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Managing Marketing: Diversity and Agency Brand Building

Mish_Fletcher

Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by TrinityP3 Founder and Global CEO, Darren Woolley. Each podcast is a conversation with a thought-leader, professional or practitioner of marketing and communications on the issues, insights and opportunities in the marketing management category. Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media and commercial communications professionals.

Mish Fletcher is the Chief Growth Officer for IPG (Interpublic Group) Asia-Pacific. She is also an industry professional passionate about public relations, building agency brands and growing agency businesses including OgilvyOne, Accenture Interactive, FCB/SIX and more. It is a skill she has used to build the profiles of the agency leaders she has worked with, and more recently for herself. Mish is a TrinityP3 Marketing Mentor and she shares with us the passion and the lessons she has learned along the way from Australia to the UK, the USA and back to Asia.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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Transcription:

Darren:

Welcome to Managing Marketing, a weekly podcast where we discuss the issues and opportunities facing marketing, media, and advertising with industry thought leaders and practitioners.

Today, I’m sitting down with Mish Fletcher, Chief Growth Officer for Asia-Pacific for IPG, also known as the Interpublic Group. Welcome, Mish.

Mish:

Thank you, Darren. It’s great to be here.

Darren:

Mish, I said the Interpublic Group — most people in the industry know IPG but a lot of people actually don’t remember that that actually means the Interpublic Group, which is a publicly listed company on the New York stock exchange, correct?

Mish:

That’s right. And my email address is actually at Interpublic, so I have a reminder of that every day.

Darren:

And Interpublic Group actually represents quite a diverse portfolio of quite strong industry brands, doesn’t it? You’ve got some really great brands in there.

Mish:

Absolutely. Well, arguably, I would say some of the most instantly recognisable creative and media brands. Obviously, McCANN is huge, MullenLowe, R/GA. And then within the media brand side of things, obviously, UM, Initiative and then some really fabulous PR agencies as well, such as Weber Shandwick and Golin.

There’s also our newer capabilities that we’ve acquired in more recent years; Acxiom, which is our data company, Kinesso which is our customer intelligence agency, Hedy which is our marketing automation, and then IPG Studios, which is all about agile production. So, yeah, we’ve got a very, very robust offering that we go to market with.

Darren:

And it’s a truly global network, isn’t it? I think IPG has operations in virtually every country in the world.

Mish:

I think it’s about a hundred countries. Yeah, that’s right. And obviously, in Australia and I’m very fortunate to be here as well.

Darren:

So, one of the big issues that I think the whole industry is really struggling with — and I say struggle, is diversity and inclusion because this is an issue that’s been around for decades, but it’s interesting that during the pandemic, it really came to the fore, not just for the industry, but especially in the US and other markets with what was happening in the world. But the advertising industry particularly has been confronted by it and is working hard to address it, I imagine.

Mish:

Yes, absolutely. I think for years Madison Avenue, I was in New York for many years, and it really was being run by grey-haired, white guys. And they’re not really representative of the rest of the population and certainly, not representative of many of our client’s customers.

You know, I think it was Marc Pritchard when he got the top job at Procter & Gamble somewhere like 2014, 2015, something like that. And he basically challenged all of his agencies and said, “I don’t wanna see the same faces all around this boardroom. I want to see the reflection of the types of people who are buying my products.”

And he’s selling tide detergent, and nappies and stuff like that. Like we need to make sure that we’re having this diversity of thought and bringing that to the table, and that’s super, super important.

Darren:

And it’s interesting, you mentioned the faces around the boardroom. One of the big areas and a figure that’s thrown up is that 70 plus or 80% of all purchase decisions are made by women and yet, agencies today still often find themselves with most of the senior leadership still largely men, isn’t that right?

Mish:

Yes. I would agree with that. And look, I do think we’re seeing that change and I certainly think there have been some really, really strong trailblazing women who’ve broken the glass ceiling. Somebody like Shelly Lazarus who’s now the Chairman Emeritus of Ogilvy but obviously she led Ogilvy for a very, very long time.

And I think that she was perhaps one of the first women to lead a big agency network. But you’re right like we’ve known for years when we assemble teams, you need to get people who bring different skills to the team. You’ve got this person who’s really creative and this person who’s analytical and this person who’s really organised, and we’ve always known that we need those different personality types.

But it seems to have eluded the industry that we also need this sort of representation from across the population. These people who’ve had different lived experiences can bring a different perspective to the business.

Darren:

The other one that often comes up as well, is the ageism in advertising because it flippantly is called the young person’s business. And yet in many ways, that’s true because as you rise through the ranks of advertising, invariably, we all get older, but there are not as many positions at the top as there are at the bottom. And so, often, we find a lot of great talent and experience actually leaving the big jobs in the big agencies.

Mish:

Or getting pushed out. And I think that that’s changing. I’ve seen some really great female leaders that I’ve worked within agencies over the years who are actually landing some really big plum roles. So, I would like to believe that it’s changing.

I must say my experience at Accenture was such that at Accenture, your age and experience were really valued. And that was quite a reassuring perspective. And also, there was a much greater propensity to hire people, for example, with disabilities

And having come through the agency ranks, I’d never had the opportunity to meet with somebody with a disability, they just weren’t represented at the agency level. But within Accenture, there’s this attitude that we actually want to hire people with disabilities because they know how to problem solve and they know how to get things done.

Darren:

I also through our practice in the US, get the sense that it’s even a hotter issue, this whole area of diversity and inclusion than it is in other markets. The US really seems to be driving this globally because in many ways of the social inequities that are occurring there. I mean, how long were you in the US for? It was more than a decade, wasn’t it?

Mish:

Yes, 17 years.

Darren:

And you would’ve seen those issues evolving over that time.

Mish:

Yes. And everything, I think, really kind of bubbled up to the surface during COVID and with the murder of George Floyd, and all of the civil unrest and protests, mostly peaceful protests. There were some patches of rioting and violence and stuff like that.

But yes, it felt like this sort of sense that everybody had just had enough. And that COVID was in a way maybe the straw that broke the camel’s back and everybody was just like, “No, we’re not taking this anymore. Things have to change.” And there was this huge energy and groundswell that I certainly felt and experienced while I was there.

Darren:

And that’s juxtaposed by the Trump presidency, which was very much this rise of the working class and particularly, the white working class, that had also been disenfranchised by what many people call neoliberalism. That the rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. And we had white poor people feeling that they were also being disenfranchised as well.

Mish:

I think that’s true. And I think the hallmark of Trump’s presidency will always be one of divisiveness. And I think he did a lot of damage.

Darren:

Now, it’s an interesting journey. You’ve already mentioned Accenture Interactive, but let’s go back to there you are sitting in high school, going to university, and then suddenly saying to yourself, “What’s my career? What am I gonna do?” How did you get into PR? It was PR, wasn’t it?

Mish:

I started in PR. Okay, so let’s go way back. Thank you, Darren. But yes, when I left school, I went to the University of New South Wales and I studied a bachelor of commerce, majoring in marketing. And I loved the marketing subjects and we had one subject on PR and I just thought it sounded really interesting and sort of an opportunity to shift perceptions.

And I had this notion as well, that I was gonna get involved in doing good for society as well by joining the PR profession. But of course, when uni finished, I couldn’t wait to leave. So, I took a year off and backpacked around Europe by myself, and then came back right during the middle of a recession. And that wasn’t great.

And each week, there’d be one marketing job advertised in the newspaper and there were like 500 applicants for this one job for an entry-level marketing person. So, I had a job that was paying the bills, but I was deeply unhappy and I was determined to get into PR. So, I actually enrolled in some post-graduate study.

So, I was studying PR part-time and I recognised that if I wanted to break into this profession, I needed some experience. So, I started doing volunteer work. So, I was working for a charity. It was a charitable organisation, not-for-profit. It was the Friends of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. So, I was working full time, studying part-time and doing-

Darren:

Pro bono work.

Mish:

Volunteer. Yeah, pro bono work, exactly. And anyhow, so desperately wanted to break into PR and I took a week off work and I researched the top PR agencies in Sydney and the people who were making the hiring decisions. And I got all dressed up in my power suit with my gold buttons and my shoulder pads. And I basically walked into the reception of all of these agencies and just demanded to see Ian Cropper.

And they would go, “Do you have an appointment?” And I would say “No, but he needs to meet me because I’m his next great hire.” And half the time, Ian Cropper or whoever would come out because he was like, “Who is this person in reception?” And then I had two notes prepared. One, if he chose to see me, and I would say, “This is me, this is my resume. You need to hire me.” And I kind of had my spiel. And then the other one was if he couldn’t hire me. And that’s how I got my job. That’s how I got my break in PR.

Darren:

Fantastic. Now, look, first of all, I will say, and please forgive me — I said “way back” only because, in this industry, anything that’s more than five years seems like a long time ago, and we sort of write it off as ancient history. So, I’m not casting any judgment value on the start of your career because I think-

Mish:

Not at all.

Darren:

Experience counts for everything.

Secondly, why PR? When you’ve done a course in marketing, PR is actually sort of a segment of marketing and a particular, very particular segment. What was it?

Mish:

I just, well, as I said, I thought that maybe I could do some good. I could work on issues that were important to me. And that job that I did take was at the Rowland Company, which was later required by Edelman. And I was involved in some campaigns such as Clean Up Australia, which was really important.

I was also involved in a lot of issues-based health accounts, which again was something that really kind of resonated with me. I didn’t really like all of the quantitative sides of the marketing, so I just wanted to work more on the promotional side. But definitely, that desire to do something that was going to change the world, I think I was very idealistic back then.

Darren:

It’s interesting because the advertising agencies that particularly get cut through also particularly get the power of PR, not to just promote the ads they’ve made, but actually coming up with ideas that work in PR, that work at getting audiences to get excited or be interested or stand out. And I’m thinking Droga5’s a good example.

I did an interview with Anthony Freedman at Host; Host was certainly built on that. Thinkerbell today, is definitely a company in Australia that does that. So, is that also part of it, because there is something quite powerful and quite immediate about PR.

Mish:

I think that’s a really interesting observation that the work that seems to be getting traction, just maybe taps into some sort of social phenomenon or something that we think is really going to capture the imagination of the public, and then the work flows through that.

So, yeah, I would agree. I think that when we think about activations, we think about cut through, we think about seizing headlines, you’re right, that is very PR-driven. And I also think a lot of the distinctions that we make between PR and digital and advertising, I mean, everything seems to be really kind of blurring into one. Would you agree with that?

Darren:

Absolutely. I think this omnichannel approach or this idea that it’s not just about doing your advertising, that it’s actually looking at every opportunity of engaging an audience. Because one of the hardest things to do today is to actually compete for someone’s attention. I mean, there are so many things that you’re competing with that finding the most powerful channels and leveraging them well is so important.

Mish:

Right. And then all of the media fragmentation and everybody’s attention is so split; how can you kind of encompass the individual with a campaign that really seizes the imagination? I do think it is also tapping into some sort of cultural phenomenon or something that’s really topical or relevant, and that’s a really great PR skill.

Darren:

So, Mish, one of the things I noticed is that from going into PR, you then ended up really using those skills, the PR skills in what is the classic B2B category, which is helping agencies promote themselves. I mean of all the things that a PR person could do, you ended up really specialising and excelling at working with agencies where a lot of people say, “Well, advertising agencies should know how to promote themselves,” but they don’t, do they? They really do need people to help them work out how to do that.

Mish:

A hundred per cent. The cobbler’s children, I would definitely think is the case. And you’re right, I did then kind of parlay my PR experience into an opportunity in London. And then I went to work for a technology-led PR agency called McLaurin. And it was actually my old boss at the Rowland Company who then tapped me to move to London because I’d always said that I wanted to live and work overseas. I sort of felt that I needed to spread my wings and go elsewhere.

And I had the opportunity to establish essentially that….we called it business communications and that was the department. And the specialty was working with agency brands and in fact, communications brands. We had media brands and we had design brands and basically, we were working for all of these clients in order to build their reputations in the B2B space. And I really liked it.

Darren:

Because a lot of agencies sort of sit there wondering why they do great work for their clients, why don’t they become instantly famous? And it’s because they don’t really get how to build their own brand, do they?

Mish:

No, they don’t. I also think that there’s this kind of weird phenomenon in advertising agencies where they separate, they tend to separate out the growth function and the marketing function. Or they have comms people and then growth people, and they might kind of talk to each other, but there’s no overarching strategy.

And I think that that’s a real opportunity to do both new business and marketing and bring it all under one roof because then you get all of the synergies from doing it like that.

Darren:

And that’s so true. I mean, there’s the team that fill out the mindless RFPs and there’s those that actually do trade media management and events and things like that, really as ways and publications as ways of building the profile of the agency.

Mish:

Yeah, exactly. And so, for example, if we wanted to launch a new capability, and I’ve done many of those over the course of my career; but launch the capability, but think about it with the end at the beginning, which is, well, we want to generate leads and we want to drive revenue for this capability. So, then how can we get back into it? And then how can we actually create the angle, create the hypothesis, and the hook for, let’s say a piece of thought leadership or an original piece of research that actually then points to the capability that we’re wanting to sell.

And then how can we surround our targets with all of these touch points as you mentioned before, and that’s PR, and it’s also maybe just play, straight sales enablement and actually meetings and how can we create all of the assets and all of the materials to stitch the whole campaign together, as opposed to just kind of thinking about it through separate lenses. And I’m jumping ahead in my career here. I was going to talk about what was a lot of what I did when I was at OgilvyOne.

Darren:

And B2B is quite different from B2C as well. I mean, people say it’s the same discipline, but it’s actually quite a different way of thinking. I know business people are still people, but a consumer purchase is quite a different consideration to a business purchase.

Mish:

Absolutely. And we know that the sales cycle is much longer and much more complex in the B2B world than it is in the B2C world. And actually, that’s one of the things that I like about it. It’s sort of a little bit more of a long game and a little bit more of a challenge. Yes, there could be sort of some short-term impact, but you’re really going to see the results, the effectiveness of your work further down the line.

And that’s also, building the reputation and the more you build the reputation, the more you build your business and the more you build your business, the more you build the brand. And then it sort of becomes this hopefully cumulative process like a snowball cascading down the hill.

Darren:

One of the things I noticed as a copywriter in agencies was that it was very difficult to get anyone, even senior management to commit to a particular positioning or a set of values that they stood for because they wanted to be everything to everyone. They didn’t want to actually etch out a particular positioning because what if a potential client came along and that didn’t suit that client.

And yet, that’s one of the things that agencies are highly critical of their clients for – not committing to the unique selling proposition or the ultimate positioning in the marketplace. And yet agencies still struggle with it because driven by what you said before, the growth says, “I want as many clients as possible, and I don’t mind where they come from,” but marketing actually says “Let’s stand for something, and have that be the thing that differentiates or makes us distinctive from all the other agencies.”

Mish:

Oh, yeah. Well said. And yes, having done many agency credentials over the years, I can tell you that it’s pretty hard to reach a consensus. And you’ve got a lot of people with very, very strong opinions, but you’re right. We would advise our clients to establish a clear point of difference and crack open that sort of gap, and then charge through it. So, yes, you’re absolutely right. We need to do the same.

And I think that that sort of raises an interesting point around the commoditisation of the industry, and the importance now more than ever of really having that clear point of view.

Darren:

I’ve sat through thousands of credentials presentations, and very few of them stand out because everyone ends up saying the same thing. It’s almost like there’s a list of things that everyone thinks they should be, and they just automatically, the water runs into those positions and everyone ticks it off and you walk outta there going “What am I meant to remember?”

And the other thing is occasionally, you’ll have an agency that has a very clear, powerful and distinctive proposition, which they might put up front, they might bury it somewhere in the middle, or they might mention it as you’re walking out the door at the end. But very few of them are committed to actually building the whole story around that proposition, and actually reinforcing it over and over again.

Because one of the things that we say to our clients is say it, say it again, say, say, and just keep saying it until it gets in. But agencies will change the proposition as quickly as they change their underpants daily, hopefully.

Mish:

Hopefully, exactly, exactly. And I think our industry has undergone a lot of change certainly in the time that I’ve been fortunate to be part of the advertising industry. It’s such an incredible transformation. It’s quite interesting as well.

Like when I first joined OgilvyOne, and OgilvyOne, for those who don’t know is/was — doesn’t exist as a brand anymore, but it was sort of the digital data tech arm of Ogilvy. And when I first joined, it was in many ways, we were  the poor cousin, and that nobody thought that the data tech space was particularly sexy or interesting.

It was all about what was then called above the line, and doing 30-second TVCs and maybe a two-minute cut for cinema or something like that. But I just have observed that how the tables have turned because now, everybody wants to be in the  data-inspired tech-enabled space, because we know that that is what’s delivering value for clients.

It’s all about being able to target your audience with laser precision, and serve up really meaningful messages that are going to resonate with them and translate into action and build loyalty, and there you go.

Darren:

I love this because I was a big fan of Lester Wunderman who only passed away a couple of years ago. But what Lester was writing about in the sixties and seventies, of pathways, mapping out customer pathways and having a typing pool of women typing out personalised letters and mailing them to people with paid responses. And when the response came out, they’d get either response, A, B or C going back and it was done over weeks and weeks because it was all done by letter and mail, the post.

Mish:

And can you imagine how he felt with the digitisation of the industry and……

Darren:

Real-time response with ultimate personalisation based on customer data and at scale. The thing that would limit is how many typers can I fit in the typing pool? Whereas now, it’s how many terabytes can I put on the server and how much grunt can I put behind it … and is my AI effective in actually learning from the responses that I see from my customers to be able to personalise their experience and increase the chance of converting.

Mish:

And isn’t that awesome that he lived to see that happen?

Darren:

Absolutely.

Mish:

And in fact, I never really met him personally, but I have certainly been at events in which he was honoured. So, yeah, a true icon and yeah, somebody who really transformed the industry.

Darren:

But he also saw that transformation of, as you said before, the below the line became the game and everyone wanted to play it. I love it when I’m talking to people and they go, “Well, I used to be what was called a direct marketer.” And I go, “I love you already,” because I think direct marketers are the ones that know the philosophy, the methodology that needs to be applied today.

There are too many people working in digital and tech that are digital and tech people, but they don’t actually get direct marketing. They get the technology and they don’t get the way of using it for human beings because human beings haven’t changed that much in a hundred thousand years.

Mish:

Yeah, you’re right. It’s like the golden age of direct marketing.

Darren:

It is. Yeah, absolutely. So, that’s OgilvyOne, but then you went to Accenture Interactive. I mean, in many ways that’s why leap, isn’t it?

Mish:

Isn’t it? Well, it was kind of the same job. I was the global head of marketing at OgilvyOne, and then I became the global head of marketing at Accenture Interactive. And I think in many ways, I kind of joined that pivotal moment when Accenture Interactive wanted to compete head-to-head with agencies.

So, it was a great opportunity and a hell of a ride. And we did some incredible things during the three years that I was there, and certainly built such a strong agency brand and launched some great capabilities, worked very closely with Brian Whipple, the former CEO of Accenture Interactive. So, yeah, it was pretty wild.

Darren:

But it was also a time when Accenture and the other consulting firms were seen as the enemy of the agencies. And it’s only been recently with acquisitions of some big creative agency brands like Droga5 and Karmarama and the like, that that started to change. But even then, they’re still seen as pretenders or are they real threats or what is it?

Mish:

Yeah. Well, and that whole consultancies versus agencies narrative was getting pretty tired. And that was actually one of the reasons why we wanted to create an entirely new category. And that was the experience agency.

And it was actually, Anatoly Roytman who was the head of Accenture Interactive in Europe. And he initially had this vision around creating an experience-agency. And so, that was one of the things that we wanted to do, was just go, well, hold on, consultancies versus agencies, that’s boring. Let’s just create an entirely new category.

And what tends to happen in my experience, when you try to create a new category is that you are initially met with cynicism and when the media report on it, they’ll use quotation marks around experience agency as though this isn’t a real thing. But then, of course, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. And over time, now, there were lots of agencies that-

Darren:

Everyone’s doing it.

Mish:

We’re an “experience agency”, there you go. There you go. So, I have a bit of a chuckle when I say that.

Darren:

But then you went from Accenture Interactive back to the agency in a way, FCB/SIX.

Mish:

Yeah. And I went from a huge Accenture Interactive to something that was really, really small. And that was quite deliberate.

Darren:

Was there a big Godfather part two; “Just as I got out, they dragged me back in” — was that the sort of …

Mish:

Oh, the agency works … yeah. And I think after having worked for a really big company, I was really inspired to work for a small company. And I was very impressed with the CEO, Andrea Cook, and FCB/SIX has now been reinvented as Performance Art. It’s still within the IPG family.

But what really attracted me to the agency was just the incredible work those guys were doing, some really, really groundbreaking work. Bringing together creativity and data in a way that nobody was, like really re-imagining what was possible, some really breakthrough work for the company that specialises in black travel.

We did some amazing work for Destination Pride with PFLAG. Some incredible work as well with Tarana Burke’s MeToo organisation. And what was so interesting about all of that is that it was platforms, it was platforms that lived on. It wasn’t like a short burst campaign and those platforms still exist for all of those clients that we work for. And I just thought that is really interesting. That is the future. So, I was really, really attracted to that.

Darren:

It’s really interesting that you say that because a lot of the industry talks about creative ideas or creative platforms, but really, they’re talking about executions in a way; executions on a strategy, but actually building platforms that exist within the culture and within society is so powerful because as you say, it gets cultural support, it gets people-support that carrys them on beyond the campaign or beyond the execution.

Mish:

Yeah, and as the platform exists and it generates data, that data then informs the platform and that continues to grow and evolve. And it just becomes this almost organic thing that people will go back to time and time again, versus something that’s just a flash in the pan. So, I thought that the work that Performance Art was now doing was just so amazing. And of course, now, doing lots of work for BMW in in the US.

Darren:

And then they made you an offer you obviously couldn’t refuse. They said go west, young woman, to Asia-Pacific, the most diverse markets in the world, not just from language, but culture, finance, currency, economy — there’s so many diversities to manage in APAC. I always love it when my European colleagues tell me how diverse Europe is, and I go, “Come and spend some time in Asia-Pacific.” But now, you are here and you’re driving the business growth for IPG across Asia-Pacific.

Mish:

Yes. And gosh, I wish I could go and visit some of the markets, Darren.

Darren:

Soon, soon.

Mish:

Soon, hopefully; desperate, desperate to get off the island and go and meet all of these people that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with virtually over the last seven or eight months. So, yeah, amazing opportunity. And it worked out really well in that … and rarely do things work out quite so well, Darren, when in the middle of the pandemic I just really wanted to be in Australia, it felt like the safest part of the world to be.

And at the same time, my boss, the Global Chief Growth Officer, Simon Bond, was looking for somebody to fill this role. So, very serendipitous for me. And yeah, it’s been amazing. I’ve loved every minute of it. I really love IPG as an organisation. It has a great culture and I feel like it’s a really great fit.

And yeah, amazing people, amazing agencies. And I feel like we’re just getting started, so more to come. Maybe you’ll have me back on your show at some point in the future, and I can tell you all about what we’ve been doing.

Darren:

Absolutely, Mish. And one of the things I’ll be interested in, is that you at an IPG level, you’ve got quite diverse offerings and a very broad spectrum of marketing comms and all the related businesses. You’re now working in quite a diverse marketplace or region, because as I said before, Asia Pacific. You’re going to be working with huge and diverse numbers of people across those marketplaces. What do you see are the biggest challenges or the biggest opportunities in this role?

Mish:

I mean, absolutely the fact that every market is so unique and different. And so, we see a lot of regional activity, but it’s all kind of driven at a local market level. So, that’s certainly been my observation so far.

Yeah, certainly sort of the languages and cultures and I’m still learning all about it. But yeah, I would definitely say that diversity is one and creating regional solutions, but that are very applicable at the local market level. So, yeah, that’s been a big focus.

I think the other part for me is really helping modernise the offering that we are bringing to clients through the lens of data, through tech, like being able to bring these newer assets and capabilities and finding ways to help clients really connect with their customers and grow their businesses.

So, that’s something and I’m working on a market-by-market basis at the moment, but there certainly seems to be a lot of activity. I’m pleased to say that I feel like Asia is starting to reemerge from COVID, there’s some optimism. There seems to be certainly just a lot of RFPs, big flurries of RFPs and just a lot of energy, a lot of, I would say, cautious excitement. But I definitely feel like we’ve turned a corner and I think that it’s gonna be a great year, the year of the tiger.

Darren:

Absolutely. Yes, the year of the tiger this year. What are some of the things that you’ve learnt looking back on your career? What would be the lessons that you’ve taken into this role?

Mish:

You know, I always joke to people that I’m a great coach and mentor because I’ve made all of the mistakes so I can advise people on the mistakes not to make. I think one of the biggest things that I’ve had to learn is to let go of my perfectionist streak. And I think that that’s something that a lot of women suffer from and we just try to get everything perfect, as opposed to just get it out the door. That’s been a really big learning for me.

Another thing is just to re-frame mistakes as experiences and just move on. And once again, I do think women sometimes have a habit of beating ourselves up. And so, definitely, just being able to go “Right, that didn’t go quite the way I wanted it to, so I’m going to learn from that experience and do things differently next time.” So, definitely that.

I think it’s also about knowing your worth and knowing the value that you bring to organisations, and knowing that you can have a conversation. I think women try to avoid some of those difficult conversations around salary and promotions and resourcing, and things like that. And I certainly, have been like that through maybe some of the earliest stages in my career.

But I feel like as you learn through your experiences and you are more prepared to have conversations to help you get both what you want and what the company needs, it’s a two-way stream.

Darren:

I think it’s really interesting. And I’m sitting here listening to your insights, Mish, and I’m thinking it’s also been interesting because you reflect that on the fact that your role has largely been promoting other businesses. Whereas a lot of what you’re talking about is also learning how to promote yourself. And I think a lot of people really struggle with that.

A lot of women will find themselves very comfortable doing all the planning and then putting someone else first, usually a male, to actually deliver that message. But will often feel either it’s because they don’t feel that they’re going to be perfect, they’re going to be concerned around how will they be judged for any mistakes they make or not valuing the worth — the other three that you said to actually stand out and be that voice and be the lead on it. Is that something that you’ve reflected on?

Mish:

Yes, and I have quite consciously spent time building my personal brand because if we want to change some of the issues around lack of female representation at really senior levels of leadership, if we want to change the fact that women earn 23% less than men, what can we as women do differently. And I think it is about visibility, and I think personal branding is a really important part of that.

And for me, branding kind of begins with … your personal branding, it just begins with self-awareness and knowing what your strengths are and what your values are. And then once you’ve been able to identify that, then you can ensure that you live your values, that the actions that you take exhibit those, and really that’s how you build your reputation.

So, for me, something that’s extremely important to me whenever I do like a strengths finder or something like that; something that comes up is honesty and respect, and respect for others. So, I have always tried to be honest and transparent in my interactions with others. For example, I always try to be very punctual because I think that that’s respectful to others to do that.

So, just look for ways to build your personal brand and build your reputation and know that people are going to come to rely on you because of these strengths that you exhibit. And then another part of that is visibility. And I think you’re right. I think women, and I’ve also spent a lot of my career building the reputations of the CEOs that I’ve worked for.

But I think we, as women need to be more comfortable stepping into the spotlight and building our own platforms, having something meaningful to say, and doing things like intentional networking and actually having a robust profile on LinkedIn and agreeing to do podcasts and speak on stage.

Darren:

Look, and the great thing is that there are more and more opportunities. And in fact, I know that a lot of events, industry events are looking for women to step up and want to take the opportunities to share their knowledge, share their perspective, share their particular perspective on a whole range of issues.

Because I think the days of hearing the same group of male, pale and stale is exactly that. And so, this is the opportunity. I know you are a very keen and committed mentor but have you had your own mentors? Are you committed to mentoring because you’ve had some great mentors?

Mish:

I do have some great, great mentors. I would definitely say Brian Fetherstonhaugh, the CEO of OgilvyOne has been an incredible career mentor to me. And also, maybe earlier on in my career, Sue Sutton gave me my first break in PR when I thought I was going to change the world.

And yeah, and I do think it’s very important to have somebody that you can discuss your career issues or opportunities with and bounce things up and get their advice, and people who are more experienced than you and have seen it all.

And yes, I am committed. I do mentor a lot of young women and I’m always just so thrilled when I see them get ahead and get amazing new jobs and opportunities. And if I can play some small part in helping them achieve that, that makes me happy. I think it’s interesting as well, Darren, that you brought the conversation back to diversity; women on stage and speaking and representation. There you go. You’ve done this before.

Darren:

Well, look, you led me there. I was just following where you took the conversation. But Mish, this has been a terrific conversation. I wish you all the luck. You are more than credentialed to do an outstanding job building IPG in AsiaPac. It’s going to have it challenges, I’m sure, but you are more than equipped to excel. So, thank you for taking the time and having a chat today.

Mish:

Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it.

Darren:

Look, I just have one question before you go, and that is do you think that Accenture Interactive will eventually take over the advertising world?

Ideal for marketers, advertisers, media, and commercial communications professionals, Managing Marketing is a podcast hosted by Darren Woolley and special guests. Find all the episodes here

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    Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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