Women in Marketing CIC was invited to share their journey during the diversity and inclusion series for Hull University. The conversation between Dr Haseeb A Shabbir, Hull University and Maria Andrews, Director, Women in Marketing CIC live recording took place on Thursday 22 April (at 13.00). It provided an opportunity to tell the story of the incredible women from numerous cultures and countries around the world on how marketing excellences and the empowerment of women is shared and celebrated. WIM is there to create an unique and diverse community of women championing women. See the link for the full interview at the end of this article.
In addition, to complement the discussion held between Maria Andrews and Dr Shabbir Ade Onilude, Founder & CEO of Women in Marketing CIC spoke with Dr. Haseeb Shabbir, Faculty of Business, Law and Politics, University of Hull to provide further insights into the Women in Marketing journey.
Dr. Shabbir: Ade, I wanted to personal thank you for agreeing to let Maria Andrews talk to us, it was a really interesting talk. I wanted to ask you though directly – what nudged you into action to create this social enterprise in the first place which has become a transformational movement now?
AO: Thank you for the opportunity to help us share the story of women disruptors in marketing. Let me rewind back to 2004 when I was an active member of the Greater London Region of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. I felt the sector did not celebrate the power, innovation and creativity of women marketers near enough as to what was clearly evident in the ground. It was for this reason I proposed to the Greater London Regional Board of the CIM to formally celebrate International Women’s Day and from here the very first Women in Marketing event was created. My vision was to create a space for primarily, although not exclusively, for senior women from across the marketing and communications sectors to showcase, highlight and educate the rest of us. The celebration of women in marketing, in essence, was a response to the status quo male dominated nature of the sector, especially at board and senior leadership levels. In our first year in 2004, we attracted 175 attendees and it soon became a flagship annual event for the Greater London Region. The event went from strength to strength and in 2010, I consolidated the event into the first Women in Marketing Awards ceremony and haven’t really looked back but I forever remain grateful to the CIM for that initial support I received. It was during the 2010 awards ceremony, which also gave a platform for NGOs and nor for profits, social enterprises to exchange and speak to leading commercial marketers, where we also invited and celebrated women in NGO and in not for profit marketing that I first met Maria too, who of course is currently the Chair of CIM’s Charity and Social Marketing Group .
Dr. Shabbir: In 2016 you shifted to formally becoming a community interest company, why was that? What was the logic behind this?
AO: Well, we really wanted the community to be at the heart of what we were about and the feedback we were fast gaining was that the Awards Ceremony was very much a communal celebration of women in marketing. I used to receive emails from women marketers on how they felt inspired that finally top women marketing “voices” could be heard and celebrated and before I knew it a community of 20,000 had emerged from our twitter account and from our newsletter. The community aspect therefore represented a new beginning for us and a wider recognition that women marketers are “also” an “important” community, which deserve their own dedicated “space” and “voice”. As Maria discusses in her interview with you, this community soon became global. Our supporters therefore come from all corners of the global family we inhabit and this adds to our vision that we are about unifying the women in marketing spirit as crossing mature economies and emerging economies. Since those early days, we have evolved from being a UK centric space to a global space for expressing women marketing champions, hoping to inspire the future generation of women marketers. Women marketers, for me adopt a more holistic approach to practising marketing and this is why the inter-sectionalities of race, gender and age for instance are so important to get right within the marketing landscape. We have some way to go, as you rightly discussed with Maria, indeed a along way to go, but we remain hopeful that with time, the voices of women marketers will become increasingly appreciated globally.
Dr. Haseeb Shabbir: Who have been your mentors along this journey Ade?
AO: Haseeb, I guess there are too many names to mention here, I have so much support from global champions in marketing such as Heide Gardner, VP of DEI at the IPG group, who really enjoyed being interviewed by you I must add too! The legendary Global CMO Antonio Lucio, is another personal highlight for me, and his video we have shared below for your readers. I’m indebted, of course to Twitter too, who featured me in their global campaign, alongside the iconic Ava Duverney, Director of Selma. I’ll share the link below but the whole idea behind Twitter’s #Hereweare campaign was to raise the voices of women and I felt privileged to be a part of this.
Dr. Haseeb Shabbir: During the pandemic, the pressures on women as boundary spanning workers globally has been immense. What is your advice for them?
AO: My advice would be for the mainstream sectors to celebrate their roles, to celebrate their resilience, creativity and innovation. Still, too often the global voices on subjects such as resilience, creativity and innovation are male dominated or Western centric. For me, women marketers globally represent the best examples of resilience, creativity and innovation. This is why we celebrate dynamic women marketing disrupters so that others can be inspired by their work and some of these were discussed in your interview: Alice Yu Yuebo (Singapore), Patricia Weiss(Brazil) and Carolina Pinherio Co-Founder & CEO Inbrax(Chile). I asked them to send me a brief note on the impact of receiving an award from us on their careers.
Alice Yu Yuebo from Singapore, won the Winner Award to One to Watch in 2019 and this is what she has to say:
“The WiM award is actually the first industrial and global award I have received in marketing field and I was really flattered to stand among other outstanding women marketing leaders around the world”
Patrícia Weiss from Brazil, also serves on our Global Advisory Council now and was the 2017 Winner for Branded Entertainment, she is the Chairwoman for Branded Content Marketing Association – BCMA South America and Portugal notes:
“Because of the constant exchange of knowledge with incredible people from different cultures and backgrounds who are part of the WIM community, and the significant reflections we make together, I find myself more motivated and empowered to not give up on my dreams and to cause changes in my territory of operation. WIM is inclusion and pure diversity. It’s empowerment and transformation”
Carolina Pinheiro, the Co-founder and CEO of Inbrax Chile won our Best Leader in Marketing Agency award in 2018 and notes:
“Having had the honor of winning the WIM – Agency Side in 2018 was clearly a watershed in my career and it impacted me in 2 great ways. The first of them was to leave behind the impostor syndrome that is a shadow for many professionals and executive women, and I am no exception; winning this award meant me to believe more in myself, to value myself. On the other hand, the award put me in the spotlight, I began to have more visibility, and my opinion took on another weight in the industry”
Dr. Shabbir: Any final words of advice for young aspiring women marketers?
AO: Believe in yourself, and don’t give into the imposter syndrome that Carolina mentions as we, like many sectors, are in a space where leadership positions are occupied by men and tend to still be Western centric and yet we are better disruptors, equally if not more equipped for creativity and innovation and of course the resilience of women globally is all too evident. Celebrate women globally from emerging economies and not just from the “mature” economies. Never give up and believe that anything is possible. Read about women champions in your fields and feel inspired, learn how they did it, and never believe that you cannot. Look at cases like Eleanor Miller, another one of our award winners and the Director of Marketing for Mental Health First Aid England and learn how and what she had to go through to deliver 64,000 mental health training sessions during the pandemic. Or Mischon de Reya, LLP – our 2019 WIM Company of the Year, who incorporated the essence of the WIM Inclusion Charter with their commitment to diversity inclusion championing the development of their female talent and acting as a benchmark in the legal sector.
The stories behind female marketers are to inspire everyone, men and women.
Hope everyone enjoys and learns something from Maria’s interview with you, even its one thing that takes them forward in the journey to celebrate female marketers.
Acknowledgements & Thanks
Agnisha Gosh from Integrated Marketing Lead Asia 3M, Singapore; Alessandra Di Lorenzo CEO of Forward, Last Minute Media Company, UK and Kate Knightingale from Style Psychology Ltd, UK.