I'm grateful for Mentors, Sponsors & Allyship
Updated: Sep 14
As you listen to our podcast you’ll quickly gather that I'm hugely passionate about all things marketing, the people, the knowledge, the pursuit of mastery. I'm driven by a desire to raise the bar in the industry.
Yet, as I reflect on my career to date, It's clear that my experiences and successes are a product of the many people who provided an invaluable helping hand, shared their insights with me, and whose mentorship and sponsorship I remain eternally grateful for.
So here goes - my opportunity to give "shout outs" right now to people that are role models for allyship in my marketing career journey (listen to the People Powered Marketing Bonus AfterCast™ episode here https://www.marketingtransformed.com/episode63)
Passion, Counsel, and Sponsorship
Firstly, THANK YOU to professor Hugh Phillips who fueled my passion, and helped channel my potential at DeMontfort University. He helped me grow from being a very average marketing student (due to mediocre effort on my part). His counsel, wisdom, and ability to challenge my thinking were essential to my undergraduate dissertation in my final year. Ultimately my stepped-up efforts helped me gain a first-class degree classification. But, without him, I wouldn't have been aware of the scholarship opportunity for a Master's in Marketing at Ulster University in Northern Ireland. Add to this - it was his sponsorship, encouragement, and reference that helped me land a place, at a time when there was no way financially I could have afforded it or been able to borrow the money to attend.
Yet I gained so much more than an educational experience, It was truly an eye-opening and grounding personal experience as well. Because this happened during the mid-1990s when major social and political changes were happening in Northern Ireland. Being black in Northern Ireland at the time was just an interesting experience. Despite the tensions between the Catholic and the Protestant communities. I was welcomed by all sides of the community and I made friends with everyone. So right now, living in the USA combined with my lived experiences in Northern Ireland shape how I see how race and diversity, and inclusion, and the challenges faced here. Whereas over there, it's more based on religion because essentially everyone was white and the conflict was between two white communities.
A Seat at the Table and Pay Equity
Secondly, THANK YOU to Atilla Cansun (Chief Marketing Officer, No7 Beauty Company at Walgreens Boots Alliance). Attila was a masterful marketing leader that was willing to teach, motivate and hold the highest of standards and expectations. Simply put, he would keep it real and you knew you had to be on your “A” game at all times. He was purposeful at being inclusive and would ensure that I had a seat at the table for key meetings, major projects and was a vociferous champion and sponsor. He used his power to fight for me and my initiatives and used his voice to speak up and speak out for what was right.
So, there's one moment which lives with me today, I was marketing manager at Braun Europe HQ (In Frankfurt Germany), and he called me into his office after a couple of weeks and said to me, “Hey, by the way, your pay is significantly less than your peers.
(Important note - We know there's a gap, supported by data and evidence that shows for example, in the US salaries can differ significantly where your equivalent earning would be 87 cents if you're black versus a dollar for a white man. And if you're in similar positions, it can be 98 cents versus a full dollar versus a white guy, if you're in similar roles)
Atilla simply said, "Hey, you're paid half" and he showed me the numbers and I was thinking 'how the hell?' But he said, “Look, if you work hard and deliver, I'm going to bump you up to be parity because it's the right thing to do.” And low and behold, four months later, he did what he said, and my salary doubled and I'm thinking, 'wow, who does that for someone? Hence, to YOU - reading this right here right now, ask yourself - who's doing that for you? And who's doing that to address an imbalance in the system, company, or industry you are in? For me, that was just such a strong and powerful memory of how to use your power and walk the walk in allyship for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Hence, when I'm faced with difficult, uncomfortable, or career-limiting situations, these memories help me to remain steadfast as an ally. In recent times this has meant: declining a conference speaking role unless my request for a female panelist was met, calling out negative stereotypes in advertising to the CMO, and quitting a board when favoritism and lack of transparency undermined diversity and inclusion best practices.
Empathy & DEI advocacy
Thirdly, THANK YOU to Bracken Darrell (Logitech CEO) who clearly led with empathy when I worked for during my time at Braun, and is vocally using his platform + rallying resources for inclusion, diversity, equity, and is actively engaged in “anti-racist” efforts, such as his recent Linked In post: “a call to CEOs and leaders. It's time to go all-in talking about the challenges, especially in the US, about the racial issues that we're facing and how to better be role models for good and doing the right thing and championing inclusion and representation”.
P.S. Another ally I’ll shout out is Chip Berg, CEO of Levi Strauss, who’s also been very vocal on social cause issues. Both Chip and Bracken, are white male CEOs role modeling and really communicating in a credible way to the majority of other CEOs with the hope they equally step up.
Allyship Resources - here are a few we recommend:
Report from the ISBA in partnership with Flock Associates about how to better be more inclusive and representative.
A repository of DEI related articles and reports from McKinsey
Also, Big thanks for all the work you do to build an inclusive Marcomms industry to Amanda Fone Founder of F1 Recruitment & Adrian Walcott Managing Director of Brands with Values. Together they are Co-Founders of BAME2020. Check out their People Powered Marketing Interview episode here:https://www.marketingtransformed.com/episode62
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