Inspirational Woman: Shannon Osborne | Head of Digital, Osaka Labs

Meet Shannon Osborne, Head of Digital at Osaka Labs

Shannon Osborne

Shannon Osborne is Head of Digital at Osaka Labs. Here, she talks to us about her career journey, what it’s like being a woman working in technology and shares advice to other women looking to get into the industry.

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

I’m a 25 year old Digital Director, from South-East London. Growing up in a big family I’m comfortable in chaos, thriving off working multiple jobs at a young age and keeping my mind active by exploring the world of opportunities. I started my advertising journey attending Bournemouth University to study business & marketing. Before choosing a marketing subject focus at university, I completed my year of work placements in a prestigious London PR agency, as well as moving to Barcelona to market for an online production directory. Here is where my digital nomad interest sparked and the opportunity for technical advertising was ignited.

After University I worked in-house for a general marketing role at age 22, being the only one in the department with a freelanced manager, I learnt how to manage myself and others within the organisation to boost marketing activity. However, the technological side of this role was lacking, so in a bid for some change, I left & travelled South America for just over 3 months to better my Spanish and open my mind to what direction I wanted to go in. Coming back I found the job opportunity at Osaka Labs, being the first full time employee I had to learn fast, delve into multiple online courses and followed the guidance of founder Sam Gormely to help grow the Digital Team to a group of 4 in an agency of now 13 people.

Within my current role, I work with some of the biggest UK brands to analyse, implement and improve their digital marketing strategies to compete at the highest standards. I now look to empower & learn from young people to make an influence in the marketing industry and remove any old fashioned ideologies.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did, but then I changed it, and then I changed it again. When I was younger I always wanted to be a lawyer, I can remember a friend’s mum having this job and thinking she was such a strong role model & inspiration. I’ve also wanted to be a songwriter, producer, teacher,  and events planner – in short, I had multiple versions of where my career would go.  All these things I have tried to pursue, but by process of elimination found myself growing as a person but moving away from their direction.

After understanding the technical, emotional and social demands of digital marketing I found it was an area that ticked a number of boxes for me. You can never get bored of evolving technology, when there is an unlimited amount of knowledge you engross yourself in. You have to constantly change with the times, which means that in 5 years from now I will have some altered form of my current role, depending on the direction of technology, and that excites me!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I’d say managing people for the first time, tackling moments of self doubt and feeling the effects of being in a continually fast paced environment. Moving quickly through a range of responsibilities within a startup is exciting, but it means you can’t run from any difficulties that crop up. Startups provide a great environment to push your limits,  you can learn more about yourself and your ability to deal with new situations in short periods of time. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find that you are more capable than you ever expected.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

One of our first big brand clients, Fortnum & Mason, has recently renewed their contract with us as their chosen paid social agency for the 2nd year running from our original pitch. This developing partnership has been a great career milestone for me as one of my key projects whilst at Osaka labs. F&M are a long standing heritage brand that are challenging the long standing protocols of marketing for large corporations using digital techniques, and it’s been amazing working with the talented team to help get those wheels in motion.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

I think the opportunities and trust I have been given at Osaka Labs has allowed me to explore my potential without boundaries. The team continues to grow and I’m always incredibly impressed by the passion and intelligence everyone has. Being surrounded by people who are driven and push you to grow is always a key element to personal & professional development.

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

I have trained & guided my digital team through Osaka Labs, who are incredibly talented, so we learn so much from each other.

But at this stage in my career I have seeked mentorship to gain knowledge and discover new perspectives. Founder Sam Gormely has been a key mentor helping me navigate through brand new experiences both technically through career direction. Other mentors include my brother who has been running his own successful business for over 10 years & so is always ready to provide a wealth of expertise.

I also really look up to Valentina Milanova who is the CEO of Daye, a forward thinking sanitary product business breaking taboos; I would love to get the chance for her to be my mentor!

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

I think there is a challenge in rebuilding the structure and culture of long standing corporations. Male leadership is ingrained within their hierarchies and there is much work to be done to break this.  New emerging companies have the ability to tackle this from the get go & ensure there is equal opportunity.

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

Network! You never know what opportunities lie ahead when you make good connections. And if nothing comes from it you’ve learnt more about life & made a new friend!

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

My next challenge is scaling Osaka Labs & combining all forms of data technology to offer the most robust, exciting & forward thinking advertising services in the industry.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

There are so many ways to teach yourself a new skill online, all it takes is time and dedication. There is nothing you are not smart enough to learn with this mindset.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think there is lots of opportunity but it’s quite male dominated, so you need to be bold & confident in your skills. It’s important to take the lack of women in tech as an underdog situation rather than a source of intimidation.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress careers of women working in technology?

Encouraging apprenticeships and entry level roles to kick start the process. As well as offering equal opportunities for leadership and share of voice within a company

There are currently only 21 percent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Pushing the understanding that tech does not just mean crypto or fintechs but can mean a variety of things that can offer interesting career paths with great earning potentials.