Inspirational Woman: Olivia Hanlon | Founder, Girls in Marketing

Meet Olivia Hanlon

Founder, Girls in Marketing
24-year old Olivia Hanlon is Founder of Girls in Marketing and boasts a following of more than 250K across multiple social media platforms. Her aim is to empower and educate women throughout their marketing career.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Hi! I’m Olivia, a 24 year-old marketer and business founder from Liverpool. I founded Girls in Marketing as a community initiative in summer of 2019 whilst working full-time in an SEO role. I wanted to meet like-minded women in the industry so I created Girls in Marketing as a way to do just that!

Since freelancing during my time at university and working full-time after graduating, I found it difficult to network with others in a casual and fun way – as black tie events and champagne flutes aren’t really my thing at all!

In May 2020, I left my full-time SEO job and took on a few new freelance SEO clients to give me the time to concentrate on building a successful business strategy to grow and scale Girls in Marketing. I’m so proud to say that Girls in Marketing has now become a 6-figure thriving female-led start-up.

What does Girls in Marketing hope to offer and achieve?

We want to empower, support and guide women in the marketing industry. Through up-to-date resources, community events and programmes we’re quickly creating a digital marketing revolution.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Definitely not! I’ve always wanted to own a business but I didn’t ever plan it, especially not at such a young age. When I was in University I discovered my love for marketing and released that is what I wanted to do, but that’s as far as my planning has ever gone.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I think one of the main challenges has been believing in myself, and my ability to build a successful career/business. As a woman, I find I’m very self-critical and often find I’m held back by my own thoughts. There haven’t been any physical challenges I could name, but an ongoing battle with believing in my own ability is definitely something I’d highlight.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I’ve had so many incredible experiences and pinch-me moments since starting Girls in Marketing so it’s really difficult to pick just one! I’d probably have to say that the experience that has stood out most to me so far was when we delivered our first-ever in-person event in Manchester in partnership with Adobe Express. We spent months planning and dreaming of the day and when it came around, it was beyond our wildest expectations! When I started Girls in Marketing, I wanted to do small meet-ups and doing an event for nearly 100 women in the industry really blew my mind.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Passion for what I do, and determination to make things happen. We’ve done many projects in the past that haven’t worked out how we thought they would, we’d learn from these projects and make sure to improve whenever we planned anything else going forward. As a person, I’m very switched-on and just love to get my hands dirty with projects and strategies.

How quickly did you grow your team, and what is it like to be female-founded amongst a team of brilliant women?

Since August 2020 we have grown to a team of 4 incredible women! Team growth isn’t a huge priority for us as we’re mainly focused on community impact over anything else.

It’s amazing to be a part of something with such a passionate and driven female team, working on building something special and that’s not something that everyone can say in business.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I think that mentoring is an amazing way to gain experience in marketing, or any industry for that matter, and can be an incredibly worthwhile experience for both mentors and mentees.

I’ve not personally been involved in a formal mentoring programme but I have definitely worked with a lot of inspirational people throughout my career so far who have been the equivalent of mentors to me, providing invaluable support and guidance.

We also ran a mentoring programme through Girls in Marketing in 2021 where we paired mentees with mentors in the marketing industry. The experience was really empowering for everyone involved and we received incredible feedback from both the mentors and the mentees who benefited a lot from it.

One of the main reasons that I’m an advocate of mentoring is that it’s an accessible way for people to gain support. There are so many amazing people working in the marketing industry with so much valuable advice and experience to share. It’s really inspiring when people give up their time to share their learnings and wisdom with others.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

This is such a great question! A personal focus of mine and something that I think would make a huge difference to the pace at which we move towards achieving Gender Equality is removing the existing barriers for women getting into leadership roles. Women need to feel more empowered to challenge the gender stereotypes that they face by understanding, and therefore being able to speak up for, their own worth in male-dominated industries.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

I’d say to remember that it gets better. There will be times in life when you will struggle but the highs will be so much better than any lows you experience. Keep your head held high and keep pushing forward.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is continuing to grow the Girls in Marketing team. I’m hoping to scale our lovely team sustainably, and only make hires when I know is best. I’m hoping to achieve greatness through community impact and by driving positive change.

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