Celebrating International Women’s Day at ForwardPMX – Part 2

March 4, 2020

The FP team is happy to share the second installment of our multi-part blog series celebrating International Women’s Day. We’re highlighting women’s stories from across our global organization, sharing insights into the careers, passions, and the opportunities and challenges that have shaped their personal and professional lives.

Across the world, we’re taking a moment to pause and reflect on the campaign theme for this year, #EachforEqual, while celebrating women’s achievements in unique ways across our offices. We’re hosting panel discussions with guest speakers from our partners like Google and The Stagwell Group to create an open forum for both women and men to voice how we can challenge stereotypes, tackle bias and broaden our perceptions in our everyday lives. With several local events planned globally, along with key charitable initiatives, March represents an important and exciting time to move women forward.

Kim Davis, Director, Paid Media, Baltimore

How do you balance your career with life outside of work?

Extremely imperfectly. And that’s okay. My kids and husband get the best version of me, and so does my career… just maybe not at the same time. I no longer hold myself to rigid expectations… I try to silence the guilt. It’s not perfect, but it works. I fill my life with the things that make me the best – sleep, time off, food, laughter, family, Netflix… when I am centered, I do my best work and I am the best leader for my team. It’s my own flawed balance – everyone has to design their own.  Advice I would give on maintaining balance is – honor your boundaries. You can’t be your best at work (or home) if you’re not taking care of YOU.

What advice would you give to the next generation of female (and male) leaders?

Find a mentor that challenges you in a way that makes you a better, stronger leader. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious, the world is ready for you.  From an unknown genius — To the women who are aggressive: keep being assertive. To the women who are bossy: keep being a leader. To the women who are difficult: keep telling the truth. To the women who are too much: keep taking up space. To the women who are awkward: keep asking questions.

You will learn something from every leader. You have to decide if that’s HOW you want to lead, or how you DON’T want to lead.

Ziyi Huang, Account Manager, London

What was the most important advice you’ve received in your career?

‘Put yourself in others’ shoes. This is one of the most salient pieces of advice I’ve received in my career. Incorporating this into daily life allows me to perceive team members’ expectations and needs, allowing for long-lasting relationships and a positive team environment. It also allows me to understand clients’ real pain points before coming to a solution.

What are some significant challenges you’ve had to overcome, and how did you overcome them?

In the early days of my career, whenever I had a meeting with strangers (like new clients), I was always shy, nervous and not confident. Then, I started to share my feelings with my friends and colleagues, and realized it’s common to have such feelings. Because our company is diverse and values young talent regardless of their background, I was able to take the leap out of my comfort zone and grow into the confident person I am today.

Sarah Flannery, Head of Client Development, London

What are the women’s themes that still need greater awareness in your opinion?

Equality and addressing the gender gap isn’t a women’s issue in which men don’t have a role. As IWD organizers explain well this year, “gender equality is essential for economies to thrive,” and it is a business issue in which everyone should be encouraged to play a role.

The dynamics which lead to misrepresentation in sectors and leadership are too often misunderstood or based on subjective feelings. The steps required to achieve equality are often counter-intuitive, but there is a wealth of research out there to guide organizations and individuals.

I’d like to see greater education across the board of the stereotypes and unconscious biases that often create inequality. For example, that women often have to behave outside of societal modesty norms in order to achieve in the workplace, and the challenges this creates.

What was the most important advice you’ve got in your career?

Someone once told me to remember that no one really knows what they’re doing. Just as they get good at one role, they are usually promoted to the next. Take risks, and push yourself to vocalize what you want. Don’t stick to what you think you know or be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone to take on new challenges.

Usually you have nothing to lose by going for opportunities before you think you are ready and the process itself provides a great learning opportunity.

Eve Carbonneaux, Associate Director, Paris

How do you inspire and motivate your team as a leader?

I think 3 keys are very important for me…

Co-mmu-ni-ca-tion through calls, chats, emails, one to one, team meetings, team building, even lunches or coffees. It is a two-way street and you should make sure that there is a constant flow of communication between you and your team. This way, you can not only keep them up-to-date with what needs to be done but you can also listen to their ideas, opinions and feedback.

1 team 1 dream… I like to encourage teamwork. The best kind of companies or teams are those where everyone works together cohesively and collaboratively. Encouraging and promoting teamwork boosts productivity because it makes team members feel less isolated, and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.

Power of positive feedback. Its very important to recognize and applaud achievement to inspire team members. It’s an opportunity where they can see themselves progressing towards their goals. When my team members achieve results, put in extra effort or do outstanding work, I am making sure to tell them and other departments know.

What was the most important advice you’ve received in your career?

All progress takes place outside of your comfort zone, so don’t be scared to think out of the box and try even if you fail.

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