CompanyIndustryInsights

Ad Women: Yvette Henderson

9th March 2018
Yvette

In our ongoing celebration of women in the advertising industry, we recently spoke to Yvette Henderson, Head of Operations at Innocean Worldwide Australia. Yvette has been in the agency business for most of her career, with a slight diversion at Adstream (more about that later). Having witnessed all types of shifts in the business, she’s been able to make a career in advertising all the more appealing.

As Yvette puts it, she came from the “shop floor” – meaning she started in a typical entry-level position. The hours were long, the workload enormous and expectations were high. She took a chance and moved into a project management role, knowing little about it. However, she found that she had strong organizational skills and she had an ability to motivate others to ‘get the job done’. This led to roles with increased responsibility.

Acknowledging that a few things that have helped her along the way, Yvette says she is thankful for her mentors. Mentors who provided her with sage advice and helped her to feel less isolated, during those times when she was so focused on the job she thought she was the only one feeling the pressure. As a result, she makes herself available to mentor others, who now seek her out. She remains mindful that she was a part of an agency that recognized talent and promoted people accordingly.

As she moved through her career, there was a detour out of the agency life into Adstream for several years. Even as her agency colleagues tolled the death knell of her agency career, Yvette worked hard in client facing roles that honed her relationship management skills.  Rather than killing her career, this diversion served to enhance her skills and reinforce what she wanted for her career – she wanted the energy and pace of an agency back. Upon her return to the agency business, with new skills in hand, she began to balance the practical, financial and resourcing demands of her operations role.

Part of her drive comes from her tenacity in her pursuit of her goals. One of them being; to treat all women equally. Since her career advancement was based on merit, so should the careers of others, she thought. She has seen and lived the challenge of work/life balance in agencies that demanded 24×7 availability. She has also seen agencies modify those expectations, but only after women left agencies in droves to seek better balance in client-side marketing roles.

When asked what suggestions she had for employers in today’s ad industry on what is needed to help women, or men, advance in their careers, here is what she said:

  • Treat everyone with respect – whether that is respect for individual, family situation, gender, or ethnicity.
  • Be flexible – time and place are irrelevant. If a working mother needs to get the kids off to school, let them do that. They will be more focused once they are on the job. With all the technology tools available today, it is possible to connect and collaborate from disparate geographic locations.
  • Encourage mentoring. This is a two way street. Individuals should seek out mentors and those in leadership positions should make time to mentor others. This does not need be a formalized process, but can be as simple as quiet conversations about any topic.

Yvette’s advice to others pursuing their careers? “Don’t pretend to be what you are not. Think about the kind of person you want to be.”

 

 

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