Women in Marketing Share What it Takes to Succeed
Last month, RED Academy hosted Women of Influence, a panel discussion that took aim at some of the biggest issues facing professional women in marketing today. We were incredibly lucky to be joined by Meagan Tanner, Strategic Partner Manager at Google, Kristy Bates, Marketing Manager at Uber, and Adrianne Wotherspoon, General Manager at Traffik Group. Here are some of our takeaways…
YOUR VOICE MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORKPLACE
Meagan Tanner: “Having worked in three different countries, I find that your experience with being a woman in the workplace depends upon where you live. In Canada I find there’s more of an ‘unconscious bias’.
For example, a male colleague and I were in a meeting with a very large partner. In this meeting he referred to me as ‘young lady’. I’m certain he meant this in a complimentary way. Afterwards I had to approach him and tell him that when he referred to me in that way he takes away from my authority as a negotiator. Most of your male colleagues want to know how to contribute and how to be better and make things better. Don’t just shrug it off.”
HAVING CHILDREN DOESN’T NEED TO DEFINE YOUR CAREER
Meagan Tanner: “Kids are an area of concern unique to women — men simply cannot understand this problem the way that we do. The real struggle is that childbearing age falls into the most pivotal career time. It’s a time when you want to be putting your head down, doing the work and climbing the ranks. You start to wonder; ‘can a year off slow me down? How does that time affect me? Does it affect my career long term?’ This is an issue that actually exists and it’s worth continuing the conversation about.”
Adrianne Wotherspoon: “I remember vividly a conversation I had where I was asked ‘are you a career girl or a mom?’ It hadn’t occurred to me that those were my options, but many of the women that came before me had to make that choice. It’s starting to get better, but there’s still a long way to go.”
“I have two children myself, so that’s two mat leaves; two years off. Do I think it set my career back two years? I don’t think it did. Every time I came back to work with significant focus and determination that I wasn’t going to let it affect me. Was I scared? I’d say it was a concern, but I went in with the approach of mind over matter. Parenthood is as much a factor as you want it to be.”
THERE’S A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NEW HIRE AND A GREAT HIRE
Kristy Bates: “When you’re hiring it’s a given that you want someone who checks the boxes, but what sets someone apart is their ability to elevate those around them. You want to find the person that can come in, take the ball and run with it.”
“If you’re interviewing it’s so important to be yourself and to articulate your passion. Don’t forget you’re interviewing the other person too — you want to make sure it’s a cultural fit for you and for them.”
Meagan Tanner: “To me the biggest difference is this — who shows up for the interview, and who shows up for the job. You might be ready to walk me through your resume and answer the questions you get in an interview, but I need someone that understands the business, the job, and the challenges that come with it.”
WOMEN IN MARKETING / LIFE BALANCE ISN’T A TOTAL MYTH
Kristy Bates: “When I first started working at Uber I felt totally overwhelmed. There was so much work to be done and I totally lost my life. This was especially hard for me because I find I really draw my energy and enthusiasm from my friends and family. I was so focused on work at the time that I couldn’t find the time to see my friends or my family and I was starting to feel like I was drowning.”
“I decided I needed to have an open and honest conversation with my manager and he was so supportive. We worked together to manage my workload and he really helped me to prioritize. It can take a conversation, learning to push back little and setting some non-negotiables for myself, but you can have the time to have the life you feel you need.”
Adrianne Wotherspoon: “I decided very early on in my career what was important to me — everything else I outsource. You cannot do everything. Personally, cooking for my family and for myself is very important to me, so even if it means waking up at 5:30 AM to do it, I make that happen. If I can’t be home to cook dinner, I make sure they have something that I’ve prepared. It’s important to me, and I make sure it’s something that happens.”
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Dan Ophaug is a copy and content writer currently based in Toronto, Ontario. Born and raised in the UK, Dan has also spent time living in Montreal and New Brunswick. With a background in both journalism and film studies, he decided his real passion was in writing, and has since worked with everyone from arts publications to tech startups to produce creative content.