After spending 11 years grafting within MediaCom, and arguably becoming part of the agency’s furniture, Holly made the bold decision to move to the world of independent agency. She currently is a Senior Account Director on the senior leadership team at Brazil Street.
In this role, she prides herself on being expert in her clients’ businesses, immersing herself completely to fully understand the key challenges. She also works with other senior leaders in the business to drive new business, agency grow and team development.
After such a big career change, Holly is here to share her lessons, recommendations and what she found useful when she made that big decision.
What are the two or three biggest lessons you’ve learnt over your career?
I kick started my media career over 11 years ago, which has given me some of the greatest highs and the greatest lows in equal measures! My biggest piece of advice for anyone entering into the media world is to throw yourself into it with two feet – fully absorb & take in all that is on offer to you in terms of the vast amount of learning available. There are so many various sources for you to really get your teeth into & I would use this to explore what you’re truly interested in and what really drives you.
The media world is so diverse and broad and covers so many areas, so there really is so much choice to go after. Once you’ve explored everything, find your niche & go for it, become that expert, that champion, the one that people go to for that specific bit of guidance & expertise. There is of course the added bonus of it being a very social setting too, so take full advantage of that side too!
All that said – I think the biggest lesson I learnt and again one for everyone in the media game, is to really get that work-life balance right. It’s the easiest thing to say and the hardest thing to actually achieve.
It takes a conscious effort to strike that balance and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s knowing when to stop, knowing when to take a step back and realise that we aren’t saving lives. Is it worth reading your emails at 11pm at night and getting stressed over something that realistically you can’t tackle until the next morning? No, it really isn’t. Come to work and do the best you can possibly do, being the best you – but leave it at the desk when you clock off, and spend that precious time with loved ones whole heartedly!
I love my job & I love media, but over the years I’ve realised that it doesn’t have to consume me – that it’s ok if it’s not in the top 3 priorities of my life. That doesn’t mean I care any less about it or that I don’t want to do a good job, it just means I have a healthy work life balance and it makes me enjoy each element of my life to the fullest. Don’t get me wrong, occasionally I do still have to fight the urge not to get stressed or just pop onto my emails over a weekend to check – but you have to make that conscious effort to stop yourself!
Another huge lesson I learnt from an old boss who didn’t do this (what not to do!), but is something I’m very mindful of and ensure I give to my team – is consistent feedback. Note, not criticism, but feedback. We are so quick to give ‘constructive criticism’ yet I would argue who’s it constructive for?! This immediately comes with a very negative connotation and you’re already setting out stall…instead, give feedback and talk about the good, just as much as the not so good.
It is so important people feel valued – that’s a big reason I recently left my job I had for 11 years, as I didn’t quite feel that value – so ensure you’re talking to people and give them that longed for boost, as well as speaking openly & honestly about what things could be a little better too.
What helped you through the process of making this big change?
As I touched on above, I recently left my job of 11 years – a place where I was very comfortable & happy for many years of that. However, when one of my closest working companions told me they were leaving, it made me take a step back and really evaluate where I was in my career and if I wanted to be there in another 11 years.
Things change – and change is good – but I felt for me personally, the masses amount of change that I had experienced, both from a professional point of view as well as a personal, was no longer working for me. Reasons for leaving were ten-fold in the end, but I pride myself on my loyalty and I was considered a ‘lifer’ by both myself & others, so this was a move I never expected I would be making.
At first, I thought a whole career change was in order, as I couldn’t possibly work elsewhere in the media world other than where I was! But I took the time to speak to a number of different people, who knew me from a professional capacity first and foremost, but also personally. I quickly realised that I wasn’t in fact done with the media world & that I had simply become blinkered by what was in front of me.
By allowing myself the luxury of time to have these conversations and really taking everything on board, listening to different people’s point of view, it allowed me to remain completely open. It meant I didn’t discount anything at all & explored a number of ‘informal chats’ with potential employers. I could then really start whittling them down & looking at the full picture, deciding what it was I actually wanted. Thankfully, it landed me with an incredible opportunity at an independent agency – something I said I would never do – but my goodness, what a move it was and how eye opening & refreshing it’s been.
Having self-belief and confidence in yourself is essential – as I think you can become a little institutionalised staying in one place for so long, that it can cause you to second guess yourself, feeling like you haven’t got a lot to offer. But again, having those conversations with a range of people re-established that I am good at my job and in actual fact brought a lot to the table to offer other employers. Don’t sell yourself short – to quote L’Oreal; BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT!!