Last week saw the kick off of one of OLIVER’s new initatitives: Women in Business. Talent Acquisition Executive, Giorgia Rossini, shares the highlights from our first panel.
“Simply stated, girls want role models and mentors” – Anna Maria Chavez
Imagine you’ve invited your best friends round for drinks in your living room, that’s exactly how our first ‘Women in Business’ panel felt, with an engaged and curious audience (of men AND women).
The panel included Sharon Whale, CEO of OLIVER UK; Leigh Thomas, CEO Dare; Tina Davies, Commercial Director at Aylesworth Fleming and Miriam Faber, CSD at OLIVER.
The point of this initiative is to highlight women in business, their journeys, their inspirations, and to provide a space where people can mentor, be mentored, but more than anything be inspired by this amazing network of amazing women.
The conversation started with a simple question: “How important have mentors been in your career?”
I know I was personally starved of strong women role models growing up (apart from my mother – hi mum!) and it’s one of the reasons I moved to London.
Everyone agreed on the importance of role models, but there was also an interesting point raised about the idea of mentorship by Leigh. Are we looking at mentors to tell us what to do and how to do it? She thinks we just need someone with whom we can share ideas and who can help us make those ideas “move on” – and who can disagree with that?
When we then talked about who inspired us, a reoccurring figure seemed to be the maternal one (told you). Your support network starts at home, and continues with every human interaction we have moving forward. A strong female presence in the house makes us feel we can achieve things and that we’re free to choose whatever path we want. I know that if it weren’t for my mamma (say that with an Italian emphasis) I wouldn’t have had the strength or courage to move to another country all on my lonesome. Sure, I didn’t join NASA but I wouldn’t say that was her fault!
But why is it so important to talk to women about women? The panel nicely moved onto the topic of “unconscious bias” – as a woman myself I have fallen victim to this time and time again, especially when I was first looking for a job. We talked about how both men and women have an internal unconscious bias, and how it’s affected our careers and what we do now. So yeah, we need to talk about stuff and understand how much of it is ourselves not helping ourselves, and how much of it is this scary world out there.
Do women have to try harder to get ahead? As it stands, yes they do! But when they do, they make for great leaders. Empathy, communication and mentoring skills ensure we lead and nurture our team to achieve its best. As Sharon put it: “be aggressive in your ideas, goals and ambition. But don’t be aggressive in how you get them” – we don’t need to pretend to be men to achieve our goals. (Disclaimer: I love you mankind!)
We also talked a lot about the reality of having children. Leigh and Sharon both have children, and although they don’t get to put them to bed every night, they make sure they know that they work because they want to and they like to, not because they have to. This goes back to that important mind-set in the family: we want to make sure our kids know that Mum works and loves it, and they can do that too – you can have it all!
And when it comes to our company?
OLIVER has an even split between men and women, including women in leadership and senior management, so there’s no shortage of mentors and role models here!
All in all, I found it an inspiring evening, in which we spoke freely about how we feel as women in the advertising/marketing industry, what we think we need more of (and what we want less of…) and what transpired is that we’re there for each other and that we can achieve everything we want. And that I love my mum.
If you’re interested in joining the team, have a look at our vacancies or send your portfolio and/or CV to our recruitment team. For a little glimpse into life at OLIVER, follow us on Facebook or Instagram.