Julie Sexton is an accomplished professional with a wealth of experience working across multiple sectors and renowned brands. With a proven track record of success and a passion for delivering innovative campaigns, Julie has established herself as a respected leader in the industry.
Julie has worked with industry giants such as PepsiCo, Britvic, BMW Mini, and Bacardi Global Brands, among others. Each experience has allowed Julie to refine her marketing skills and develop a deep understanding of various sectors, enabling her to create tailored strategies that resonate with diverse audiences.
Her expertise spans various mediums, including TV, OOH (out-of-home), commerce, and experiential marketing. Notably, Julie played a pivotal role in creating the highly acclaimed Walkers Sandwich Crisp In vs Crisp Out event, featuring the unforgettable Gemma Collins, the charismatic Fred Sirieix, and the legendary Gary Lineker. By leveraging her expertise in experiential marketing, Julie orchestrated a memorable event that not only entertained but also effectively promoted the Walkers brand.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m currently Client Services Director at Initials CX, a London based marketing agency with a fantastic breadth of clients. Although the agency world has its ups and downs, I absolutely love my job – it’s fast-paced, engaging, interactive, creative and challenging. I’ve always been a social person and enjoy collaborating with people with different skillsets from strategists to creatives to clients.
I’m also a parent to two young kids, who are equally adorable and exhausting, so I appreciate the pressures of the industry and recognise that historically there’s been a problem with keeping senior level females in the agency world. In the past, long office hours with little flexibility has been a consistent issue, but I’m hopeful the new hybrid work model that has been somewhat forced upon the industry will have a long-term, positive impact on this particular challenge.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, but if I’d known this career existed when I was young I might well have done. I actually got offered a role as a trainee accountant and decided that wasn’t for me, jumped ship and the first role that came along afterwards was a very junior marketing role (with a lot of handing out samples involved). I think as a nation we still have a long way to go to expose kids to the huge range of exciting and diverse careers available.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Of course. I don’t think anyone could get to this stage in their career and say they haven’t, but each of those challenges are a learning curve that make you better. Two weeks before I gave birth to my first child, I was working fulltime at my agency and doing a full weekend shoot for my own bag company which was incredibly challenging, but sometimes these opportunities only come around once and you just have to roll with them and see where they take you.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I find it difficult to identify one thing as I think my whole career has been a series of building blocks that got me to where I am today. However, the Walkers crisps event the Initials CX team pulled together under very tight timelines in 2021 was a particularly challenging one. I was not long back from maternity leave, had a relatively new team and a client that was very time poor, but we all pulled together brilliantly to deliver a fantastic event starring Gemma Collins, Fred Sirieix and of course Gary Lineker.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I’d say the two (I know I’m cheating here) most useful personality traits that have got me where I am today are resilience and flexibility. In some ways being too single-minded can be an obstacle. Being open to new opportunities and adapting what success is for you can be motivating and exciting. Resilience, I think is an underrated skillset. The ability to keep driving forward and being tenacious and positive in the face of adversity will always be valued by employers.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I think it can be an incredibly valuable learning and support tool if done in the right way. I have both mentored and been mentored in the past but currently (with two young kids and a busy job) I don’t feel I could commit the time needed to do it right.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for gender equality, what would it be?
To change the parental leave system so that both parents have the time and the ‘permission’ to bond with their children. And when I say permission, I mean that even companies that have some of the better policies for men, get under-utilised by senior level men and therefore don’t get effectively utilised. The negative impact our insufficient parental leave laws and policies have on women is well-documented and wide-ranging. There are many learnings we could take from countries further along the equality journey than us, which would aid this process.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To be more tenacious. It’s what I ask of all my team at Initials now too, and it definitely unlocks more opportunities (both within work and beyond).
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
To enact, endorse and share policies that will help to create a more equal workplace both within my industry and beyond. I’m currently educating myself on the impact of periods and menopause on women in the workplace. My ambition here is to create policies that will work for both my agency and can be shared with other independent agencies that may not have the time, or indeed the awareness to act.
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