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Women of tomorrow: The winners 2016

This year's inspirational women explain their career paths and their approach to the job, and consider the biggest issues facing women in advertising today

Nicky Russell, head of operations, Anomaly

Russell started her own company at 19. After buying and selling a football club for a £700,000 profit, she began working for Grey, initially for free, in 2010.

Top traits
Straight-talking, energetic, entrepreneurial.
Where you’ve come from – and where you want to end up
I was a teen mum who left school at 16. I would like to inspire a new generation of commercially savvy and determined women.
Proudest moment on the way
Going from an unpaid runner at Grey to head of operations at Anomaly in six years. 
Greatest obstacle overcome
I’ve had rheumatoid arthritis since I was 12. I was told it was unlikely that I would be able to have children and that I would be in a wheelchair by the age of 20. I’ve worked hard to achieve everything that they said I couldn’t do and more.
What matters most in the world
Relationships – with lots of love and laughter.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Too many of us are thinking big and playing small.

Hana Tanimura, senior designer, Google Creative Lab London

The first woman in Google’s creative department, Tanimura rose from a placement to design lead in two years.

Management style
I have high expectations of myself and those around me.
Where you’ve come from
I was invited to join Mother Design while working in an art bookshop after chatting to a creative about a book. 
Proudest moment on the way
When I started managing the Google 5 placement programme, I was one of just two women who had been on it. Now, three of the four people we’ve hired have been talented women. 
Greatest obstacle overcome
Coming out to my family. 
Life beyond the day job
Pro bono work, mentoring, giving talks on the responsible use of design and technology, painting, reading and skateboarding. 
What matters most in the world
Having a sense of purpose that is greater than yourself. For me, that is in making the world a better place. 
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Confidence. It’s not about never having fear. It’s the willingness to try and also to fail.

Debbie Ellison, head of digital, Geometry Global

A mother at 19, Ellison is unusual in being a female head of digital. She champions talent from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Top traits
Passionate, hard-working, strategic, supportive, driven and ambitious.
Proudest moments on the way
Leading teams to deliver multi-award-winning work, recognised for innovation and effectiveness. Raising a child from the age of 19. Inspiring a new generation of young people to consider a role in advertising and digital through the use of partnerships with charities and local initiatives.
Greatest obstacle overcome
Shedding the desire and expectation to be perfect at everything. Wife, mother, head of digital. Passion and drive is what inspires others to come along with you on your journey.
Life beyond the day job
Speaking to young people at secondary schools about my journey. Convincing them they don’t need to come from a particular socio-economic background, gender or ethnicity to achieve their dreams.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Am I earning the same amount as my male counterparts? Is there a glass ceiling and how do I break it?

Beth Hazon, managing director, Drummond Central 

Beginning as an agency PA, Hazon moved to Drummond Central in 2006, rising from account executive to managing director in a decade.

Top traits
Resilient, pragmatic and honest with a laugh you can hear from 50 yards.
Management style
Play fair. Empowering others and encouraging them to trust themselves. 
Proudest moments on the way
When Julie Drummond promoted me she said: "The day I interviewed Beth, I knew she’d run the agency one day, and that day is here." The #DrummondPuddleWatch Periscope stream trending number-two on Twitter. Setting up our office in Madrid.
Greatest obstacle overcome
Myself. To stop criticising and be kind to myself. To make space for a life outside of work and to realise the ridiculous untruths put on women are exactly that. To allow myself to be OK with ambition. To make mistakes and realise they’re not failings.
What matters most in the world
Equality and opportunity.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
It’s critical that women keep talking honestly to each other. Women who talk can affect positive change. 

Karen Boswell, interactive lead, adam & eve/ddb

Boswell began as a designer, taught herself to code and then shifted to strategy.

Top traits
Upbeat, open, honest, collaborative, sharing, passionate, driven and not afraid to speak out.
Greatest obstacle overcome
Moving to Japan with a week’s notice to run a global transformation project for a leading auto company. I was half the age of most of the team, the only woman in a leadership role, Western and didn’t speak Japanese. I learned what leading global change really meant, at scale.
Life beyond the day job
I coach students, run hackathons and workshops, give inspirational talks, sit on panels, judge awards and mentor rising stars across the industry. I’m creating a set of interactive stories for children using tech to enable learning. I help start-ups.
What matters most in the world
Making every moment count.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
The big issue lies with us not speaking up – or encouraging it. We should be shouting from the rooftops. Just say: "Yes, we’ve got this!"

Stacey Stollery, senior people manager, Livity UK

A non-graduate, Stollery is the youngest member of the senior management team at 28.

Top traits
Energetic, driven, supportive, and strategic and solution-focused.
Where you’ve come from – and where you want to end up
I left school at 16 and fell in love with HR and the combination of business and being human. My ambition is to lead HR for a global organisation.
Proudest moments on the way
Implementing a robust well-being programme. Carrying out a study into the link between employee engagement and high performance. Saving more than £100k in recruitment costs in 12 months.
Greatest obstacle overcome
Dealing with a difficult situation that involved complex employment law and strong personalities. 
Life beyond the day job
Volunteering, travelling and taking classes, most recently Mandarin.
What matters most in the world
Happiness. Pursuing it as often as possible, but embracing imperfection.
Most burning issues for women in advertising
Imposter syndrome and lack of confidence.

Victoria Buchanan, creative director, Tribal Worldwide London

Buchanan broke the mould as a woman in digital and in the creative department, and now works to alter the gender ratio in advertising.

Management style
Collective, fair, open, inclusive, experimental, flexible, diplomatic, fun and a risk-taker.
Where you’ve come from 
I have a masters degree in Computing in Art and am a programmer, game coder and storyteller across interactive TV, touch devices and websites. No-one understood what I was. I have worked hard to put data with creative to grow ideas.
Proudest moments on the way
I made interactive TV. Judged the first D&AD digital award. Our digital work changed the way Volkswagen sells cars. We took Monopoly to Google Maps. We changed the way every O2 customer feels.
Greatest obstacles overcome
It took me years to realise I was an expert and I had to find a work/life balance after having children. 
Life beyond the day job
I’m passionate about the lack of women in my role. I’m a Creative Equals ambassador and a SheSays mentor. I have two girls and I fight for them. And I run the parent-teacher association.

Olivia Browne, group business director, 4Creative

Browne joined the Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO board aged 28. Her drive there and now at 4Creative is to use creativity as a force for good.

Top traits
Fearless, determined, passionate about the best creative work, and believes nothing is impossible.
Where you want to end up
To set up an agency that specialises in attitude-shifting campaigns.
Proudest moments on the way
"Meet the superhumans" and the shift that it represented in attitudes to disability. Also, innovative ideas such as the 4NewsWall. But my two sons are by far my proudest achievements.
Greatest obstacle overcome
A fear of failure. 
Life beyond the day job
I’m working on a personal innovation project for 2016. I mentor women going back to work after maternity leave. I try to raise my sons to be respectful and polite, and loyal friends. And I run marathons and half-marathons occasionally.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Low self-esteem. We need to banish doubts about our abilities, express our ambitions, believe in ourselves and face our fears. And go out of our comfort zone, take risks and fail.

Nikki Wilkinson, digital strategy director, Blue 449

Co-founder of the digital advertising women’s network DAWN, Wilkinson strives to empower women and give access to knowledge from leading industry figures.

Top traits
I don’t take myself too seriously. I laugh a lot and believe anything is achievable if you work hard.
Management style
I look to nurture people’s strengths, share, seek the unexpected and champion diversity.
Proudest moments on the way
Selling out DAWN events for six years and making a difference to women in our industry. Winning a Wacl Future Leaders Award and finally passing my driving test.
Greatest obstacle overcome
Still trying to be less critical of myself.
Life beyond the day job
A brand-spanking-new mum to Boo, a co-founder of DAWN, a gym, gig and theatre-goer and generally the friend who always has time for a glass of wine.
What matters most in the world
My family.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
How do you inspire and develop women to fulfil their potential when they are under-represented and if they choose to become a mother?

Sophie Newton, head of innovation, Brainlabs

Since joining in 2013 as a graduate trainee, Newton has risen to lead innovation at what is now the fastest-growing agency in the UK.

Top traits
Energy and enthusiasm, perseverance, focus and logical thinking.
Management style
Leading by example, a flexible approach combining guidance, inspiration and clear direction.
Where you’ve come from – and where you want to end up
From studying maths at Oxford, I went into strategy consulting – but hated it. I sought greater creativity, stimulation and responsibility, and found it at Brainlabs. We’ve gone from three to 50 people since I joined. Our mission is to change the world of digital advertising.
Proudest moment on the way
Creating an environment that champions gender equality, celebrates the introvert and extrovert in equal measure, allows geeks to shine and where people enjoy working.
Life beyond the day job
Art, ballet, music and independent bookshops. Half my family lives in New Zealand. Its culture is an important part of my identity. I’m also a big Arsenal fan.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
The gender pay gap.

Claire Marker, executive director, head of client teams, Manning Gottlieb OMD

Marker runs the biggest team within Manning Gottlieb OMD, now accounting for 40 per cent of the agency’s headcount with 136 people. 

Top traits
Humour, honesty, mischief and care. Excellent client relationships. Not a bad media planner, too.
Management style
Passionate, energetic, thoughtful, positive, humble and empathetic. An optimist.
Proudest moments on the way
Creating our agency mentoring scheme, with 220 people signed up so far. Starting a "what’s happened in my media world" (catchy) initiative for all working mums who return to work here. Won three accounts (£39 million of incremental media billings) without a pitch.
Greatest obstacle overcome
I’m generally the smallest person in the room. But I’ve come to believe in myself and to understand there is not just one style of great leadership.
Life beyond the day job
I bloody love golf.
What matters most in the world
Joy, achievement, balance, learning, friendship and love.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Confidence. Women need to champion themselves – and not be too modest to be championed by others.

Bianca Best, managing partner, iProspect

Best ran her own business before becoming the iProspect managing partner. She is driven to inspire and encourage those around her. 

Top traits
Inspirational, nurturing, authentic, impassioned by "be the best that you can be".
Where you’ve come from – and where you want to end up 
I am on a diverse career path beautifully blended with personal passions. I learn something new every day and am recognising where my leadership style produces the most impact.
Proudest moments on the way
Accelerating faster than anticipated – most recently, being promoted to managing partner at iProspect after only six months. 
Greatest obstacles overcome
Remembering my right to be here; and maintaining optimal health to cope with the unrelenting demands. 
What matters most in the world
For anyone to achieve their optimal "flow", there has to be a blend of life balance. Segmenting life into core facets and having clear goals and priorities enables this.
Most burning issue for women in advertising
Suppressing intimidation and retaining authenticity in the workplace. 

Josefine Hedlund, project director, AnalogFolk

A co-founder of GeekGirlMeetup, the network for women interested in all things tech, which now operates in more than ten countries and hosts an annual conference with more than 200 participants. Hedlund is currently helping build AnalogFolk’s US offering.

Management style
Scandinavian and straight to the point. Pushes the team to take responsibility and inspires them to aim high.
Where you’ve come from – and where you want to end up
I’m a global citizen, having lived in Paris, Los Angeles, London and now New York. The future me will run an agency.
Proudest moment on the way
Listed as one of the 200 Most Influential People in Tech in the UK by TechCityInsider.
Life beyond the day job
As well as GeekGirlMeetup, I started a Run Club at AnalogFolk and am in training for a half-marathon. I love dresses (I currently have 32).
What matters most in the world
I seriously believe, to quote Beyoncé, that girls should run the world. This starts with enabling young girls to know that anything is possible.
Most burning issues for women in advertising
The lack of role models and the fact that women continue to underestimate themselves. 

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