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Pioneering Women in Marketing - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForChange

Pioneering Women in Marketing - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForChange

If there’s one thing that 2017 has taught the world so far, it’s that girl power isn’t dead.

This week, the fight for equality continues as International Women’s Day kicks off around the globe. The day will highlight the range of economic, political and social achievements made by women, as well as opening up the discussion on how we can forge a more inclusive world for the next generation.

The campaign theme for this year is #BeBoldForChange. The message is to give women the confidence to push for a more inclusive, gender equal world and workplace -  something we feel very passionately about here at Pixel8.

We’re celebrating smashing gender boundaries and want to shine a light on women we admire and work with. Meet Liz, Nabillah and Nicola, these women are in the trenches every day, pushing their industries forward and paving the way for future generations.

Join us in celebrating this extraordinary set of female role models in various industries and stages of their career,  and let’s be inspired to #BeBoldForChange.


Liz Penney, Marketing Manager at The Hollywood Bowl Group.


‘Pioneering Women in Marketing'  - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForAChange - Liz Penney, Hollywood Bowl


Tell us about how you got to where you are in your career today?

Simple - by loving what I do. I feel very fortunate to have found both a discipline and an industry that I enjoy working in. By listening to the advice of some great leaders I’ve been lucky enough to work with throughout my career and by getting Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) qualifications under my belt – they’re the holy grail for marketers. When sifting CVs I’ll always prioritise someone who has a CIM qual. And no they don’t pay me to say that!  

What have been the biggest challenges? Biggest successes?

Biggest challenge – working for five years in an industry that wasn’t leisure – no regrets though - I worked with some amazing people, I learnt so much and it’s got me to where I am today.
Biggest successes – winning awards for each role I’ve held – who doesn’t like to win an award?!

What advice would you give to women wanting to break into the world of marketing and advertising?

Get a CIM qualification, find an industry that you’re passionate about and always trust your instincts!

Tell us about the boldest decision that you've made in your career to date?

To remain a broad marketer rather than specialise in digital, which is the trendy part of marketing, is easier to measure and at that time was paying very lucratively!
I always knew that I loved marketing because I like shaping and influencing a business to be successful by meeting customer needs, and I believe you need the broad skills to be able to do this.

Any hot tips for marketing trends to watch out for in 2017?

I’m a big believer in monitoring and measuring campaigns to ensure ROAS whilst testing new media to ensure we’re always moving forward and remaining relevant; even more important in the ever changing economic climate.
Personalisation is key, as is amplification, although ‘mobile first’ isn’t a particularly new strategy it’s important to remember!


Nabillah Akhtar, Media and Communications Officer at GB Taekwondo.


‘Pioneering Women in Marketing'  - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForAChange - Nabillah Akhtar. GB Taekwondo


Tell us about how you got to where you are in your career today?

I always knew I wanted to work within the media industry and originally planned to go into fashion journalism. At the age of 18, I moved to study just that at Sheffield Hallam, but it quickly became clear that it wasn’t the right career option for me.
Eager to still pursue something in media, after graduation, I volunteered at the London 2012 Olympic Games in a ‘Games Maker’ role.  Afterwards, I moved back to my hometown in Manchester and realised that this city was a hotbed for sport - there are 4 national sports centres in Manchester! In between looking for an opportunity in sport communications,  I worked for a luxury fashion brand as a PR Assistant as well as feature writing for La Vida Magazine. I then spotted the opportunity at GB Taekwondo and thought I had nothing to lose, so I applied. Fast forward two years – and it’s been one of the best choices I have made.

What have been the biggest challenges? Biggest successes?

I think the biggest challenge for me has been discovering who I am - my likes and dislikes within a professional capacity. I thought I had my life mapped out from a young age, but it turned out it wasn’t the best plan for me.
I believe that my biggest success is yet to come, I’m still growing and like to hope that there’s still plenty more amazing opportunities destined for me.

What advice would you give to women wanting to break into the world of marketing and advertising?

I would tell them to not pigeonhole themselves. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want in your career, but don’t be afraid to branch out a little too. At 21, I would never have guessed volunteering at London 2012 would help me get to where I am today.
I would also say to stay focused and be passionate about whatever it is that you want to do, as it isn’t easy getting into a career within the creative industries.

Tell us about the boldest decision that you've made in your career to date?

I would say leaving what I thought was my dream job (at the time) in fashion to pursue something I virtually knew nothing about… my parents thought I was crazy!

Any hot tips for marketing trends to watch out for in 2017?

Live streaming has been awesome! Taekwondo is a niche sport that isn’t broadcast as often as we’d like, in the UK, so we’ve really jumped at the chance to stream our athletes in action abroad. I think moving forward, creating short and concise content is key for millennials – they are used to consuming information in snippets so we’ve adapted to this by creating short videos/GIFs in order to keep our younger viewer’s attention for the perfect amount of time.


Nicola Boon, Client Services Director at Pixel8 Ltd.


‘Pioneering Women in Marketing'  - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForAChange - Client Services Director, Pixel8 Ltd


Tell us about how you got to where you are in your career today?

I always knew I wanted to work in advertising from a very young age and so worked hard to get the right A-level results to be offered a place on the leading Advertising and Marketing BA at Lancaster Uni. The degree (along with a LOT of applications/interviews and general graft) was a springboard for me to gain a place on McCann Manchester’s Graduate Recruitment scheme. This solid start in my career has given me not only fantastic grounding, discipline and experience within the industry but an amazing network of contacts which have facilitated choice through the next stages of my career.

What have been the biggest challenges? Biggest successes?

Adapting to whatever life throws at you is key for marketers, particularly in the world of agency. You have to rise to any challenge and find a way to not only survive but succeed. The variety is what makes the job so interesting, no-one should be in the industry if they want to remain in their comfort zone or do the same thing every day.

The biggest challenges I’ve ever faced personally include moving to a new department (digital) after the first few years of my agency career with no training, support, handover or grace period and being thrown in the deep end managing one of the agency’s biggest clients alongside my existing client roster. That was a particularly steep learning curve but one that in hindsight I’m thankful for as I would have probably never made the move and gained that invaluable experience otherwise.

My biggest success to date professionally was probably taking over the American Airlines EMEA digital account and implementing a new dynamic solution to their fare sale campaigns. The move saved both us and the client a lot of time and money on communication amendments and also strengthened our relationship with the client to the effect that they became one of the agencies healthiest accounts. The solution was subsequently also implemented across the US so it was great that we led the way.

What advice would you give to women wanting to make a stamp in the world of marketing and advertising?

Always aim to work alongside people smarter than you and learn from them. If you’re not being stimulated or feel like you’re progressing you need to move on.  There’s often no one right answer, you will attack a brand challenge in many ways before you start to get traction, that's not failure, it’s progress. Never accept defeat and always keep moving forward. Working longer doesn’t always equal working smarter. Don't worry about how others perceive you, worry about the difference you make to the business. Never be afraid to challenge, pick your moment, and do it with intelligence, conviction and grace, great leaders love to be challenged (in the right way). Always champion the customer and never lose sight of the customer viewpoint, it’s the most valuable asset you bring to the boardroom table.

Tell us about the boldest decision that you've made in your career to date?

Going part-time after my first child was, looking back, very bold. The agency I was at couldn’t offer me the hours I wanted and so I left with no job to go to. A scary prospect but I just knew I couldn’t commit to full time so I made a leap instead of compromising and it paid off. As it happens I had a new job offer at The Co-Operative within weeks which was absolutely perfect for me at the time. This subsequently led to my next role at Shop Direct. I think it pays to know what you want and what you’re worth. It’s hard to respect someone who doubts their own capability, and taking or staying in a role that you’re not committed to benefits no one. Steve Jobs once said ‘connect the dots’. You can’t do that looking forward, only looking back, so you have to stay curious, take the opportunities, trust the journey and always follow your instincts!

Any hot tips for marketing trends to watch out for in 2017?

There’s a lot of talk in the industry about ‘going back to basics’. There’s more channels, tactics & formats available to marketers than ever before. Choosing where to focus your energy is born from a comprehensive understanding of your customer, your market and your brand challenge/proposition; old school marketing disciplines. Also in a fragmented media landscape brand becomes vital. I’m often amazed at how some of the largest organisations neglect their brand health (and in fact don’t even measure it). I also think the digital industry will grow up a bit this year, marketeers need to focus ultimately on campaign ROI and step away from over inflated self reported metrics provided by many digital platforms. Finally, ‘interactive content’ is a new buzzword being bandied about. Brand interaction is not new, but the platforms available to facilitate this are more exciting, so watch this space!

‘Pioneering Women in Marketing'  - International Women’s Day 2017 #BeBoldForAChange - Graphic

Have we inspired you to #BeBoldForChange? Share your thoughts with us on our social channels, we're on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat (on pixel8ltd). Peace out, sistas!


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