Bravery and courage come in a lot of forms, but Mindshare CEO Katie Rigg-Smith says one of the bravest things women (and men) can do is continue to hold truth to power, no matter how difficult that might be.
During this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, presented by Bauer Media, we’ll be recognising exceptional people who have achieved success in their professional arenas, celebrating their invaluable contribution to their industry through leadership, innovation and courage.
Rigg-Smith recently took the time to chat with B&T about what drives her, her proudest professional moment and where she thinks the media industry can improve on gender equality.
What is your proudest professional moment?
You know it would be saying yes to being CEO. And not because I think it’s the pinnacle to be CEO but because I was really scared about it. So I think to overcome that fear and actually taking a leap of faith and going ‘you know what just give it a go’ – I’m proud of myself for doing that.
What drives you?
Without a doubt the work – as in the actual things we produce for clients and understanding business challenges and how to actually make them come to life. I love it when I see my team delivering great work, and how proud they are of it.
When in your career have you been bravest and most courageous?
I can’t say there’s one particular moment but I think telling truth to power. I don’t think it matters how senior you get, you still get that nervousness when you have to tell real truth to power. That could be a really powerful client, a really powerful board, a really powerful stakeholder etc. For me, that’s something I pride myself on and it can sometimes have dire consequences. Sometimes, it can mean you lose a piece of business. However, I think we need to be able to tell truth to power.
What’s adland getting right in its approach to fighting gender inequality and where could it improve?
I think the data I’ve seen about media agencies is actually strong – there’s definitely equality across the board in terms of the number of female CEOs and male CEOs. As an industry, we are doing a lot to get it right. However, I never want to come across as having blinkers on because I do think there are still a lot of females that will say, ‘No, I’m doing it tough and I am overlooked for promotions’. So I don’t want to gloss over the fact we have work to do to make sure that there is absolute equality.
I think what we can continue to get right is to make sure that we really understand what flexibility means to each individual, and how to support people in their flexibility needs as opposed to just saying ‘we’re flexible’. But what does that actually mean for someone and how could you help support them in that?
And the last place where we could improve is engaging men in the conversation. That’s something I’ve always been proud of – that the men that I’ve worked with and for, I’ve engaged them in the conversation about what I need as a female and a female leader, and they’ve supported me through that.
What advice would you give to women who are entering the media industry or who are maybe struggling to have their voice heard?
My advice first and foremost to everyone is to learn your craft. You need to be really, really good at what you do. Then when you need to voice a concern or tell truth to power, you actually know that you’re coming from a place of knowing your stuff, and no one can take that away from you, no matter how badly they’re treating you and matter whether they are giving you things that you need. No one can take away from you being good at what you do. If you’re really good at your job, then that gives you that baseline faith that you’re going to be okay because you’ll go somewhere that will respect you if the place you’re in isn’t.
I also tell people to find someone who can champion you. If you are someone who’s a little bit quieter or you don’t feel like you’re getting your voice heard, find a mentor, or ask someone for coffee and say ‘I just need to pick your brain on how you’d deal with this situation’. What I find is people will start to be your voice piece as well – they’ll speak up for you and will understand where you’re coming from.
And finally, who is the bravest or most courageous person you know and why?
I’m always inspired by Rose Herceg, WPPAUNZ Chief Strategy Officer because no matter what the situation, no matter whom she is talking to she always has the courage and conviction to voice her point of view even if it is provocative. Rose also has the courage to listen to other people’s points of view too. I think it is brave to be in a constant state of learning and it is something I definitely try to replicate.
Don’t be shy, be proud of your achievements and enter B&T’s Women In Media! Submit your entry here.
You can also buy tickets to the event here, which will be held on Wednesday 28 October 2020, at Doltone House (Jones Bay Wharf).
And, if you’d like more information, head to this website.
Other key information
On-time deadline: Friday 21 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Late entries deadline: Friday 28 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Shortlist announced: Wednesday 23 September 2020.
Thank you to all of our incredible sponsors for making the event possible!
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