Rachel Barnes: why we're celebrating innovative women and human robots
A view from Rachel Barnes

Rachel Barnes: why we're celebrating innovative women and human robots

It has been quite a year of firsts for us: we unveiled our inaugural Marketing New Thinking Awards last month and I'm delighted to say that we are partnering Sky Media for the initiative. In this issue we also feature an interview with Bina48. She is an artificial-intelligence robot that has been modelled on a real person - Bina Rothblatt - both physically and mentally, using the "real" Bina's thoughts and feelings. "It's really hard being a robot in a world full of humans," Bina48 laments. Definitely a first for Marketing.

And you may remember, we announced in March that we were launching Digital Mavericks, a project to seek out the most innovative women in digital marketing, focusing on those pioneers at the crucial mid-point in their careers. The latter criterion was key, because we didn’t want this to be just another list. With Digital Mavericks, we wanted specifically to draw attention to that career mid-point at which so many women in the tech sector (56%, according to US data) leave the industry for various reasons.

So I’m proud to introduce you to 11 remarkable women, an eclectic group which we describe as "inspiring, down-to-earth and ego-free".

These women all have something in common – they have determined what personal success looks like to them. Their advice is invaluable not only to women and men starting out, but also to any of us looking up, down and across the hierarchy: it’s about empowerment, belief in yourself, respect for others and making your dreams reality. They may seem rose-tinted, but these are not bad guidelines by which to lead your life.

Several of their comments relate to "having a voice". "Don’t be afraid to speak up," advises Microsoft Research’s Haiyan Zhang. "It is important to remember what you have to say is valid." Havas Media’s Amy Kean says she has noted a depressing tendency: "We see women speaking too quickly during a meeting because they are so used to being interrupted. This is why empowerment is so important."

Jayne Hardy, founder of a depression-support network, has an incredible story and one comment, in particular, struck a chord with me: "Don’t spend years thinking about what you really want to do; start taking small steps every day. You can’t be afraid to try."

I’d like to thank Monster, our partner for Digital Mavericks, which shared our ambition to shine a spotlight on women in digital marketing, our awe-inspiring charity partner Women for Women International, and, of course, our judges, BBH’s Mel Exon, Unruly’s Sarah Wood and Bloom’s Charlie Hunt, who helped us make the near-impossible decisions as to who would be named a Digital Maverick. All agreed that each of our shortlisted 20 women were worthy of inclusion. Not only are these women impressive, but they are also now giving their own time to mentor women starting out in their careers. As Indiegogo’s Anastasia Emmanuel remarks: "Being nice is underrated. People do pay it forward and they will open their networks to you if you are generous."


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