Women in Media’s Aisling Colley: “Being Brave Is To Take A Leap Of Faith”

Women in Media’s Aisling Colley: “Being Brave Is To Take A Leap Of Faith”
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For BMF’s deputy head of account management, Aisling Colley, being brave is to take a leap of faith and to push past your fear—that niggling thing that sits festering in the back of your mind.

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.

Recently, B&T had the chance to chat with Women in Media Awards winner Aisling Colley, about some of her bravest and most courageous moments, including her fear-conquering return to work after 12 months of maternity leave—an experience she describes as “mind blowing”.

What does your average day look like, Aisling?

I wake up at 5am, play ‘dinosaur fight’ with my three-year-old son, and watch Jurassic Park over milk and coffee, before getting my son ready for day-care.

I then usually have a 9am Zoom with my team to chat about the day ahead but mostly to stay connected, even if it’s just to chat about what we’re eating for brekkie!

What motivates you?

Excellent ideas.

Solid thinking.

Tough challenges.

And humble humans.

What is the proudest moment of your professional life?

Winning at the B&T Women in Media Awards in 2019 and for being recognised within the industry, amongst some brilliantly talented women.

[Editor’s note: Aisling won the ‘Agency Sales/Account Management’ category at last year’s WIM.]

Aisling, what is the difference between being ‘brave’ and being ‘courageous’?

Being brave is to take a leap of faith and to push past your fear—that niggling thing that sits festering in the back of your mind, making you anxious.

At BMF, one of our company values is ‘Gutsy’—it’s what has empowered me (and my team) to act a certain way, to remove any fear in any situation and just go for it.

But being courageous is to stand up for what you believe in and consistently commit to that.

When in your career have you been most courageous?

I’m big on culture and I saw the need recently to appreciate all people within our industry, not just the usual suspects.

Whoever was on the biggest, shiniest new brief, got all the glory. But what about the girls and guys in my team who were working tirelessly to get a campaign out the door?

Or the finance manager who was helping wrangle all the invoices to ensure we could shoot in time? Or the receptionist who deals with 4,000 people and requests each day?

I wanted to do something about it. So, with the blessing of the BMF leadership team, I implemented the all staff, rewards based, recognition program—Bravo—where all women, men, managers, colleagues, peers and departments could celebrate each other’s success by recognising and rewarding each other, every single day.

When in your career have you been bravest?

When I returned back to work after my maternity leave.

I had 12 months off. It was pretty mind blowing coming back to a completely different office, manager, team, daily routine.

The fear had kicked in about six weeks prior to returning—what if I didn’t know how to do my job again? What if I’d been forgotten? What if I’m now behind in my career and have to make up for lost time?

What if my son is p***ed at me for not being with him every hour anymore? The list of fears was endless. But I wanted to get back to work and there was only one way to deal with it.

And that was to deal with it.

Why should women or men in the media, marketing and advertising industries be courageous when pushing against gender inequalities?

Because everyone deserves the opportunity. EVERYONE. Male or female. White or black. Young or old. It doesn’t matter, just lose the bias and get it done.

It needs to be engrained into our everyday lives, we need to smash the norm and we can only do it together as a big group of people, not on our own.

It’s got to come from every corner of a business or group of people.

Have the women and men of ad-land been courageous enough in our fight for gender equality?

Depends where you look—sometimes yes, sometimes no.

It’s a mixed bag at the moment and I think it’s very much dependent on the culture and beliefs of an organisation that spills down throughout their people and leaders.

This year’s theme for B&T’s ‘Women in Media’ is fearlessness. What would an awards focused on this theme look like, to you, and what kind of person do you visualise should be up on the stage receiving an award?

Someone like Jacinda Ardern—fierce, brave, courageous, likeable, and all with a little baby in tow.

What should that person represent?

Someone who represents all men and all women and all ages and all races.

Someone who pushes against the norm and faces whatever fear they may be up against.

Is the slowdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic an opportunity for ad-land to rethink how it approaches gender issues?

Yes, of course.

Companies have been forced into this new way of working with no time to think about it.

It’s positively resulted in management and leadership teams worrying less about whether the work will get done remotely and more concerned about the wellbeing of their people.

The perception and negative connotations previously associated with working from home and wrangling home life (namely kids) has now been destroyed for good.

The barriers have come down, and we’ve entered a new stratosphere of flexibility—it’s not just the mums that are dealing with juggling work and home life, the dads are now in on it, too—everyone is exposed to the two worlds, which is brilliant.

And finally, who is the bravest or most courageous person you know, Aisling, and why?

My son. Granted he’s only three but he’s had a hell of an entry into this world—terrible reflux for most of his first year of life, and sleep apnoea for the rest of it.

He’s a trooper and just so brave and if he’s only three and can be as such, then I need to learn from him and do the same in my old age.

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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aisling colley women in media awards

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