While I go through my ‘’profile’’ as a female in the industry, I realize I sometimes still have those waves of the ever-nagging imposter syndrome that so many of us have.
That’s okay, because that nagging feeling, while our worst critic, is human and also what keeps us challenging ourselves (a healthy dose of course). In those moments you get to be introspective and reflect upon what has allowed you, as well as so many other women, to get to where we are today in a thrilling city of opportunities and networks, while also recognizing the obstacles women still have to overcome.
The vast majority of my career has been spent in four major hubs—Chicago, London, Singapore and New York City—working for some of the largest global media agencies in the world. Today, I work at an independent, fast-growing advertising agency that is transforming people’s work and producing outstanding results for our customers.
Thanks to my involvement in some of our industry’s most exciting pitches, from global luxury brands to consumer goods, I have had the pleasure of working with incredibly diverse, multicultural teams across the European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian Pacific regions. The whole time, I was advancing in leadership roles and learning the most valuable skill anyone in our industry can have: how to balance a profit and loss statement. I’m kidding, but to be fair, there’s a;sp some truth to that statement. The most important skill, of course, is how to make your team a high-performing, profitable asset to the company and its clients.
And with gratitude, I have worked with some fantastic leaders, some of whom I continue to admire and stay in touch with after 15 years in the industry, each of whom believed in this midwestern gal and the dream she had to roam the world. My profile (as I have been told) is meaningful, and the brilliant experiences I’ve had have shaped me into something I’m immensely proud of, and I hope that continues to lead to more opportunities in the years to come.
The way I see it, that ‘’profile’’ is an outcome of your experiences, your choices and the opportunities presented to you and any other budding female professional inspired to take on the corporate world globally. With that in mind, here are a few of my sage principles that I have consistently leaned into as a compass, and which I feel can work for junior and senior executives alike:
Want to learn… to learn
Be curious and open—through observation, putting in the time, speaking up, being wrong, being right, or having an idea. You won’t know what works and what doesn’t until you’re challenged and are okay with being challenged. And if you’ve been challenged and your mind has changed, you’ve learned something.
There is always someone better
Unfortunately, that’s the truth in some capacity. Identify someone that challenges your thinking, and understand what makes them strong in what they do—ideally someone who isn’t in your immediate team or line manager.
There are different strengths and skills that each individual brings with them based on their experiences. Make a point to identify controversial people in your life—it might humble you and also inspire you.
Don’t fake it until you make it
For a while, I didn’t identify as a “female leader.” I just led. And while that still rings true, there were times I found myself trying to ‘’fit the mold.’’ There came a point when I realized my female experiences are what drives me. Compassionate, candid, process-driven, organized, detailed, human, open to change, flawed and humbled. Lean into who you are authentically and consider how that shows up at work, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Take those traits, find out what drives you, and use them to make a positive impact and provide value to your work and your team.
Communicate, collaborate, influence, and amplify
When working with teams—whether international or siloed, culturally diverse or generally diverse in thinking—communicating and collaborating on ideas is what’s always needed, no matter the organization.
Influencing and amplifying requires taking that to the next level. Whether it’s influencing cross-organizational stakeholders on an idea or project or consciously amplifying lesser-heard voices on the team doing the valuable or un-noticed work (as statistics show….)—find someone that will help you influence and amplify your voice.
Explore the jungle gym
Lastly, taking a bite out of Sheryl Sandberg’s playbook, careers are no longer just about climbing the ladder but exploring the jungle gym. There are opportunities to go up, across, take a break, move positions, focus on family and friends, and back up again.
Opportunities exist in our digitally connected world and traditional, outdated systems are being questioned. So if you haven’t figured out if you want the CEO title yet, it’s okay. Keep exploring.
About the author
With more than 12 years in global roles, Rachelle Hansen strikes a strong balance of digital and performance media roots to holistic media and marcomms leadership, partnering with clients to deliver on their ambitions. Hansen’s career has spanned several major global hubs in the US, London, and Singapore. Her track record has surpassed revenue goals, balancing PNLs, regional and global strategy, building strong relationships, and leading high-performance teams.
Hansen’s mindset and values are rooted in compassion, candor, and a strong sense of responsibility. She has a strong knack for delivering and operationalizing the bigger picture and organizational success.
People who know her, they know she is focused on sponsorship in women, thankfully because she had similar role models and support throughout her career, which motivated her to pay it forward. Hansen believes that when people come together to learn, to fail, to have humility, to let go of their ego, will do great things together.