Juggling life as a working mum and Chief Strategy Officer, Rowenna has spent six years working at Joint on big brands including TSB, Vue, Amazon and Reach. Her career spans roles at AMV, BBH, RKCR/Y&R, Lowe and client-side at BSkyB.

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

I’m originally from Cornwall, a very active foodie (but sadly also a very lapsed runner) and a proud Mum of one. I started in advertising on a graduate scheme about 20 years ago and I’m currently the Chief Strategy Officer at an independent creative agency called Joint.

 Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I don’t think I ever planned my whole career, just my next step. And if truth be told it’s more about navigating than planning. So much is about making the most of opportunities as they arise. I honestly believe if you work hard and are passionate about what you’re doing, then good things will fall into place, so it’s best not to stress about a twenty year plan.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

If I was asked that question along the last 20 years of my career I would have said no. However, looking back, I do realise that even though I’m from a solidly middle class background, it wasn’t quite the same as the cultural-norm in London advertising agencies. That, plus having to deal with a fair dose of misogyny, means I had to work that little bit harder to fit in – not all of us can talk about rugby and skiing with the clients!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

In life, my son! In my career, I’d say it was navigating the return from parental leave into my newly promoted leadership role. Both elements demanded a lot of time, emotion and energy but I think both just about got the best of me and continue to do so.

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

Before my return from parental leave, I’d say the major factor in my success has been my attitude. I’ve always wanted to do the very best I could and have worked hard to ensure that was the case.  But, as a working parent, I would say the major factor in my success is my partner, Sam. We divide homelife and the responsibilities that come with that straight down the line and I couldn’t do my job without him.

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

I’ve been lucky enough to have several amazing mentors along the way and their wisdom has been invaluable as has the safe space they’ve provided to have the conversations you wouldn’t dare to have with most colleagues.

At Joint we have a mentoring partnership with Creative Access, which aims to make the creative economy more representative, accessible and inclusive.  It’s something we really believe in and something I really want to get involved with when I have a bit of space between work and getting home for bathtime.

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

Affordable childcare.  Affordable childcare.  Affordable childcare.

A recent PwC report has found Britain has a growing gender pay gap, dropping five places to 14th amongst the 38 OECD countries – so our pace of change is actually in reverse. The report cites the lack of affordable childcare as a key driver of this. The UK has the highest childcare costs vs. average household income, at 30% of income compared to Germany where it’s just 1%.

Larice Steilow, a senior economist at PwC said, “The motherhood penalty is now the most significant driver of the gender pay gap and, in the UK, women are being hit even harder by the rising cost of living and increasing cost of childcare. With this and the gap in free childcare provision between ages one and three, more women are being priced out of work.”

It’s an outrage and I really hope the Government listens to organisations like The Women’s Budget Group and Pregnant then Screwed and levels the playing field at a systemic level.

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

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

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

I’m still under a year in my current role at Joint, so this is very much my challenge for now. As mentioned above, I don’t really look too far into the future, but whatever I’m doing I hope I maintain my current work-life balance; my career is extremely important to me but so is my family.