Renee Mellow featured

Inspirational woman: Renee Mellow | Head of Emerging Digital Activation, EMEA, Mediacom

 

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t in my 20s, but I wish I had! I now make time regularly to plan and prioritize my career goals.

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

In the past, I spent too much time and energy on the wrong things. The distractions can be endless – cleaning out your inbox, overthinking what meetings you are or aren’t invited to, office talk at the pub. What a waste of time! Don’t let others set your agenda; you’ll end up being reactive to others instead of what truly has impact.

Others may quote CEOs or visionaries, but I love the mantra of supermodel and party girl extraordinaire Kate Moss who said ‘don’t complain, don’t explain.’ This is a brilliant position to take in the workplace. It means staying positive, getting on with the work, and standing behind your actions without feeling the need to justify your decisions. Your work should speak for itself.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move into a leadership position for the first time?

Set a goal, focus and be confident that you are more than capable and deserving.

I realized this when I became a parent, which may sound counterintuitive. I had one of the most pivotal moments in my career when I came back from my first maternity leave. I was determined to be effective, have impact, AND leave on time to see my little ones. My career propelled exponentially and I transferred to MediaCom’s HQ, leading a team to +80% YOY growth and soon managing a department of 100. My stress level dropped as well; when you arrive at the office and have already faced two tantrums and a nappy change before 9am, you feel pretty confident that you can manage the rest of the day with ease!

So focus your time and energy, ensure you are working towards your goal every day and that a leadership role with satisfy you. Be direct and upfront with your boss. Make it known what you want, build the case for why you deserve it and craft a plan together.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I am firm believer in trusting your gut when it comes to building your team. If you have an inkling that the candidate may not fit the culture or working style, trust your instinct. Hiring the wrong person is worse than having the role sit vacant a little longer until you find a good fit.

How do you manage your own boss?

I try to be accountable, independent, proactive, and come to her with solutions to problems.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I am an early bird, so make time every morning to do the work that matters – projects or tasks that require focused thinking. Then, I start my day knowing I’ve already accomplished something.

I end my day reading with my children. It’s quite telling that most of our favourite books involve children exploring imaginary worlds, or underpants.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

For women, it’s essential. An easy way to start is to focus on the topics you are most informed about. Write something for LinkedIn. See if your internal communications team can use the materials. Quickly say ‘yes’ to PR opportunities and prep three quotable quotes or statistics so journalists know you are reliable. Look for industry events and panels to participate in.

By picking a topic that is relevant to your role, you will refine your thinking and simultaneously build recognition.

Make a pledge to yourself not to overthink it – no one cares as much or is as harsh a critic as you are. Have fun and get better as you go along.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

If the definition of confidence is turning thoughts to action, coaches and mentors fuel my confidence and I become accountable for ‘doing’ something with my thoughts and ideas.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker

Yes, yes, yes – women need to make a plan to create a establish a network. A good place to start is internally within the company you know best.

  • Push yourself to establish relationships with senior men in your organization
  • Make the most out of this time by preparing 3-5 questions, and truly listen
  • Pay it forward and make time for other females rising in your organization
What does the future hold for you?

I am proud to be a part of London’s first Ad Tech Inclusion conference, which I hope will be a catalyst in the advertising and media industry for a discussion about the importance of diversity as technology is created. As we head beyond algorithms and into AI, it’s essential the foundations of these solutions are built for everyone, without any unconscious bias.