Women are vital to any industry, especially this one. And B&T doesn’t think it’s right that some of these women aren’t recognised for their inspiring efforts every day. So come one, come all, because we’ve got some killer women to showcase!
To celebrate the launch of our annual Women in Media Awards, we’ve grabbed a few industry power women and prodded them with questions about who they find inspiring, their best advice and why women are vital to their industry.
The star of our last Women in Media Profile was Elaine Herlihy from Paypal – who said the best advice she was ever given was to back herself. And next in line is Jo de Fina, founder and executive producer at The OTTO Empire!
What was the best advice you were ever given?
Use self doubt to your advantage. Self doubt is that little gremlin perching on most peoples shoulders, whispering in their ear. That self doubt can be used to propel you forward, rather than hold you back.
I guarantee you the most successful people are always asking themselves what they can do better, rather than sitting on their laurels thinking they know everything.
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learnt in or out of the workforce?
As a young PA working in London, I worked for a lady who was determined to crush me. Thankfully, everyone around us could see what she was doing, and it backfired to the extent that clients wouldn’t want to work with her because she showed the world who she truly was. At the time, as a young assistant starting out in the workforce, I was petrified, but it showed me how NOT to treat people.
You get so much more out of people by trying to bring out the best in them, rather than in trying to put them down. And the people around me who saw what was going on are still dear friends and colleagues to this day. So for every person out there determined to see you fail, there is always someone wanting to see you succeed. Surround yourself with those people!
What women do you find inspiring?
Mum didn’t finish her formal school education. She met Dad as a legal secretary, married and raised five kids, then when my youngest sister started school, she sat an entry exam to get into Uni. She started off studying an Arts Degree, then transferred into Law, and eventually completed her Masters in International Law. An accomplishment for anyone, let alone someone juggling a family of seven and starting her education again. At one point my sister and my Mum were in the same Uni lectures.
Mum showed us all the value of education, persistence, and then after completing her law degree, predominantly worked on pro bono cases. She taught me that there’s no such word as No, to treat everyone with kindness and to always try. Which in my line of work, is vital.
What’s different in a creative role today compared to five years ago?
Resources are far more limited, and research seems to dictate so much more. There is less trust in the creative process, which kills a great idea before it gets off the ground, unfortunately. There are certainly less risks being taken at the moment, which is a shame, as the best work comes through risk taking, I believe, but everything moves in cycles, and this too, shall pass…..
What do you think is the most exciting thing about women working in the media right now?
Our voice! Helen Reddy had it right when she sang ‘I am Woman hear me roar’.
Our take on situations, the world, is different to mens’ and that can only be a positive thing. No longer are women hidden. Workplaces are becoming more flexible in their practises to retain women. We’re being recognised as leaders. Rather than having to fit into an archaic work system, models are changing to retain that valuable brains trust. That’s exciting.
What Cam Blackley has been doing at BMF, and now M&C Saatchi is a great example of creative leadership, retaining valuable team members, changing the model and creating opportunities.
What advice would you give to young aspiring women?
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask. And take risks! I believe that in life you, ‘Don’t ask, Don’t get’. Don’t ever assume someone knows you want that job, that promotion, to work on a particular project. Be your own best champion. The worst thing anyone can do is say is no.
Why are women vital to your industry?
Women’s approach to problem solving and creativity is so vastly different to men’s. We’re more intuitive and systematic in how we go about things, I believe. And we’re so diplomatic.