Where are all the women in creative leadership roles?
Ever wondered how you’ve ended up in a leadership role? Or whether you’re even suited to one?
I have. It’s actually something I’ve thought about a lot – particularly knowing my own rollercoaster career path to this point! In the last week, I had the chance to think about what being a leader means to me in a bit more depth because I was asked to speak at a ‘Womxn in Design’ / ‘Ladies, Wine, Design’ event at Hybrid agency’s fantastic Bristol office.
It was time to admit to myself that I am actually a woman in a creative leadership role! Maybe I could help other women and non-binary individuals out by talking about how I got here and what it means to me. Ideally my story might inspire them to set their sights high in a creative world where most senior roles are still held by men.
There was one big issue though. As a natural introvert, standing on stage and speaking to a room full of ladies about myself is definitely not what I’d call my natural habitat. I’m more your comfying up at home with the Playstation sort of person.
I knew I had to agree to do it though, however reluctantly (at first!), because the event was co-hosted by Adlib, a Bristol recruitment agency. Olivia Lowe at Adlib started the Womxn in Design initiative around a year ago, and I was one of the first people she interviewed for it. She asked me to speak at the event because it was a year since we met, and it felt like a nice 12-month, full-circle kind of vibe. I couldn’t deny it, she was right!
Lead with a purpose
One of my personal goals as a leader is to create more leaders – seemed like a good hook for my talk. I wrote a loose script and put together a presentation which began by asking the audience (40 or so local creative women) if they wanted to be leaders. I would then tell them my story, about how it took me a long time to discover what I wanted in my career and how meeting Rich and Oli (my Something Familiar co-founders) brought everything into sharp focus. We all had the same vision, but complementary talents that could take us there.
Without really planning it, I was the Managing Director of an agency. I didn’t even know if it was something I could do but I was going to give it my best shot.
I wanted my talk to show that if I could do it, so could they. Leaders don’t need to look like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg, they could look like anybody sitting listening to me. And it didn’t necessarily need to be planned either: if the unexpected opportunity arose, they shouldn’t be afraid of it. Grab it!
The industry needs us
Despite nerves, and the strange emotions that come with standing up in public and talking about yourself, I got through it. And I’m pleased I did.
We had four talks on the night, (myself; Lucy Weston and Vicki Leach from Two Girls Co; Kate Gorringe, Executive Creative Director at Mr B & Friends; and Hannah Strickland, Design Director at Halo) and similar themes kept coming up in each presentation – universal truths we all wanted to address. It was a great night for supporting and championing women in our industry and I was grateful to be part of it.
Personally, I was pleased I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and was very relieved to hear from members of the audience afterwards who took something positive from what I said. The night also gave me more confidence to do more events like this in the future… if I’m asked of course!
It was great to see so many people there, and I would really recommend that any ladies in the creative industry get down to one of their local monthly events to hear, meet and be a part of a talented group who are not afraid to stand tall in our traditionally male-dominated industry.
Now, where’s that Playstation controller?