Last month, the IMAA launched its Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme as part of its commitment to fostering long-term diversity and inclusivity across independent media agencies nationally.
The six-month programme aims to create a support network between accomplished industry leaders and their mentees by matching senior staff with up-and-coming women in indie media agencies for knowledge-sharing and professional development opportunities.
One of the IMAA mentors involved in the programme is Lara Brownlow, head of channel sales APAC at LinkedIn, who tells Mediaweek about the importance of mentorship in the industry.
What’s the most important/best piece of advice you’ve received during your career
“In the first few years of my career, working as a sales coordinator, I was paired with the magnificent Michelle Dooley, who taught me about the importance of understanding your customer’s business, asking the right questions, and becoming invaluable to your customers in the long term. This customer-centric approach has consistently helped me thrive in whatever role I’ve taken.
“Dools, as she is affectionately known, also emphasised the importance of having fun. She would often remind me, ‘We’re not saving lives,’ and ensured we found time for laughter each day.”
Who do you look up to in business and why?
“Where do I begin? Just kidding, but I truly admire so many! I want to specifically highlight leaders who speak authentically. It’s easy to project a polished professional image, but I admire those who succeed while openly discussing the challenging times or obstacles they’ve overcome.
“Melissa Hopkins at Seven is a great LinkedIn follow in this regard. Sunita Gloster AM is someone I deeply admire as she eloquently and passionately fights for what’s right in our industry and society at large. Lastly, my good pal Naomi Shepherd at Meta, a long-time friend and former colleague who balances work and personal life seamlessly and actively supports other women. At LinkedIn, we have far too many senior leaders I could mention, but you all know who you are, and I don’t want to come across as too biased.”
Did you have a mentor and what did they teach you?
“Absolutely! I’m lucky to have a few incredible mentors, each offering me different perspectives. One is an incredible cheerleader who helps me quiet my inner critic, another is my go-to for anything tech-related due to their expertise in the field and their grasp of cutting-edge technology. And then there’s my coaching/challenger mentor who pushes me to think differently about things. I truly couldn’t navigate without all three, and they’ve played a pivotal role in my success in this industry. Special shout-outs to a couple of my support crew: Liam Walsh and Danika Johnston.”
What does mentoring mean to you and why is mentoring important?
“Mentoring to me means having people in your corner who are genuinely invested in your success. They want the best for you and provide candid feedback with the intention of helping you grow. Mentors offer fresh perspectives and illuminate new opportunities or ways of thinking that are crucial for personal development.”
Why is it important to have more women leaders in the industry?
“Having more women leaders in the advertising field is a significant deal. It’s not solely about fairness – though that’s undeniably important. Research has shown that more women leaders lead to better business metrics. The lack of women in leadership positions, often referred to as the ‘glass ceiling’, isn’t just a concern for those directly affected; it’s also about challenging conventional norms and advancing equality across industries.”
What’s on your business reading and podcast list?
“I’m a big fan of podcasts and tune into various professional and personal series. One podcast I enjoy is the NY Times’ Hard Fork, which delves into the latest developments in the tech industry. For personal growth, I listen to How To Fail with Elizabeth Day, and I also engage with a variety of podcasts from the global and local trade press.”
Top Image: IMAA mentor Lara Brownlow