IWD: “Diversity and gender balance are the key to problem solving and to better business” – in conversation with Lisa Lavender
4th March 2019
Lisa Lavender has been synonymous with Adstream and the Traffic Bureau for many years, but it wasn’t always going to be that way. “I wanted to be a flight attendant, but then a creative director came to school to talk to us about advertising…I was hooked. I subscribed to Campaign and when I left school started applying for every role in the back of the magazine,” she says.
“I applied for one role that I had zero qualifications for at a small agency saying I know I need experience, but how do I get the experience if no one is willing to give me any?”, a question many young people still find themselves asking today.
Enabling opportunities and providing experience to allow people, especially women, to build a career and thrive within it is important to Lisa. “I have always empowered my teams to be confident in their abilities to run the business effectively. Since starting the Traffic Bureau over 20 years ago, I’ve known that it is important to delegate in order to let people grow and develop in their careers.” By giving others opportunity to lead, it allowed Lisa to move into broader roles at Adstream and continue to grow her own experience.
Her early determination to land a role in the industry has set her in good stead over her 30+ year career. As a woman in advertising technology, the outgoing UK CEO of Adstream and Managing Director of the Traffic Bureau has seen it all – from starting her career in a traditional “boys club” advertising company, to Adstream now, a company which she credits with having an excellent gender balance, with almost an even split among staff.
“The benefits women bring to the table is enormous. Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, I know it’s cliched, but it’s true – women and men will always provide different views, bring different attributes, skills and opinions to the table. That’s good. Diversity and gender balance are the key to problem solving and to better business,” she says.
With this in mind, she thinks that women should be open towards roles that they see as male dominated professions. “With the big push to get girls studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects at school, we will see a shift. It’s great to see these kinds of subjects, fields of work and industries being embraced by more and more women.”
And it’s an interesting industry to be in. AdTech, as Lisa notes, is an excellent mix between the technology side and the creative side of the advertising industry. As an industry that is rapidly changing, it’s fast-paced and constantly evolving, and provides a number of opportunities for applications of STEM subjects. “I never imagined I would ever be sitting here and talking about application of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the context of our industry and business,” she laughs. (for more on this, see our eBook here).
As an advocate for women and providing opportunities to empower them, Lisa has recently signed on to be a mentor with Rise. A not-for-profit, advocate group for gender diversity within the broadcast manufacturing and services sector, Rise delivers a programme of support for female broadcast tech professionals via networking events, seminars and a mentoring scheme. In addition to this, Adstream is looking forward to commencing a partnership with Rise, where we as a business will support them with their events throughout the year.
Not only does Lisa think the future of AdTech is exciting, but the future for women gets brighter by the day. The balance we are all working towards is building a better working world, one that will allow business and communities to thrive. “The more women who come up the ranks, the more women there will be to inspire the next generation – and that’s what we need more of in business.”
#BalanceforBetter is the theme of International Women’s Day 2019. You can read more about the theme here.