Last week I attended the Marketing Associations Women in Marketing event, and whether the focus was on navigating your own career journey, stereotypes in advertising, diversity and inclusion, or the all too relatable feeling of self-doubt - the message was clear “Be fearless, be curious and be creative”.

The afternoon kicked off with a panel discussion with some pretty impressive women who shared advice on navigating your career journey from their learned experiences - this was a great way to start the event, and as the MC stated “we can all learn from each other, no matter what career stage you’re at, or path you’re on”.

There were a lot of takeaways from this, so to summarise; be curious, make a reputation, surround yourself with people you can learn from, work in an industry you love, think creatively, be human, look after yourself, use your emotions (because robots can’t), play to and embrace your strengths, do what scares you.

Importantly though:

  1. Lead with empathy
  2. Trust your gut
  3. Back it up with data

We are so blessed to live in a country where we have the ability to try, and the opportunities to do, so say yes and just go for it.

Next up, we dove straight into stereotypes in storytelling with Sue Gill and Dan West, and with some shock factor stats like only 21% of women feel represented in ads and 54% of Kiwis view men as being portrayed as employed in ads, I’m sure a lot of us felt inspired to want to change the narrative of gender bias in society.

And the reality is that 76% of Kiwis want to see accuracy in ads - brands who are positively portraying women in their advertising have seen brand sentiment, ROI and sales uplift increase.

We were left to take on a challenge, to be the ones who question the stereotypes, change the narrative and shift the portrayal. Don’t know about you, but I’m taking that challenge on.

If I may deviate for a moment from the rundown of the day, and focus on one of the highlights (besides multiple prize draws and an epic goodie bag!) that I’m sure many of us thoroughly enjoyed (equally as much as the rest of the conference!)

High tea. What a treat!

Scones, sandwiches and sweet treats were delivered to our tables to accompany an afternoon networking session, the room was a buzz with chatter, with many conversations revolving around the previous speaker's content, and an alignment of people feeling empowered to start making those changes and take on that challenge.

Back to the scheduled reporting...The second panel of the day gave us all a great reminder that diversity and inclusion is not just a tick box within your teams/companies. Being inclusive is a huge value-add, bringing people with a range of beliefs and backgrounds together to make the magic happen - involving people from different backgrounds at every stage of the marketing journey, from initial concepts to execution, leads to better understanding, empowerment and ultimately success.

We’ve come to the session of the day that I personally was really looking forward to hearing about, as the content was on something I’m all too acquainted with..

Hands up who is familiar with the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’? *my hand goes flying up* The imposter syndrome is an internal experience of feeling like you don’t belong or don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s anxiety and self-doubt that does not discriminate - age, gender, career stage, it can impact us all at one time or another.

Bel Crawford, founder of The Self-Love Club, shared with us her top tips for overcoming the dreaded imposter syndrome, including the belief and passion in what you’re doing, the realisation that your struggles can become your strengths, the ability to own your vulnerability and look after your wellbeing - a break every now and then not only helps your stress levels, it also enables you to be more productive in the long run.

You know that feeling you can sometimes get at a conference when you know it’s winding down, you’re eager to have a drink and your brain is feeling a little overloaded? Yeah well there was no time for that with the last speaker. What a way to end the day! Carmen Vicelich closed the show with her ‘Power of you’ talk, and honestly, talk. about. female. empowerment. *claps hands*

Carmen shared her story of entrepreneurship, the times she was told no, what she did to overcome that and some kick ass nuggets of gold, leaving us feeling inspired and strong. A few key quotes really stood out and resonated with me, ‘only you know what you know’, ‘remember your why’, ‘think big, think bigger’ and “It’s never a straight line to success” (boy don’t I know that!)

And that’s a wrap!

Women in Marketing 2021 was an afternoon of shared experiences, thought provoking exercises and empowerment - a healthy balance of takeaways to implement at a leadership level, for your own career journey and into your personal life.

To reiterate what I said before, we can all stand to learn a thing or two from one another, so go out there, be fearless, be curious and be creative.

Written by Jess Scott, B2B Lifecycle Marketing Manager, Trade Me