Women To Watch: OMD’s Peita Pacey

Women To Watch: OMD’s Peita Pacey
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At B&T, We are staunch believers that every woman and her achievements should be celebrated, every day and always.

However, unfortunately, the achievements of women often go unnoticed. That’s why we launched our annual B&T Women in Media Awards – to recognise the amazing accomplishments of women across the marketing, communications and advertising industry.

In honour of our WIM Awards, we’re chatting to industry powerhouses; women we should all be keeping an eye on — women to watch.

Today we’re hearing from Peita Pacey, OMD Sydney’s head of strategy.

Peita Pacey

B&T’s Women in Media Awards are important because, whilst I think it’s unfortunately still imperative that we have specific forums that allow the light to be shone on women’s achievements in our industry, what I believe is more important than showcasing our gender’s success, is highlighting the diversity in the journey to success. The days where there was only one way to succeed on the media corporate ladder are diminishing, and this program illustrates to both men and women that you can grow, perform and achieve via many different paths.

I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the incredible and influential people in my life. As I navigate my own life and career, I look to a number of incredible women to help inspire and guide me to be my best. Each of these women have demonstrated to me, by just living their own lives, how to be flexible and focused in my ambitions. They are women in my workplace, women I have worked with and women in my own family.

Each of these women have fought the feminist fight with grace, humour and effort, none of them falling into the idea that you have to play the traditional “man’s” game to get to where you want to go in life, never mind at work. When I grow up, I want to be just like them! Aimee, Sian, Georgie, Kim, Anita, Ilona and Ev – thank you! However, I see two interconnected issues holding us back. The idea of having to choose career over life (whatever that outside focus might be) and the culture of overwork. Together these two elements constrict our thinking about how to progress, and that in order to do really well at work as you get closer to the top, you have to give up your time and your focus on family (or whatever else you’re focused on). These two issues are ingrained in our society, well outside our own industry, making it tough to have meaningful conversations to overcome either.

If our overwork culture dictates that in order to hold a very senior role you must work at least 65+ hours a week (and let’s be honest, that’s conservative), then naturally you’re asking people to choose between work and life, and for many that is between work and children. Parents don’t have children to not spend time with them, so until we rectify this obsession with overwork as the norm, it’s natural that one partner will have to take a backseat in their career. It’s in the best interest of our national economy to have both parents working, we should be better at facilitating that positively.

We need to stop talking about work/life balance primarily in the context of women having to manage family obligations. Work/life “balance” is something we all need to fight for to ensure that when we are at work we are at our most productive, and when we’re not working we are fulfilling all those other areas that make us who we are as individuals, and therefore so valuable to our companies.

When reflecting on the most unexpected champions of change for equality, I’ve realised it can be much closer to home. For me, it’s my Grandfather. On the surface he was a very traditional man – with a wife at home raising their two children, he was a WWII survivor and a corporate man for IBM. Every morning for over 35 years, my grandmother would cook his breakfast before sending him on his way to work. She ran the household in the most traditional of ways and did not work. But as I grew up, Pop would always say to me, “Don’t take the way we’ve done things as your guide to the future. That’s been done before. I’m more interested in how else life could be lived. Take the opportunity you have and make the most of it, don’t worry about ‘should’, think about ‘could’, and find yourself a partner who helps you get there.”

Off the back of this, I think in today’s age, being financially independent and fit females is incredibly important. Financial fitness means something different to everyone. For me, it’s about having enough understanding about how to make my money work as hard as it can, to give my family and I as many options as possible. In my early years, financial fitness meant trying to balance the immediate with the long term, making sure I could eat for the whole month and pay rent, whilst also putting a little away to slowly add up over time. As you accrue responsibilities (car, house, partner, children, pets, a love of expensive handbags etc.) it’s so important to protect them and yourself. The reality is that we don’t know what challenges and adventures we’re going to come up against, and they never come along at a convenient time.

Thinking about how to use your money to give yourself freedom (in whatever form that means for you) is liberating. Insurance is important, saving is important, wills are important and so is loving where you live, a new pair of fabulous shoes and avocado toast from time to time. How to make sure you’re paid what your worth? Do your homework. Understand what you value most – is it salary, flexibility, opportunity – there are many ways to be “paid well”. And don’t be apologetic about pushing for more – you don’t get if you don’t ask!

Quickfire Question

If you were PM, what law would you change/introduce right now to improve equality?

As much as I’d love to see a four-day work week, or six weeks holiday as the minimum, I think that critical to any real change is to see more capable women in Parliament. Legal changes that influence society come through the people we elect to represent our communities. With only 30 per cent of seats held by women, we aren’t seeing the breadth of female views held and are therefore still not fully represented at this level.

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

Stop trying to do it all yourself. Ask for help. And throw some money at the issue (about home help) – it may be expensive, but it’s not forever and it’ll help your productivity. Both pieces of advice changed everything for me.

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B&T women in media awards OMD Peita Pacey

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