Moving on up in 2019: Three leading business women from the creative industries explain how to get to the top

As we approach the New Year, many of us are thinking about progressing our careers.

But how do we become leaders and stay true to who we are? Three high-profile business women share their top tips.

Nicole Griffin, Ragged EdgeNicole Griffin, Strategy Director, branding agency Ragged Edge

The best piece of advice I can give someone looking to move up is this: believe in yourself, but first push yourself.

Do the job you want to be doing next, and then ask for the job. It shows ambition and creativity and gives you a way to develop your capabilities. So, when you do move up, you fly.

Have social courage. Have the ‘at-first-awkward’ conversations with the higher-ups so they know you and are invested in your success, too.

Change your mind. Have the confidence to believe what you think is worth sharing. But really listen when others are voicing their thoughts too. One, that means working with their ideas. Two, it will push you to rethink and refine your own thoughts.

Frame your worth. Make sure you know, believe and can articulate the value you bring to the business – commercially and culturally.

Know when it’s time to move on. Particularly if it’s from your first job. Don’t let yourself get pigeon-holed or stuck somewhere because it’s a good place to work. Sometimes you have to move onwards to go upwards.

Emily Fox, Lewis MoberlyEmily Fox, Creative Director, brand design consultancy Lewis Moberly

Find your mentor. Someone who inspires and encourages you and whose work and working methods you love and admire. Interrogate and observe, learn from their years of experience, their challenges and their triumphs.

Don’t keep working on an idea when deep down you know that it’s not right. It’s easy to fall in love with an idea, not so easy to let go of it –but you’ve got be able move on and move up.

Give yourself time and space to think. Make a coffee, take a walk, look at things with fresh eyes and park a concept for another day if you need to. Often, it’s the idea you come up with as you’re walking out of the door or on the bus that’s the winner.

Be approachable but business-like, interested and interesting. You can show your personality while also proving your dedication and ability to succeed in your industry.

Finally – enjoy the game! It’s not enough to just produce fabulous work and appropriate solutions. The concept needs to be sold to the client and made to work.

Rowena Curlewis, DenominationRowena Curlewis, CEO, drinks design specialist Denomination

Be true to yourself. Don’t try to be male, and don’t try to be an alpha woman if you’re not. Leaders don’t have to be either: you can be funny, kind or quirky, and still be an effective leader as long as you are confident in yourself and your abilities – and demonstrate leadership qualities.

Be heard. There is a general reluctance among women to not speak loudly or confidently enough, or to persuasively argue their point. It’s important that your colleagues, industry peers and clients see that you’re prepared to speak up for your ideas, and for others too.

Lead by example. If you want to be a leader, you need to act, think and behave like one. Work hard and excel in your role in a way that will ensure you’re recognised by your team leaders.

Think big. Don’t just focus on what a particular project means to you, but think about what it means for the agency, the client, the consumerand the industry. Be proactive in identifying and taking on opportunities; embrace responsibility.

Surround yourself with other successful professional women, if not in your work environment, then outside of it. Mentoring and networking organisations provide countless opportunities to hear from high achievers, to learn of their mistakes, their failures, their growth, their strategies and the tools they use that may help you move forward.

Today, we still face gender pay gaps and lack numbers in leadership positions. But it does feel to me as though 2019 is our time. Bring it on!

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