Women To Watch: OMD’s Penny Shell

Women To Watch: OMD’s Penny Shell

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 OMD Melbourne head of product and national head of planning Penny Shell.

Penny Shell

B&T’s Women in Media Awards are incredibly important because until women are represented and remunerated equally at every level, in every sector of our industry, we must continue to recognise the women in media who are leading the way.

The fact I am still working in this industry is thanks to the support of two previous managers.

11 years ago, I was new to Sydney and met with Dan Johns, MD of Ikon Sydney at the time, for a strategy role with my eight-week-old baby in the pram. Dan offered me a role on their biggest client, Commonwealth Bank, and when I asked how many days the role required me in the office, he replied “you tell me”.

Back in Melbourne, years later, I was juggling team challenges and a young family whilst in a Business Director role at Starcom. I resigned to then CEO, Chris Nolan, who suggested that instead of resigning I could take extended leave from the business and return if I wanted to at any time. I ended up returning to Starcom nine months later and worked for the business for another five years.

B&T Women in Media partner Bauer Media recently launched their Financially Fit Females campaign to improve the country’s financial literacy.  Do you feel financially Fit?  What advice would you give younger women to make sure women are getting paid what they are worth?   

Personally, I’ve been terrible in the past with financial literacy and life admin. I think the buzz term is a “financial ostrich”! Luckily, I have people in my life to help keep me accountable and feel closer to being financially fit, although I’m positive there are many things I could be doing to make my finances work harder. It’s a personal weakness I’m determined my children are not going to have! OMD hosts Personal Finance Week each year for the entire agency – I wish I’d been offered this benefit earlier in my agency life and am making the most of it now.

To ensure you are being paid what you are worth, the advice I have for all women is to really do your homework. Make sure you research what the industry is paying for similar roles, talk to leaders and recruiters, don’t just Google, and don’t compromise or downplay the value of your talent and experience. I’ve definitely had to learn this the hard way in the past. Find some trusted mentors in the industry you’re comfortable having candid conversations with around salary advice and expectations too – this has helped me greatly in setting my own benchmarks.

Quickfire questions

Name the most influential woman in your life.

My mum, who demonstrates the importance of having a strong work ethic, compassion and a point of view.

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

Let’s lead by example and start with equal gender representation within government parties to represent and reflect society.

What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?

You won’t get offered an opportunity twice – so say yes.

What’s a little something everyone can do today that could potentially make a massive change in the struggle for equality?

Ask what the individual needs and try and work together to build a solution, rather than treating anything unexpected as a ‘negotiation’.


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