Women in Media’s Samantha Hollier-James: “We Need To Celebrate Brave Acts”

Women in Media’s Samantha Hollier-James: “We Need To Celebrate Brave Acts”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

She may have picked up ‘People’s Choice’ at last year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, but Samantha Hollier-James is all about celebrating the success of others.

During this year’s B&T Women in Media Awards, presented by Are 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.

A leader in and out of her industry, oOh!media’s integrated campaign director, Samantha Hollier-James—who is also the co-founder of Australian cancer charity Tour de Cure—is an extraordinary example of these qualities.

Over the last few weeks, B&T has been corresponding with Hollier-James, who revealed her proudest moments are all about other people, and how she showed enormous bravery to create her current position, out of nothing, from a bold dream.

Samantha, what does your average day look like?

Like most households it’s a hectic start. Usually my husband trumps me for early exercise, but the perk is he comes home with my coffee.

Our oldest daughter (early bird) usually wakes me and at the other extreme I need to chase our youngest out of bed—all while making their lunches and getting them to school with the right uniform and band items in time to play with their friends.

Thankfully I have a schedule printed and the week planned out on ‘mum’s’ whiteboard. OCD? Yes, but it helps the girls manage most of it themselves.

My typical COVID work day involves the above but I get up earlier than our kids to be work ready (I still get dressed for work, albeit ‘casual Friday’ clothes a little more often) and confirm my ‘must get done’ today tasks are first on the list.

From 8am it’s game on, gearing up for our morning team huddle/sales meeting. Every workday is different—which I love. Whether it is engaging our integrated campaign working groups, helping pitch for business, supporting colleague’s development, learning a new skill, you can’t get bored at oOh!. There is always something you can lean into and learn.

At some point across my day I check in with Tour de Cure. Tour de Cure is a cancer charity I co-founded, and it is in its 14th year. We have been significantly impacted by COVID.

Just like any business, keeping up team communication, connecting and checking in or helping our team, fellow board members, committees and volunteers on priority projects is important.

As we say, ‘cancer does not sleep and neither do we’.

A typical end to our day is when we tackle our biggest family challenges. When should we walk Duke our dog (pictured above)? Have we held Galaxy, Henley’s snake? The snake is easy. Duke on the other hand was rescued three years ago and he is not the most social boy.

If timed right, it’s a pleasant family experience. If not, we feel like we must play Frogger—finding the gap between people and animals to progress to the other side i.e. Home. But how can you not love that face?

What drives you?

Being told “you can’t”, “it hasn’t”, “we don’t”… when I am focused on delivering an experience or achieving something with a team. As I am forever the optimist, I believe a curious, passionate and determined team can rise to a challenge and make a difference.

As Margaret Meade said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.

What is your proudest professional moment?

Hearing from others that I have helped them achieve one of their professional highlights. I feel it is important to commit time to support and develop others, so to hear that I’ve been a part of a significant career achievement for someone is truly the best.

I encourage everyone to create moments for others. Share your supporting comments, give those around you that compliment that popped into your mind or simply ask if you can help in some small way. Like a drop’s ripple effect, moments create movements.

With my charity hat on, I am an extremely proud co-founder of Tour de Cure—of all we do and achieve. Our Tour de Cure family has raised over $60 million, and funded 502 Australian cancer research support and prevention projects that have resulted in 29 worldwide cancer breakthroughs.

Curing cancer, changing lives and keeping loved ones together! It blows my mind what we have achieved in 14 years and there is so much more to come.

What is the difference between being ‘brave’ and being ‘courageous’?

The root word for bravery is the Italian word “bravo”, which means “bold”. The root word for courage is “coeur”—the French word for heart.

Hence for me the difference is one is an act of character. For example, you were brave to tackle that shooter. The other is a decision of how you will behaviour to reach a goal or purpose. For example, you showed amazing courage as you navigated the business through COVID-19.

When in your career have you been most courageous?

Closing my growing events business, moving to Queensland and setting up a consultancy to support my husband to get into orthopaedics and out of landscape gardening. Everyone was saying DON’T!

You will be pleased to know he is in his 13th year of orthopaedics, having won awards and led state teams to sales records. I will not deny it took every bit of courage to navigate what we did.

However, looking back I need to acknowledge that it also enabled the start of both Tour de Cure and my move back into a career in media.

When in your career have you been bravest?

Proactively presenting the strategy for my current role as oOh!media’s first integrated campaign director. I definitely drew on our company’s value of ‘bold dreams’, as the role did not exist. I did not propose a traditional approach to it but firmly believed it would grow our clients and our business.

I am so very grateful to the leadership team at oOh!media for their support and the opportunity. Being able to help our team deliver brand and business firsts, that not only win awards but grow our customer’s and our own business is a privilege.

What is the scariest thing you’ve ever overcome?

Sharing with my husband as he was changing a messy nappy of our six-month-old first child that we were having baby number two. But I am sure you mean professionally…

I would have to say marketing myself when I was looking to move back into a commercial media role. Like every person on the recruitment journey you are so vulnerable. Add into this I was a 40-year-old mum of two young girls that dedicated weekly time to charity.

I had it all mapped in my head how it could work. It just seemed (at the time) most people said it can’t work like that.

Refer to question #2’s answer. These comments motivated me and thanks to oOh!media it all works.

This year’s theme for ‘Women in Media’ is courage and bravery. What would an awards focused on this theme look like, to you, and what kind of person do you visualise should be up on stage receiving an award?

I visualise a celebration of women who have not just thought up and shared big ideas but pushed back from the ‘table’ and acted—action that has both failed and seen them try again and action that has seen them be successful.

We need to celebrate brave acts and the courage to continue after failure.

I would also like to see a celebration of both women and men who have inspired or influenced women of all ages to be brave and courageous across our industry. Such an award would recognise small moments that created movements and hopefully inspire so many more to support women and men to be brave and courageous.

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

Easy—the bravest and most courageous person I know is my mum. She married her first love (nearly 50 years ago), left the farm for the big smoke and grew a family of four angelic kids and seven grandkids.

She has prioritised supporting all our dreams, despite means or age (and still does). Mum worked tirelessly for not only our family but so many families with special need children for decades.

Mum showed courage daily as she fought stage four breast cancer, celebrating remission recently and becoming a poster child for her breast cancer nurse, Jenny. One tough cookie who is beating the odds, Mum is effortlessly brave through all that life throws at her and never stops thinking of and helping her family and community.

Brave and courageous, with empathy and kindness, under that stubborn skin. I am truly blessed to have my mum—what a role model! I love you mum and hope you are proud of all you inspire.

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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