Women in Media’s Sarah Lattouf: “Standing Up Shouldn’t Be Courageous, It Should Be A Given”

Women in Media’s Sarah Lattouf: “Standing Up Shouldn’t Be Courageous, It Should Be A Given”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

When it comes to making ad-land a more inclusive space, Foxtel Media’s head of global brands, Sarah Lattouf, believes the entire industry—from top to bottom—needs to play the role of leader.

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 B&T Women in Media Awards and B&T 30 Under 30 winner, Sarah Lattouf leads Foxtel Media’s global brands department—a role, she says, she took on by owning her shit—after facing one of her fears: getting over being underestimated.

Here’s what she had to tell B&T about courage, facing her fears and standing up for what’s right, in full—minus the expletives.

Sarah, what does your average day look like?

My average day looks very different since COVID-19—from what used to be an hour and a half stuck in traffic on my morning commute. These days, I wake up, check my emails on my phone in bed, and get through the quick replies.

Only then do I get myself ready for the commute all the way to the dining table.

I’ve always loved a face-to-face as opposed to a phone chat, so Microsoft Teams has become my new best friend. My day is usually filled with meetings with my Foxtel Media colleagues, channel partners and clients.

Being home all the time has really brought me closer to the family, and that’s not excluding our pet dog Jimmy—taking Jimmy for a walk each day has now become our midday ritual and it helps get me out, clear my mind and ready to power through the rest of the day.

By the afternoon I’m usually on a roll, pumping out as many emails, and presentation decks as possible before I realise, I need to eat dinner.

Its then time to log off and spend time with the family, which usually consists of binge watching all our favourite content. We love the reality shows on E! and Arena, and crime on Discovery ID is a household favourite.

What drives you?

What drives me is passion—for the brands that I represent, for the team I lead, for the company I work for, and for the innovative work we do in the media industry. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Knowing that we can come up with a concept for a client, produce it and see it on air a few weeks later is so damn rewarding.

What is your proudest professional moment?

Last year was a bit of milestone year for me and being recognised by both the B&T 30 under 30 and B&T Women in Media Awards was a major achievement.

I happened to be sick on both award nights and couldn’t get out of bed; however, the support of my colleagues and friends in the industry is what got me going. Winning an award was really the cherry on top.

There is no greater feeling than being encouraged and acknowledged by your industry peers.

Sarah, is there a difference between being ‘brave’ and being ‘courageous’? 

Courage is underpinned by bravery. Courage is knowing what the risks are and tackling them through bravery. Bravery is going into something with full force.

It is important to be both courageous and brave in any area of your life—because if you risk nothing, you risk everything. It’s something that I have to remind myself of everyday.

When in your career have you been most courageous? When in your career have you been bravest?

I really had to tackle my fears when I took on the “head of” role and take responsibility for a bigger team and larger remit at the age of 27. Knowing I had less years in the media industry than my peers, I had to take it on with confidence—own my sh*t, basically.

I knew I could do it, but sometimes the fear of what others may think of you and your capabilities can take over and cause doubt. Don’t let it, just keep going.

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

In an ideal world, standing up against inequalities of all types shouldn’t be courageous, it should be a given. For me, all genders should come together and showcase a united front against inequality of all kinds.

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

I believe the senior leaders of our industry have made a conscious effort to achieve equality within our industry—many have taken a public stand on the issue.

Whilst this is something I am yet to experience, I appreciate that inequality does persist, and I think all of us need to be leaders when it comes to making our industry a more inclusive space for all.

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 the stage receiving an award?

Ad-land is tough, its competitive and sometimes it makes you question your abilities, particularly when you can’t affect conditions that are out of your control (like the advertising market during COVID).

I’d like to see award winners who have come up through the ranks, pushed the boundaries and made no excuses. True success in this industry for me is pushing what you believe in and allowing your passion and dedication to control your destiny.

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

I think the slowdown has allowed us to rethink and approach all issues differently.

It’s been a great opportunity to reflect, seek feedback on what’s working and what needs to change, do the things we have always wanted to do within our businesses and as an industry.

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

My Grandmother Salma is the bravest person I know.

Salma was separated from her family in 1965, when she left Lebanon. As the rest of her family set off for NYC (United States), Salma ventured on her own to Australia to follow the love of her life, Elias Lattouf. It was the last time she saw her mother.

Salma spent three months on board a ship where she knew no one, was surrounded by foreigners from other countries, spoke only in Arabic, experienced severe sickness, and had no idea what lied ahead for her, here in Australia.

Salma was brave and took the risks for love and her future—regardless of the unknown.

It is the reason why she has spent the last 65 years in a flourishing marriage, and together built a strong foundation in Australia for their two children, seven grandchildren and, recently, one great grandchild.

Heck, I wouldn’t be here today if Salma didn’t take that risk.

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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