For International Women's Day, we talk to our younger selves

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To mark IWD2019, we asked some of our (largely female) leadership team and managers to share their top tips for success and balance in work, life and more.

Hardie Grant Media

Realising gender balance in all aspects of life is the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) under the theme #BalanceforBetter. This is a sentiment that Hardie Grant Media already aspires to every day, and which is realised in our largely female leadership team and a cohort of up and coming female talent. To mark IWD, we asked some of the leadership team: ‘What advice would you give your younger self?’

Here’s what they had to say:  

Clare Brundle – Deputy Managing Director

Number of years in media / content: 20
Areas of speciality: Editorial and team management
Years at Hardie Grant Media: 6 

"‘Work hard and with passion, and you’ll always be a success’ was the career advice my darling late Dad gave to the teenage me. And I’d repeat that advice to anyone who cares to listen. He explained that many people work hard, and many people have passion, but the combination is not as common as you might think, plus he explained the importance of defining what success means to you personally. For some, it might be all about flying business class or a lofty title, but for me it’s always been about finding personal satisfaction and growth within an industry and company that I love.

The result of this approach has been an amazing 20 years in London, Singapore and Sydney working day in and day out with a huge range of smart, inspiring and creative individuals from all over the world. My pretty lofty title is just an added bonus."

Giselle Griffiths – Publishing Director (Travel & Tourism)

Number of years in media / content: 20
Areas of specialty: Client relations, commercial acumen, product launches and re-launches, marketing and brand positioning
Years at Hardie Grant Media: 4

"Don’t be afraid if a role that you start out in ends up taking you down a different path. You have plenty of time to try different things and learn the lessons that give you the experience and confidence to make the best choices. Ask questions and put yourself out there for tasks that you know little about. This will challenge you in a positive way. 

Be generous with your time offering your help in areas that are outside of your remit – as this will only give you greater diversity of experience.

Most of all be kind and gracious to everyone, as this will take you far. One of the lessons I learnt early on in my career was treat others how you wish to be treated, with respect and kindness."

Fiona Hardie – Chair Hardie Grant Media; Director Hardie Grant

Number of years in media / content: 35 
Areas of specialty: Custom publishing

"Throw yourself into your work. Ask questions, look around you, strive to learn, work hard (be attentive, focus), the more you put in, the more you’ll get out. But separate your home life as much as possible (this was easier in the past). When you’re at home/in your personal life – be there, be in the moment, don’t be distracted by work or what’s next, loosen up, relax, explore the different dimensions of life outside of work.

Learn tools to help establish and maintain equilibrium in your life. Keep fit. Eat well. Learn how to manage stress. Change up the pattern of your life. Take holidays, and when it comes up, take your long-service leave. Take natural breaks as they arise (e.g. take time off when you have a baby, or if you move interstate or overseas, if you get sick, or if you need time to study).

And not necessarily a note to my younger self, but general advice for your working life:
  • Be ethical. Do the right thing – always.
  • Be respectful. Put yourself in the shoes of others – colleagues, clients – and act accordingly.
  • Be confident. Remind yourself of your strengths and see where they can take you. Put yourself forward for things.
  • Take your time. There’s no rush. Keep moving forward in the right direction and things will open up.
  • You can do it all. There’s no one way to do it. You can do it all – in your own way."

Sophie Hull – Head of Editorial, Sydney 

Number of years in media / content: 12
Areas of speciality: Words, balancing client needs and audience wants, and coming up with creative concepts
Years at Hardie Grant Media: 5

"Persistence pays off. The hardest part of this job is breaking into it, as I found at the start of my career and when I moved overseas and then back to Australia. It took a lot of time and hard work to get some of the jobs I did, and more than once I wondered if I should retrain in something easier. But since I’ve been in media I’ve worked on really diverse, interesting projects from art apps and health podcasts through to glossy travel magazines. 

In the year after I graduated I did several work experience placements and got a lot out of them. If there was one thing I could change, I would do them while still at uni rather than afterwards to give myself a better kickstart. And I would have joined media groups and networked my heart out. Lots of people are nicer and more supportive than I would have thought."

Courtney Nicholls – Publishing Manager 

Number of years in media / content: 12 
Areas of speciality: Books 
Years at Hardie Grant Media:

"Make sure you feel supported and that you’re constantly learning – the value of a strong mentor who challenges and inspires you cannot be overstated. Learn new things every day from those around you and use that knowledge to grow and improve. Ask questions and challenge the answers you receive – and don’t be scared to ask for help.  

Over the course of your career you’ll face a lot of challenges and you’ll make mistakes – but rather than letting a mistake define you, try to judge yourself instead on the positive way that you responded to the crisis and resolved it. Maybe most importantly, be prepared to work hard because it really does pay off."

Tiff Sayers – Business Director

Number of years in media / content: 8
Areas of speciality: Relationship management and commercial
Years at Hardie Grant Media: 2

"You’re going to meet people in your career who will become lifelong friends, and on the flip side of that, you’ll meet people who really challenge you. But remember to treat them all the same and don’t burn bridges along the way. Be nice to everyone and always be yourself, even when you don’t fit in, because if you put people first, great things will follow."

Kate Thompson – Strategy Director

Number of years in media / content: 15 (give or take)
Areas of speciality: Marketing, strategy and planning
Years at Hardie Grant Media: Nearly 3.5 

"As a society, we are more conscious about the concept of imposter syndrome today than we ever have been, and we know what to do to manage these feelings. I would encourage my younger self to ‘embrace the fear and back yourself’. While I’ve had an enjoyable career, I did shy away from opportunities because I was afraid of the unknown… and a perceived lack of stability: I also didn’t fancy myself as an ‘expert’. It’s only recently I’ve come to accept that no one is, and you don’t need to be either. You just have to be curious and keep showing up."

Madeleine Wilson –Director,

Number of years in media / content: 11
Areas of speciality: PR and events
Years at Hardie Grant Media: 1

"I have been fortunate enough to have had a career (so far) that I have really enjoyed; however, there have been a lot of lessons learned (sometimes the hard way), along the journey and this is what I would tell the 17-year-old me:
  1. Push yourself – Join the university groups and clubs that will help you build real-life skills for your career. Volunteer to write a column in your university paper, work at events for free to gain the hands-on experience needed, intern as much as possible and make the most of that ‘free’ time. 
  2. Network – Something I have never been very good at but perhaps if I’d started practicing this skill when I was much younger, I would be better at it now. Learn how to put yourself in sometimes uncomfortable circumstances and do it as often as possible so that meeting and connecting with new people is a breeze. Not only will this potentially open many doors, it will help you build valuable interpersonal skills that you will be able to lean on throughout your career.
  3. Never stop learning – Don’t ever think you’ve got a handle on something; research, challenge and digest as much as you can. Being educated and open to other ways of thinking is essential to career success.
  4. Take risks – Don’t waste your life doing something you don’t enjoy or aren’t passionate about. This might be as small as putting forward an idea that seems impossible or it could be as monumental as a complete career change. Go for what you want, or you’ll regret it later. 
  5. Don’t sweat the small stuff – It’s not always going to be sunshine and roses. People won’t like you, you’ll make mistakes, clients will leave and there’ll be days when it all seems too hard. Work on your resilience and build it like a muscle and try not to take things personally."

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