WPP ‘Young Gun’ Hayley Westoby: “We Need To Leave Behind Any Resentment We Have Had For This Year”

WPP ‘Young Gun’ Hayley Westoby: “We Need To Leave Behind Any Resentment We Have Had For This Year”
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine
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It’s been an extraordinary year for our industry. But what do some of our best and brightest, and up-and-coming sparks have to say about it?

In the lead-up to Christmas, B&T is profiling the top ‘young guns’ of WPP to see what the future holds, according to them, and how we can learn from the troubles, and the successes, of operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hayley Westoby is WPP AUNZ’s experience and content director, a role she took on in February, after moving on from a position as WPP Experiences’ senior account director.

In her own words, Westoby, 29, believes ad-landers need to leave behind any resentment they have had for this year.

“We need to leave behind any what-ifs,” she says,” leave behind any doubts and jump into 2021 head first. 2021 will not have time for delegators, micromanagers, ‘stand and point-ers’ or self-servers. 2021 will be the year of the ‘do-er’.”

Here’s what 2021 looks like, in the eyes of one of the industry’s young guns.

B&T: Hayley, why do you choose to work in advertising?

HW: In this industry every single person is a problem solver and I love finding solutions, so it is a perfect match! I continue to choose this industry because I truly love what I do on a daily basis.

Working in advertising enables you to understand the importance of words and visuals; the impact of decisiveness; and the ability to absorb multiple points of view while still maintaining your own opinion.

This industry encourages you to distil complex information into a single insight and teaches you to merge three ideas into one, while delivering on a budget which wasn’t aligned to any of the ‘sch-merged ideas’.

This industry reassures you that you can multi-task successfully and that relationships are the foundation of success.

Has your perspective on the industry changed since you began working in it to now?

Yes absolutely! When I started out it was a very male dominated space and there were very few, if any, women that I remember looking up to. I think the industry now has fewer boundaries, anyone can come up with an idea and almost anyone can adapt and learn a new skillset.

In the beginning, I thought late nights, countless hours, being a ‘yes woman’ was the only way I would succeed. I was wrong. It was a one-way ticket to burn out town!

Perspective has now taught me you will succeed in this industry by telling the truth, adding value and ensuring you are pouring from a full cup. The industry now is seeking respect, not attention.

Spotify just came out with its ‘Wrapped for Advertisers’, which breaks down audience insights globally and across different markets. It seems there’s a new breakthrough in data on demographics every week.

Is it safe to say ‘data’ is the buzzword of 2020? Or should we continue to take these announcements seriously in 2021?

Data has always been important, but not necessarily recognised. Data is like the hours and hours of training that are needed to perform a single gymnastics routine. No one sees what goes into, or what’s required, to produce a successful final product.

It has taken a global pandemic to strip back any fluff that overlays data (or lack of) and now more than ever, data will drive the decisions we make and the risks we are taking.

In 2021 it will not be good enough to be simply a matter of opinion. Just look at how Trump tackled COVID vs Jacinda Arden. That’s a prime example of opinion vs data, and look how that turned out!

Data is here to stay. “Data literacy” will become a major focus of internal training and education and the most important jobs over the next 10 years will be data driven!

Google and Facebook (for better or worse) have paved the way in showing the world you can build a very large and profitable business based solely on data.  Data will help brands break boundaries, help drive innovation and profit, and create entirely new challenges and issues.

I’m not usually ever a fan of buzz words but data is here to stay. The big question will be if consumers will continue to trade their data privacy for entertainment, convenience and connection.

What are the greatest learnings of 2020 that will serve us well as an industry in 2021? And what aspects of our industry should we leave behind?

2020 has been the longest year, which has felt like the shortest. We have come along way, with little to no travelling. We have rewritten all of the rules we played by, and 2021 is an opportunity to action our new set of rules.

2020 has taught us that we need to put a stop to the glorification of busy and prioritise self-care. We need to recharge physically and mentally as we can’t pour from an empty cup.

2020 has taught us business will not return to normal, and that in order to stay ahead we must be flexible, agile and open to change.

2020 has taught us that people matter, good people matter most and without good people we can achieve nothing.

We need to leave behind any resentment we have had for this year.

We need to leave behind any what-ifs, leave behind any doubts and jump into 2021 head first. 2021 will not have time for delegators, micromanagers, ‘stand and point-ers’ or self-servers. 2021 will be the year of the ‘do-er’.

According to the Media Federation of Australia’s most recent industry census, the average industry person is 31.8 years old, more than likely a woman (61 per cent), has 8.1 years of experience, and is likely to have an average agency tenure of 3.4 years.

Are you confident that you will have a role in ad-land by the time you turn 40?

No one knows if ‘ad-land’ will still exist when I am 40. I’m confident I will still be working but who knows where I’ll be working and what I’ll be doing—that role probably doesn’t even exist today!

What are our industry’s greatest challenges? How do we solve them?

Demonstrating value, keeping it simple and consumer centric, and staying in your lane.

  1. Demonstrating value is becoming increasingly more difficult for business. Today people know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Don’t forget that your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth, price is what you pay—value is what you get. Make sure you are adding value.
  2. Keeping it simple and consumer centric. Keep it simple, keep it honest, keep it real and keep your consumer top of mind. Simple is hard, much harder than complexity but if it isn’t simple and your consumer isn’t considered throughout the process it will fall short. The ability to simplify eliminates the unnecessary so that the necessary can speak.
  3. Staying in your lane. Seems simple but there are so many people and businesses that are overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to skill set and expertise. Stick to what you do best, outsource to experts where you need it, stay in your lane, and master your craft. Be good at one thing, not average at everything.

And, finally, what are your hopes for yourself? What could bring you fulfillment in 2021?

For myself, I hope I can continue learning and growing. I hope I can continue to surround myself with exceptional talent, more specifically exceptional female talent who inspire me daily.

I hope people aren’t waiting for business to return to normal, instead using this unusual year to sprout new ideas and new ways of working. I hope that mental health and flexibility remain part of the dialogue with empathy, compassion and emotional awareness to continue to be a valued trait in everyone, especially our leaders.

2020 has been a year of progress, not perfection and you’re in charge of your own plot twist—bring on 2021!

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Hayley Westoby WPP

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