Success strategies for Women leaders in Telecoms, Media and Tech: How to rise to the top

The gender divide in career progression must end and end now, explains Sue Unerman, Chief Transformation Officer at MediaCom. ‘There needs to be a change in approach both from business leaders and from people on the way up in their careers. Businesses need to do more, much more, but also there are a series of steps that women can take to drive their own progression.’

With more women than ever in the workforce, but still too few in the boardroom, it feels as if it’s the right time to address the assumptions and miscommunication holding women back.

‘Talent is being wasted. It’s a cultural and a structural issue. Every woman is entitled to achieve her full potential at work and, at the same time, a good work/life balance.
From unlocking ambition and developing resilience to nurturing creativity and getting noticed, these are the skills that everyone needs to learn to help break down the glass wall and create better workplaces for all.’

Unerman, who has spent over three decades building her career in media, will be discussing these themes with Kathryn Jacob, CEO of Pearl & Dean in their keynote speech, ‘Breaking through the Glass Wall - How to ensure your career doesn't stall simply because you're a woman’ at Women in TMT 2019 (November 26, London). The event, in its second year, looks to highlight the increasing presence of women leading strategy within the telecom, media and technology industries and providing the tools and support to help women achieve their potential.

Unerman and Jacob first worked together when writing their book, The Glass Wall: Success strategies for women at work’ as they felt so strongly about the obstacles women continued to face in the workplace. Their positions at a media agency and the other as a media owner, gives the duo the advantage of seeing the business environment from different viewpoints. They also represent opposite sides in terms of extroversion and introversion.

‘Within organisations, there needs to be well thought out and sustained programme that helps diverse talent to succeed – having a few informal networks that you don’t empower won’t crack it,’ stated Jacob. ‘From the board and throughout the company you need sustained commitment to creating a culture that will thrive.’

The philosophy at MediaCom “People First, Better Results” ie putting people at the heart of the business and in turn, achieving better results together. Since 1990, the business has grown from a £44m turnover to billing £1.7bn in the UK (£13.5bn) making it UK’s largest media agency.

‘Growing our people is at the heart of our development programmes for everyone. We aim to provide an inclusive environment to support gender diversity and we are determined to make this the reality now and for the future,’ said Unerman.

In the nineties I was lucky to work with Jan Smith, the CMO and my client. The thing that she did that was different to everyone else was to rip up the rule book. I learnt the benefit of “not starting from here” which gave me to freedom to influence change.

Jacob agrees that strength of character and confidence will support professional growth. ‘It’s important to know your value and be flexible – and remember that you’re not in indentured service to any one company and you need to find a place to thrive.’

‘It can be disheartening to look upwards and not see anyone like you in the senior management team. Our advice is not to allow that to hold you back – you deserve the role that you have and it’s essential that you understand the culture of your organisation and how you can play your part.’

Unerman concluded, ‘Sharing experiences is really important. There’s strength and wisdom in this, particularly at a safe forum like Women in TMT 2019. I’d like to say to everyone, don’t be a bystander, don’t let inequity pass. If we all do this, then things will change.’

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