Inspirational Woman: Sinead Bunting | VP Marketing Europe, Monster

Sinead Bunting is the VP of Marketing for Monster in Europe, the global jobs website.

She is responsible for all marketing in Europe, specialising in digital marketing and brand transformation.

Sinead is passionate about encouraging diversity in business which has resulted in a number of initiatives that champion groups, who need an extra helping hand in their career. This has included nationwide ‘Monster Confidence’ tours, working with Stemettes to help female school children and uni students feel confident to achieve in their STEM careers and realise their potential.

She is the author and co-founder of the Tech Talent Charter, an industry-wide collective, whose aim is to deliver a more diverse tech workforce. The charter is supported by the UK government and currently has over 170 signatories such as Monster, Cisco, Vodafone, HP and Global Radio, all working together to move the dial in this critical area.

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

I grew up in Belfast, having arrived in London in 2000 from a year-long stint in New York at my first proper job. My plan was to stay a year, save some money to go to Australia and live and travel for a bit. But save money in London? On an entry-level salary? And being the less than frugal person that I am……tsk, what was I thinking? Needless to say, here I am 17 years later, having never made it down under. But it’s all good, I absolutely love London and think it’s one of the best cities on earth.

I’m the VP of marketing Europe for Monster, the jobs and careers advice website (which happens to be the website on which I found my first job in London in the year 2000).

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I studied law and fancied myself as a human rights lawyer helping folks overcome the injustices they encountered in this world. Unfortunately I didn’t quite fancy putting in the required amount of study to ever make that a reality. Winning a scholarship to study business in an American college for a year only compounded my predilection for hanging out in the student union rather than the law library!

It was here that I did an internship in marketing at the Pittsburgh Civic arena (home to ice hockey team the Pittsburgh Penguins!) and caught the bug for all things creative and marketing. Before graduating from my final year in Law I was lucky enough to secure an NYC marketing job and then my first job in London in 2000 was in digital marketing at an advertising agency. Back then the internet was seen by most clients as a fad that would fade away, and so my raison d’etre was passionately convincing folks internally and externally, that this Internet malarkey was the future and was here to stay. I guess being Irish I like a cause.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve encountered a few dinosaurs in my time but also have been blessed with working with some amazingly supportive and progressive men and women. I recall a male CEO at one of the advertising agencies I worked for hosting an anonymous Q&A for staff circa 2003 to ask whatever they wanted. We were asked to write a question on a piece of paper and deposit it at the front of the gathered group and he would unwrap each one and answer candidly.

As we sat there a few of my colleagues (females) were saying, ‘we should ask him why there’s no women on the management team!’ None had the confidence to go up to the front and submit a question for fear of being identified, even under the auspices of supposed anonymity. I thought sod it, l’ll do it, it’s a bloody good question that deserves an answer! So off I trotted to front to deposit my piece of paper with the question on it. We waited patiently in the audience for him to unwrap the question. Eventually he read it out and the first thing he did was to look straight at me in the audience and demand pointedly ‘did you write this question’ (so much for anonymity!). I shrugged my shoulders and pleaded ignorance. His answer to the question was he promoted people purely on merit and there had been no women who made the grade.

After the stress and worry of realising I had marked my card in his eyes, by challenging the status quo, I digested what he said and realised what a load of utter tosh! I knew lots of women in that agency who were great and his was just the boys club in action.

Countering that was a year or so later the agency M.D., Phil, taking the time to mentor me each week and giving me the confidence and tools to believe in my own abilities. To him I will be eternally grateful.

I have found that women tend to be overlooked and have to work twice as hard to get ahead. I do believe there is a tendency for men get promoted on potential (and confidence) whist women tend to get promoted only on evidence. However, I love the quote by the comedian Steve Martin “Be so good they can’t ignore you”. With lots of hard work, tenacity, a sense of humour and support of amazing colleagues and of course a bit of luck, I’ve managed to overcome any issues and challenges I have faced.

How would you encourage women and girls into a career in STEM?

For young girls, have the confidence in your abilities to study STEM subjects, don’t rule yourself out and listen to the myth that we are all destined to remain in the arts and languages arena. As part of our Monster Confidence programme which we created with Stemettes, we have visited various cities across the UK & Ireland for the last two years, encouraging young female students to have the confidence to study STEM and believe in themselves and know that their voice matters. We have had some amazing STEM female speakers and role models join us (including of course Dr Anne Marie Amafidon, CEO & Founder of Stemettes) who have been the inspiration that the girls need to see. If they can do, then the girls can do it too.

For women, know that you have so much to offer employers and organisations. Your skills and talent bring a way of working that makes organisations have you across all levels (including senior level of course) much more commercially successful. You deliver the competitive edge and diversity of ideas and approach that makes companies successful. Never forget that and have the confidence to know that you will and you do make amazing things happen.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

So many things, but if I were to choose one that would really move the dial, perhaps it would be for shared parental leave to be fully embraced by organisations so that both genders get a fair crack at the whip in the workplace and at home being a parent.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It would be the Tech Talent Charter, which I wrote and brought to life in collaboration with a number of amazing inspirational women in the world of tech. Women like Amali de Alwis, Debbie Forster and Susan Bowen. It’s funny, for many years I had heard of this Queen Bee phenomenon, yet when I reached out to all these women in the world of tech to help do something to address the lack of females in the tech workforce and later to launch the Tech Talent Charter, every single women I spoke to, bent over backwards to help and to make it happen. It was incredible and showed me what women (and of course, the much needed supportive men) could achieve working together. As a collective, the Tech Talent Charter has secured the support of the UK government and over 170 organisations such as Monster, Cisco, Codego Peer1, HP and Global Radio but we have a long way to go still, but I’m confident we’ll make it happen and effect real change, especially with Debbie Forster at the helm as our CEO.

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

I’d like to widen our Monster Confidence programme to women in business/work and to help to tackle specifically the issue of unequal pay. Money is the currency of power and until we have equal pay, women will not be on an equal footing and it will be incredibly challenging for the genders to achieve true equality.

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