In writing down her story from the coronavirus pandemic in a recently released book, Finecast head of marketing and business development Tania David says she was able to find immense strength.
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.
Tania David is the head of marketing and business development at addressable television company Finecast, a subsidiary of WPP’s GroupM, and a contributing author to Heart on my Sleeve – stories from the pandemic, an eye-opening book filled with the stories of what a life-changing year has been like for the top leaders in Australia’s creative, media and marketing industry.
In an industry where at least 56 per cent of its employees display mild to severe levels on the depression scale, David says having the strength to share her own story, and show vulnerability with colleagues and the industry, helped her to find immense strength.
When asked how she would define such a quality—of fearlessness—David tells B&T: “It’s not necessarily about conquering fear or feeling completely void of fear”.
“Fearlessness more comes from, I think, a softening of our hearts and in facing our fears,” she says.
However, when Finecast’s team transitioned to working from home, and in isolation, David, who suffers from anxiety and depression, says she was struggling.
David tells B&T she was encouraged by Brett Poole, who leads Finecast, and Rosie Baker, GroupM’s group communications director, to share her story in stories from the pandemic, to help others in the industry going through similar struggles.
In doing so, David says she hoped to be able to “help them feel brave” enough to reach out for help.
“It was a really uncomfortable process for me, to be honest,” she says. “It was unsettling to face many of my own fears in the whole process of writing my own story.
“I really was scared of being seen as a failure … and I guess that comes down to being vulnerable.
“From my perspective, it was like, will people see me as a failure if I’m saying, actually, I really struggle with these things, but I’m still able to function and do my job really well.”
Facing her fears publicly, the possibility of rejection by her peers who, she says, “didn’t know this stuff about me”, and speaking up on a sensitive issue that “makes people feel uncomfortable” was unsettling for David.
But she believes showing others this part of herself was important; and her peers and members of the industry were there to gather round in “overwhelming” support.
“Fearlessness is definitely about being comfortable with your own vulnerability, [in your personal and professional lives] but also addressing fears that you might have around rejection, which is definitely something that I did as part of this process—and I’m happy to share this story,” she says.
“It [stories from the pandemic] really did go into my own personal story and how I manage living with anxiety and depression, and how mental health impacts my life.
“And do you know what? I was blown away by the overwhelming response I got from so many people across the board, across the industry. It actually made a huge impact.
“I had people who were coordinators, who were quite junior, reach out to me; I had people who were CEOs of companies reach out to me, just thanking me for sharing my story.”
The “cherry on top” was being told that sharing her story, despite it being tough to do so, would help others in Australia’s creative, marketing and media industry “ask for help”, if they need it.
“That was the ultimate thing that I wanted to do: I wanted to help other people, by facing my own fears, to feel fearless, as well.”
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On-time deadline: Friday 21 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Late entries deadline: Friday 28 August 2020 (5pm AEST)
Shortlist announced: Wednesday 23 September 2020.
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