Earlier in the year, 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 IMAA 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 Mark Fairhurst, executive general manager at QMS.
What’s the most important/best piece of advice you’ve received during your career?
Four pearls of wisdom have resonated with me over the years:
• When people shake your hand, they should get all of their fingers back. The power of trust
• Blowing somebody else’s candle out doesn’t make yours burn any brighter.
• If in doubt….do something!
• This year’s great is next year’s hygiene factor…..what’s next?
Did you have a mentor and what did they teach you?
I have worked with a lot of amazing people I would call mentors. It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect and everyone has blind spots, insecurities and behaviour patterns. Me included!
In my case, I am a keen observer and seeker of the truth. I believe this has allowed me to take some great lessons and experience from every leader I have worked with… things that have shaped me and things that I hope I have left behind.
Great mentors in my life have demonstrated the following traits that have lifted my performance, confidence and motivation:
1. Trust, respect and authority/freedom. Believing in someone has incredible power
2. Responsibility/accountability always came with the authority to make it so
3. Performance analytics and the truth will set you free. That is. If you can’t or won’t measure it, how can you manage it?
4. Momentum is where the magic is….understand the ingredients
5. Don’t confuse ambition with ability. Know your craft and your business. Teams can always spot a lightweight leader who doesn’t add value.
What does mentoring mean to you and why is mentoring important?
To me, mentoring is, in a lot of ways, about helping the mentee find perspective and clarity. The process of listening, observing and asking questions can lead to light bulb moments and shape future pathways.
My mentors not only provide a sounding board and the occasional wake up call, but are also an enduring reminder of who I am, what I stand for and how far I have come. That belief and encouragement is often the special sauce that gets me through the next challenge.
Why is it important to have more women leaders in the industry?
I have worked with some incredibly talented and successful women and benefitted greatly from the experience. As a consequence, I definitely have a bias. However, rather than a gender choice, my focus has always been on the individual attributes of capability, commitment, collaboration, resilience and what I call ‘engine size’, that is, the ability to dig deep, find another level and strive to win.
In general and as Yoda said…..’Balance in all things is the key.’
Diversity, in any way you look at it, delivers superior outcomes, while too much of one thing creates toxic culture and “group think” stagnation.
For me personally, I grew up in a male dominated media world and witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly. Fortunately, I had the privilege to work for a wonderful leader named Pamela Lohse early on in my career. Pam was tough, courageous and set a high bar for human behaviour, respect and performance. Pam believed in me and helped me broaden my perspective. She helped me to see that good performance and diversity of experience was way more important than simply being liked, entitled or protected.
What’s on your business reading and podcast list?
Financial Review to start every day, Sun Tzu for strategy, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team –by Patrick Lencioni and Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink – I have two sons. These are books they relate to.
Top Image: Mark Fairhurst