Welcome back to #PassItOn, a series featuring the best career advice and insight from women of the Futures Network, an alumni group of Wacl Future Leaders Award winners. In this instalment, we hear from Laura Vipond, group new business director at Karmarama and co-founder of the Futures Network, who was mentored by Dame Cilla Snowball, former group chairman and chief executive of Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO. Vipond shares her advice on finding your tribe and prioritising personal development.
Find your tribe
"Network" is a cringe word but it’s your secret weapon. For women, it’s important to nurture and invest in your tribe.
We founded the Futures Network so we could all come together and share our personal and career experiences more widely. It’s so important for women to get ahead by leaning on each other. We’re all each other’s cheerleaders, and support and inspire each other. Through the Wacl mentoring programme, that has given us the opportunity to connect with women at the top of their game and get that career- and confidence-boosting advice. But we should look horizontally as well. The peers you meet on the way up will stay with you as we all move up in our careers.
I used to go to so many events and talks, and I’d listen and have a glass of wine and then head home without speaking to anyone. So I made a rule to myself years ago to not leave an event without talking to somebody. Just say hello to one person. For people who don’t have the benefit of being part of the Futures Network or a big organisation like Wacl, it just takes those small bits of effort.
Everybody's in exactly the same boat when you're sitting at events – no-one knows each other. So little human gestures to acknowledge each other go a long way.
Take control of your own development
I was so lucky to be paired with Cilla as a longtime industry new-business titan. We chatted about being good at spotting growth opportunities for your agency and clients, but it’s so much harder to spot them in your own personal development. Women especially are really good at keeping their head down and getting the work done, but it’s important to take the time to look at yourself and think about where your own growth opportunities are.
You hit a level in your career where you're not told what to do. People expect you to take charge of your own learning and development. It won’t be handed to you, so you have to go out proactively and find the things that make you happy and challenge you. A mentor can help you find where your blindspots are and put things in perspective.
Cilla says to make sure you’re always happy and challenged in your role. I could see the industry was shifting a lot, so I upskilled and did courses in coding, data, tech and leadership skills. You need to go out and figure out how to make your role more valuable to the business – what’s going to help you become future fit for the next 10 years?
A lot of the younger generation coming into the industry also seem to be moving jobs to get a promotion and tend to only stay in roles for a couple of years. I think it’s sad because you don’t always need to leave to develop. Find ways to be challenged and supported within your own organisation.