Celebrating International Women’s Day at ForwardPMX – Part 3

March 8, 2020

The FP team is happy to share the third 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.

Supriya Dev-Purkaystha, Commercial Director, London

What would your advice would you give to female leaders coming up through the industry? 

There are many prevailing themes in the industry today, such as imposter syndrome and tokenism, which you may or may not have come across in your professional career so far. These are felt among many women and men, and some are based on experiences or could be based on deep rooted biases. Regardless of the cause, it is vital that we find ways to address them. The first step is to identify how you are feeling and why you are feeling this way. Once you’re able to untangle the factors that have caused an issue, address each one of these and learn to articulate this to the person or people who contributed to the situation. The best way to develop and push forward is by talking through your careers aspirations with your line manager, ensuring that they are invested in your goals. This way you can ensure that your personal development plans are not only focused on your development in your current role but also working towards your ultimate goal. 

Also, find a mentor or a sponsor, internally where you work or externally through your own professional network, friends or a professional coach to build up your skills and gain as much feedback as possible. It’s a great opportunity to take a step back, especially in a fast-paced digital role, to really grow from reflection. This will allow you to make positive changes and see things from a completely different point of view, which can be invaluable.

Find someone you can click with and have an honest dialogue. Try not to hide your weaknesses. Realizing them and finding strategies to overcome them will be the most beneficial for the long term. This will lead you to really take control of your own development and not leave your success in the hands of others.      

Amy Anderson, Senior Director, Paid Search, South Carolina

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

The best professional advice I’ve received came from the owner of the creative agency where I worked.  Doreen advised that I ‘fake it until I make it.’  At the time I was only two years into my career and my biggest hurdle was my own confidence (or lack of it), particularly as I grew from a support role to owning client relationships. She was 100% correct.  If I could look and sound like I was confident while I was pushing myself beyond my current comfort level, I would eventually be comfortable and have a wider skill set.  I’ve been in some form of client management for my entire career.  A vital part of that equation for my growth was presenting myself as self-assured, particularly in new situations or facing new challenges.  This is also the advice I give to women that I work with when they are struggling with stepping forward into unfamiliar territory.

Put yourself in new situations because that is how you will grow.  Act like you belong there and eventually you will.   

 

Christina Laemers, Associate Director, Paid Digital Media, NYC

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

Work/life balance is hugely important to me for overall mental health, and just general well-being. Having time to dedicate to the things that make me feel whole is so vital, so I do what I can to make the time for them. I fortunately have always been a morning person, so I try to take that time each day to move my body in some capacity (usually running or yoga), meditate, and listen to music while getting ready. Starting my day like that sets me on the right path to deal with whatever may come. I also make sure to use my work hours as effectively as possible so I can get home and spend time with my partner (and our two cats 😊) after work. Monday-Friday are the majority of our hours are at the office, so I try to optimize those hours as best as possible.

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

I have had many different types of managers in my life, and I’ve learned something from each of them, whether that be what to do or what not to do. Early in my career I had a director who, when I came to him about a raise, he told me that “money wasn’t the most important thing.” I couldn’t help but wonder if he would say the same thing to a man asking for a raise. There is a negative stigma associated with women asking for more money (aka asserting their financial worth in the workplace).

Unconscious bias from gendered norms often result in women being viewed as “aggressive” or “bossy” or “money hungry” – all adjectives with negative connotations, while a man in the same situation would be deemed “assertive” or other positive adjectives. Being told money wasn’t the most important thing was beyond demeaning, and it pushed me to talk about my finances with coworkers in ways I would have never done before. In the earlier stages of my career, this helped me to feel more comfortable advocating for myself as I had information to back up my requests.

 Robin Bronce, Senior Director, COS, Minnesota

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

You don’t need know everything and that it’s okay to lean on others. Surround yourself with smart people and let them help and support you where they can.  It is also okay, to not have the answer at your fingertips, but you do need to know where to find and get the answer. 

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

Have a good work ethic and be adaptable to change.  Just because we did something one way last week does not mean that we do it the same this week.  Always be willing to listen and learn in order to expand your knowledge.  We never fail if we don’t try, and if we don’t try we never grow.  Learn from your mistakes, acknowledge them, take ownership, let it go and move on.  Stay humble.

What are you most passionate about, both inside and outside the workplace? 

Inside the workplace, it is about the people.  I feel very passionate about the growth of my team and the people I am responsible for.  I feel all managers should communicate often, listen, and take the time with their team members on a personal level and give them a plan for growth.  Having a plan for their professional growth, taking an interest and communicating regularly, I believe, promotes tenure.   Outside the workplace? I am passionate about my family, they have and will always come first. I love hard and unconditionally.

Yasmin Li – Structured Data Project Lead, London 

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

For me one of the greatest challenges has been learning to set healthy expectations and not compare my progress to others. The beauty of working in a collaborative environment is that we all have a different perspective to bring, and there will be times where others may be better in one area or skill than you and that is okay. It doesn’t have to take away from the value that you bring as there will be other areas where you may be stronger than someone else – and that’s okay too!  

I try to take an active role in celebrating other people’s successes, as it helps to shift the focus away from any self-doubt or insecurity, and puts it in its right place – encouragement.

I am also known for throwing a little party if I do something I think is pretty awesome too, and I’ve learned it’s powerful to love yourself and celebrate the little wins – even if it is just getting a query working! 

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