Another day, another wonderfully inspiring Women in Media profile, and today’s leading lady? Why, it’s the CEO of Hall & Partners Open Mind, Nicola Hepenstall.
Describe your average day?
There is no average day. That’s the best thing about my job!
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
The daily commute from my home in the Dandenong Ranges to our office in South Yarra. I’ve been doing the 1 hour plus drive each way for most of my working life. I have had to learn to accept traffic chaos and no longer stress about whether I’ll make a meeting or flight.
What drives you?
So many things that it’s actually much easier for me to answer what I’m not driven by. I’ve never been someone who was driven by money or power!
What’s the hardest brief you’ve ever received or hardest job to execute?
We get some really challenging briefs. From how to speak to people experiencing anxiety and depression in a way that encourages them to get help thru to how does a utility company offer customers something more than a bill each quarter!
We also need to reach some of Australia’s most marginalised people – newly arrived refugees, people who have overstayed their visas or those who are experiencing homelessness – so our ability to execute is critical to our success.
What has been your favourite job in media and why?
I love my current role. I get to work with a wonderful team of people, on challenging business problems for our clients – and have fun doing it.
Being part of the Clemenger Group, also means that we get to partner with people from a wide range of disciplines which makes our work even more interesting.
What is your proudest professional moment?
Being asked to join the board of the Clemenger Group would have to be up there. I’ve been working in the group since 2008 so it’s great to have that contribution recognised, but what I’m most excited about is contributing to the wider group of Clemenger companies. And on a personal level, I get to learn from some amazing people!
What’s your quirkiest attribute?
The fact I don’t think I have any quirks. But I thought I better check and when I asked around the office it seems that it’s my …… Who would have thought?
One thing that no one knows about you?
I’m really very open about me and who I am but not many people know that my first job was with the Sydney City Mission feeding homeless men in Sydney’s Darlinghurst. I was determined to cheer everyone up and was known for wearing Minnie Mouse ears while serving up mashed potato and mince.
It taught me to treat people with dignity and that everyone has a story to tell – something I’m now paid to uncover!
What are advertising/marketing’s biggest challenges or threats?
Ensuring we attract the best talent to our industry. Demonstrating the ROI of a great creative idea. If we can’t show our impact, we leave ourselves open to an Uberesque threat.
What do you think are the most exciting things in the marketing and creative world at the moment?
The recognition that a Brand needs to be reflected in every touchpoint – it expands our world from marketing to customer experience. The opportunities that Virtual Reality opens up to create new and exciting ways to engage.
Hardest lesson you’ve had to learn (in or out of workforce)?
To listen! I love talking so this would have to be it! Whether at home or at work!
Tea or coffee?
I start the day with a coffee – then I’m a tea drinker. It’s a very social part of my day. Our office is full of tea drinkers and there is always someone saying “who would like a cup of tea?”
We have so many different varieties, we are beginning to look like a tea wholesaler!
Cats or dogs?
Dogs – two of them. I’ve had border collies for all my adult life. Their enthusiasm and energy matches mine!
Settling in for an afternoon reading newspapers in front of the fire! I’m a sloth on the weekends!
What’s your favourite TV programme?
I love a BBC drama. We are watching Happy Valley at the moment.
What turns you on, emotionally, creatively, spirituality?
My Mum and Dad were always big on making a difference! As a little kid, I remember them protesting against the Springbok Tour, Vietnam War, and championing Women’s Rights…. My Dad, who is gay, is a 78er having been part of the first protest march for gay rights in Australia.
They were passionate about the capacity of individuals to make change and their example has fired my passion for giving ordinary people a voice. That’s the best part of what I do.
What turns you off?
I can’t stand arrogance – I think it’s very unattractive.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I think I’d have been a great barrister – I’m a good debater and always quick with a counter argument. And what’s not to like about getting to wear the same thing every day and not having to worry about your hair! Black robe, wig – all done!
What profession would you not like to do?
At the risk of offending some of my favourite people, I don’t think I could be an accountant. Counting money wouldn’t make me happy.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
I’ve felt like I should give up honey in my tea but…. And I have this idea that when I retire (the ultimate thing to give up must surely be work) I’ll look after injured or orphaned wombats and kangaroos.
I often see dead ones by the side of the road having been hit by a car. We have wombats on our property and if it’s close to home I worry it might be ours.
What are the pearls of wisdom you know now, that you wish you knew when you were younger?
Don’t worry – you’ll get where you are going! I always seemed to be rushing somewhere so I’ve had to learn to relax and be more patient.
What is your favourite word?
Psychogenic Polydipsia – it means an obsession with drinking too much water. I heard about Polydipsia from one of my friends at work. A
part from the way it rolls off your tongue, it seems to explain our collective obsession with drinking bottled water! All the plastic does my head in!
What is your least favourite word?
It’s too rude to print!