How the benefits of IAB’s Mentorship Program “flow both ways”

IAB mentorship

This year’s applications close on July 20th

Back in 2019, IAB Australia launched its Mentorship Program to support up-and-coming talent employed by its member companies. The Mentorship Program works to provide a way for the industry to support rising digital media and advertising talent, and this year’s applications close on July 20th.

Mediaweek caught up with a mentor pair who have just completed the recent round of the mentoring program – Sophie Gallagher, senior strategist at Slingshot, and Rhys Williams, Google ANZ managing director, media sales specialists, to chat about their time with the program.

Sophie Gallagher – senior strategist, Slingshot

Sophie Gallagher

Sophie Gallagher

Why did you sign up for the mentoring program?

“Throughout my career so far, I have found mentorships to be one of the most important factors for growth and momentum – and my IAB Mentorship with Rhys has been pivotal to that this year. I was looking to supercharge my leadership skills, grow my business acumen and make a greater impact on this industry, and being able to learn from one of the country’s best digital leaders as part of this program was key to me developing this skillset.

“Also having the opportunity to receive candid feedback and fresh insights from someone I don’t work with on a day-to-day basis was something I was really looking forward to receiving. I feel very grateful that I was encouraged to apply for the program from my incredible team at Slingshot, as they too believe in the importance of personal and professional development.”

How valuable is it to have a one-on-one mentor in the industry?

“Having a one-on-one mentor is crucial to your success in this industry. We are so lucky to be able to work in an industry that encourages you to keep learning and growing – that is never stagnant, and always changing. But to be able to keep up, be passionate and grow, you need to be able to learn directly from experts – and that’s what the IAB Mentorship provides.

“Having a mentor is incredibly inspiring. They help you visualise what skills you need to develop and encourage you to zero in on your passion points. They also help you create your career roadmap and give you the confidence to go and achieve it. A mentor is invaluable, and something I feel very privileged to have experienced.”

Are there any big industry issues you think the program can help address?

“One of the biggest areas Rhys and I worked on was around confidence, goal setting and building a robust development plan. That is why the IAB Mentorship program is a pivotal pillar to the growth of female leaders in our industry. While women account for 60% of the media and advertising industry, they are largely underrepresented (46%) in leadership roles.

“But having a mentor that can help develop your confidence, own your successes, discover your areas for opportunity, and teach you key skills to make an impact can set more women and under-represented communities up for success. It has continued to inspire me to become a champion and mentor for women and diverse voices myself and leave a positive impact on our industry.”

What would you say to anyone else considering signing up?

“Don’t hesitate! This is an incredible opportunity, and even putting your application together – successful or not – is an amazing way to reflect on what you are looking for in your career. If you are successful, get ready to have a lot of growth, development, and inspiration. To have the opportunity to be able to hear from and learn from some of the country’s best digital leaders is something that cannot be missed. I feel so grateful for Rhys’ time and dedication, and to have had the chance to learn so much from him in such a short amount of time. This program has had an indelible impact on my career.”

Rhys Williams – Google ANZ managing director, media sales specialists

IAB mentorship

Rhys Williams

Why did you sign up for the mentoring program?

“I see so much new and emerging talent in our industry, and increasingly from different walks of life, which is great to see but our industry can also be really tough sometimes with different obstacles to crash through from people to processes. When I think about my own career development, I’ve been lucky enough to have had some great mentors over the years who have made the world of difference, even down to small bits of advice.

“So knowing what it meant for me, it was a no brainer when the IAB launched its mentorship program and I had the opportunity to get involved. It’s more than just being a ‘nice to do’ thing though, I genuinely believe there’s an opportunity cost for our industry when we don’t do a good job of supporting future talent, which is a loss for everyone.”

What do you take away from the program?

“The fact that the insights and learning most definitely flow both ways – it’s not a one way street. I’ve found it hugely beneficial to discuss industry and personal development topics with Sophie. It’s influenced how I think about my own work and life, and things that I put into practice.”

In your eyes, how can the industry better support rising talent?

“Having programs like this is amazing, but we don’t need to wait for an invite to actively find opportunities to mentor new talent. It’s also simply being aware of where someone you know might be wanting some advice on how to tackle something, or how to deal with a tricky stakeholder, and you offering to listen and share some helpful pointers.

“I think the industry can also do a better job taking more time to have regular, dedicated, and purposeful career development discussions on an individual basis. This will help narrow down where someone’s strengths, passions and areas for development are, and uncover opportunities for further experience, education, and exposure to help them grow in their career.”

What would you say to anyone else considering signing up?

“Just do it, whether you’re interested in being a mentor or mentee. We talk a lot about nurturing and supporting new talent coming through the ranks, but as a mentor you get so much out of it – it’s one of the most rewarding things to do in my experience. Ultimately, it also makes our industry and output better. Seeing people you’ve helped guide at some point go on to bigger and better things is a great feeling.”

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