Executive women gain tips on building their professional profile

November 11, 2014 by  
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Susan Redden Makatoa, our very own Group Managing Director – Corporate at Ogilvy Public Relations, was Executive Women Australia’s latest Masterclass speaker, sharing her tips on a critically important issue for women – raising our professional profile.

Drawing from her own experiences, which includes over 20 years working in corporate communication, change and advocacy roles, Susan assured the audience that everyone has a story to tell.

Urging women to stop being selfish and by reminding them they have a responsibility to share their experiences and knowledge, Susan provided her tips on how to do this.

Her three rules of thumb to those that want to build their professional story in a credible way are:

1. Get amongst it –  grow your circle through channels such as Twitter, conferences, professional groups, LinkedIn, NFP boards and alumni committees.

2. Be generous – help others out without expecting anything in return; and

3. Make yourself useful – make sure your story is authentic, delivered in a way that makes sense to others (no corporate bingo), and is meaningful and useful to your audience.

A mother of four young children, Susan is not immune to the time pressures facing many women. She handles this by what she calls ‘sweating the assets – making her content work across multiple channels. So, if she writes an article for an industry newsletter, you can be sure she’s also shared it via her social media channels to expand her credibility and reach.

Given the notes being taken during Susan’s presentation, we expect to be hearing more professional stories from women soon.

Arli Miller – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy PR

Microsoft boss urges executive women to disrupt the status quo

October 20, 2014 by  
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All eyes were on one of Australia’s most successful executives and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality, Pip Marlow – Managing Director of Microsoft Australia – at Executive Women Australia’s latest Masterclass.

Drawing on her own experiences, Pip delivered a lively, interactive and often candid presentation that included insights on gender equality in the workplace. From the onset, her message was clear that each of us has a role in disrupting the status quo and help female executives achieve their full potential.

She began by acknowledging progress has been made over the years, including legislated maternity leave, women in government and examples of mentoring programs, organisations embracing diversity principles and targets.

However, she continued, Australia’s pace for change is slow – a sentiment and frustration shared by many in the room.

Across the economy women are still underrepresented. Labour force participation by women in Australia has slipped to 52nd globally. Only 10.1 per cent of key executives in ASX200 companies are female. Women still earn less than men – $238.20 less per week and the gender pay gap is actually increasing.

Her opinion for the slow pace of change is threefold. Firstly, an unconscious bias exists in the workforce, in which incorrect assumptions made about women are accepted rather than questioned. Secondly, everyone needs to be accountable for diversity – not just the leadership. Lastly, the majority of workplaces still weight achieving the bottom line as its most critical target, not achieving diversity.

So what can we do?

Pip’s advice is that we all have a responsibility and a role to disrupt the status quo – change will not happen if we sit around.

Gender equality and diversity targets need to be part of daily workplace conversation – we need to speak up in conversations about business targets, results, performance and promotions. We need to hold people accountable.

We can’t leave this fight to others. Every day, in work places across the country, there are opportunities to advance the conversation, to start building.

Pip finished her presentation with a point that is often forgotten and a strong applause from the audience – women’s issues don’t just concern women. They are issues for us all.

EWA Chair and Ogilvy PR Group Managing Director, Corporate – Susan Redden Makatoa thanked Pip for her generosity to help further the careers of executive women and expressed our company’s pride in working with Microsoft.

Arli Miller, Director – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy Public Relations

Don’t get stuck in your chair

September 4, 2014 by  
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Megan Caulfield, Senior Strategist Ogilvy Impact

Keeping people glued attentively to their seats was not a hard ask for The Hon Helen Coonan at last week’s Executive Women Australia Masterclass session. But for the former Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, women need to avoid languishing in what she terms the “sticky chair”.

In discussing ‘How to know when you’re executive ready’, Helen stressed not to wait until you feel confident and equipped for a role.

“Be recognised for the right reasons,” she said. “Don’t hang back. Put your hand up for the tougher gigs and you’ll be the obvious choice for jobs down the track.”

In reflecting back on her career it’s clear Helen definitely didn’t wait for opportunities to come to her. She turned down a partnership in a top legal firm taking a “sideways” step by start her own legal business. When taking on the Wentworth pre-selection battle in 1995 she proved she didn’t step away from a challenge. Even though she did not win it was clear her skills and presence were noticed. The year after she was elected to the Federal Senate.

So what are the key attributes she sees as essential for women moving to the C-suite?

Leading from the front, inspiring people to come on the journey and being able to authentically communicate the direction were identified as key qualities that will help women move up the ranks.

But the key message she wanted women to remember was that different times call for different leadership skills and there’s a need to continually develop and adapt once reaching the top. “That’s what will give you the x-factor … the ability to adapt to complex demands.”

However, she stressed you can never entirely be in control. Juggling the work life balance act is an “extreme sport” and for Helen she is a big believer that you can have it all but not necessarily at the same time.

“You need to look for organisations that carve a space for family commitments both for men and women,” she said. “You need to embrace who you are and the lifecycle you are at. And it’s important to remember there are always opportunities further down the track.”

Now enjoying director and advisory roles for organisations including Crown, the Snowy Hydro and JP Morgan, Helen could never be accused of getting stuck. She has had three diverse career paths and passionately believes she has a responsibility to not kick the ladder out from behind.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who created a pathway for others,” she said.

Looking at the audience writing down her tips, there’s no doubt she’s inspired others to keep moving forward.


Women in media teach us a confidence trick or two

August 4, 2014 by  
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‘Intimate’, ‘honest’ and ‘real’ are all good ways to describe last Wednesday night’s discussion on ‘The Confidence Trick’ – the MEAA’s latest networking event in Sydney for #womeninmedia.

There were few in the audience who weren’t nodding in agreement when Angela Priestly, founding editor of Women’s Agenda and author of Women Who Seize the Moment, confessed to having suffered imposter syndrome. This is the inability to recognise your own competence while feeling – despite all evidence to the contrary – like a fraud. Priestly said she spent years waiting to be confident – in business, in life and as a mother. She questioned why women are so much more likely to talk themselves down when compared to their male counterparts and asked what women can do to change this.

The panel – Chris Bath (Anchor, Channel 7), Kate Torney (Director of news, ABC), Sunanda Creagh (News editor, The Conversation) and Catherine Fox (Journalist, author and former AFR columnist) – took up the challenge and ran with it. All of these women – successful by any measure – revealed they had faced their own confidence issues and freely shared advice for overcoming them.

Surprising the audience, the panellists referenced moments in their careers where they challenged their skills and ability. When Torney’s boss called her into his office at one point, she thought he was fishing for her opinions on her male colleagues. Instead, he offered her a promotion. Bath thought a request for a meeting from her boss had something to do with her hair. Sunanda noted that nearly all of those itching to get their opinions onto The Conversation were men and urged women to push harder to get their point of view up in lights.

Acknowledging they had developed their own confidence tricks, the panellists passed on their tips.

A few takeaways:

  • recognise the skills you have and step up when those skills are needed. Some humility is okay though (phew). Knowing what expertise you don’t have is also a strength.
  • be persistent if you don’t get the outcome you want from a negotiation the first time
  • put yourself out there – you have nothing to lose but everything to gain
  • women should back each other – mentor, speak up when discrimination occurs.

After the panel discussion, questions came in fast and furious. The audience wanted to know: do you need to act like a bloke to build confidence (no), how do you come across as assertive without being a bitch (practise) and is it possible to step back for a while to focus on family and still get ahead (possible and probably preferable but Australian business still has a cultural problem with this so don’t expect it to be easy).

Ogilvy Public Relations Australia was pleased to attend this event as part of its partnership with The Walkley Foundation to promote and highlight press freedom and equality, as well as campaigns around the advancement of women working in media. Diversity and inclusion are part of our DNA and we are proud of our own workplace commitment.


Arli Miller, Director – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy Public Relations

Executive women power up online networking

July 18, 2014 by  
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It was standing room only at an Executive Women Australia lunch in Sydney on Friday, a testament to the pulling power of good company, a good lunch and the widespread desire to get more out of LinkedIn

Tara Commerford, LinkedIn’s head of communications for Australia and New Zealand was the speaker at the EWA workshop event, sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations.

The event was billed as LinkedIn’s Seven Secrets to Career Success Workshop and Tara delivered as promised and then some, with a lively discussion rounding out the formal proceedings.

LinkedIn now has 300 million members worldwide – including six million in Australia. It is the social media platform where our professional lives play out.

So, how do make sure your LinkedIn presence is acting in your favour? Once Tara took the stage, the tips tumbled out.

She urged the audience to take control of their executive profile. Substance and style are both important given profiles with professional photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed.

On the sometimes vexed matter of connections, we were assured it was quality not quantity that mattered so invest time in professional online networks by connecting with people that matter and leave the ‘my network is bigger than yours’ argument to the men.

Passive is boring so  contribute to relevant debates, stay on top of leading ideas, and don’t be shy of making your voice heard by posting and sharing updates. Join some groups and once you are comfortable with your own brand, think about your company’s. Put a human face to it by sharing activities and milestones.

We all know that being a couch potato is bad for your health and it turns out to be a bad career move as well. Tara urged the crowd not to get stuck in a comfort zone but to keep moving and to consciously promote adaptability, now a prized commodity in a fast moving world.

Even if many of us underestimate the impact of our online presence, employers do not. Seven out of 10 businesses have rejected a job candidate because of information found online.

After Tara’s presentation the questions came thick and fast: how do you get a 70 year old boss to take control of his own profile? How should one manage endorsements and what about LinkedIn business pages?

Tara handled every question with aplomb which, given she was, in true executive style, jetlagged, was particularly impressive. Ogilvy PR’s Susan Redden Makatoa, who chairs the EWA Advisory Panel, spoke for the room she delivered a heartfelt thanks.

Emma Connors, Senior Media Strategist, Ogilvy Public Relations


Doha to Sydney and everything in between

June 26, 2014 by  
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Three weeks ago, myself and a colleague were in Doha with our client at Al Jazeera English, and we all had high expectations that the journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed would soon be released from their Cairo prison cell because the evidence against them seemed so flimsy and capricious.

On Monday those hopes were dashed when Australian Greste and Canadian Fahmy were sentenced to seven years gaol, with Egyptian colleague Mohamed picking up an extra three years for having in his possession a spent bullet casing– a trifling souvenir that is apparently evidence of his further guilt.

During our short stint in Doha we met with senior executives across the network, including Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey, a journalist with impeccable credentials and track record across the globe.

Anstey and the entire organisation have been deeply concerned about his team ever since their arrest 178 days ago.  All for what Anstey tasks his journalists to do every single day, which is to be “bold, challenging and fearless” and giving a “voice to the voiceless.”

Sister network Al Jazeera Arabic director of news Ibrahim Helal gave us insights into the social, legal and political dynamics within Egypt that have caused not just the three journalists to be imprisoned, but also many others that face far worse punishment under the new regime.

Both networks strive to uncover those stories that people want to remain hidden.  Greste and his colleagues have been victimised for doing their job in Egypt in what Anstey has characterised as a political show trial that “defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice.”

As a PR agency we are often tasked to help drive causes and issues that drive commercial imperatives for our clients.  However, during the past 179 days, we’ve had a higher calling.

Since the journalists’ arrest we have been supporting the far more important social principle of press freedom in Australia and across the world, because that is an essential ingredient of strong democracies and political accountability.

We’d urge everyone to support Al Jazeera in its efforts to uphold press freedom and seek the immediate release of the Cairo three.

Emilio Robles, Howorth Communications / Ogilvy Public Relations


Ogilvy Public Relations Sydney team supporting #freeAJStaff


A Letter to America’s CEOs: Gender Parity Is an Economic Imperative

June 13, 2014 by  
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Ogilvy PR CEO Chris Graves pens a letter on Time Magazine’s website to the CEOs throughout America, stating the importance of gender equality and how business improves when female leadership in the workplace is prevalent.

Dear CEOs and business leaders,

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so too has their commitment to social change. Heightened competition coupled with a more sophisticated and demanding consumer has led to increased innovation, enhanced corporate social responsibility efforts, and in turn, greater value for both business and the communities they serve.

From poverty to education – our global corporate community has made significant inroads to drive social awareness and inspire a call to action for greater progress and prosperity. But for all the good we have accomplished together, it seems that some of the biggest challenges still left to tackle can be found within the walls of our own institutions.

Read more here.




Social Media Matters – Highlights from 2014

June 5, 2014 by  
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Social Matters rocked Singapore at the end of May boasting 400 delegates, 30 global speakers and nearly 4 million impressions, swiftly making this social media conference trending #1 across Singapore.

Social@Ogilvy sponsors this event each year and I was lucky enough to attend on behalf of the Australian team. Here are a few of the highlights from the three days.

The main theme of the event was “Ideas Shared” and it was backed by a wide ranging selection of speakers. We had screenwriters rubbing shoulders with advertisers, researchers nudging up against analysts and small, exciting start-ups were represented along with big brands.


Content Matters

Content was a hot topic. How do we compel people in this digital world? A number of great speakers shared their ideas and experiences and left the audience inspired.

Doug Scott, Founder and President of OgilvyEntertainment shared his views on Building Story Worlds. Doug showed a mash-up video that his team had created from Kevin Spacey’s famous story-telling speech. It emphasised that, no matter when or what device they use, people want complex, smart stories. At a time where people are under increased pressure to protect their reputations, the hard truth is risk takers will be rewarded. Doug’s presentation reminded us to be a little braver with branded content thinking.

Following this, Emmy award winning screenwriter, Guy Nicolucci presented on “The Big Steal”. As a comedy writer, Guy is a borrower, believing “You never create content you only recreate content”. Guy used the movie industry to explain story telling often follows a template because people like the familiar. Guy’s parting advice was “Find good ideas, steal them and make them better”.


Also at the event was Keith Hernandez from BuzzFeed.  He shared his take on how to create content that people want to share. Keith explained Buzzfeed operates with 150 full time journalist working across the globe.  Each journalist has access to data and insights on their work which means they can determine what content is the most popular. This allows the platform to constantly evolve and optimise so it can deliver the most compelling content for its audience. “You need to be locally relevant, globally consistent,” Hernandez said.


An interesting social channel for the audience at Social Matters was YouTube. In the APAC region, the popularity of YouTube influencers has sky rocketed and Michael Stevens of Vsauce (https://www.youtube.com/user/Vsauce) shared his secrets to keeping his audience entertained. Michael created Vsauce to satisfy his own curiosity and this then drove authentic content based around his own interests. He believes that people are inherently curious and they are thirsty for knowledge.  Curiosity he said is the human need that brands should fulfil in an interesting way with content that informs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzIvDf5jebA)

This was an inspiring conference that left everyone thinking and many re-considering their approach to content. Top tip takeaways from the industry leaders present were the virtue of storytelling – was, is, and always will be a big pull card – and the durable power of emotive content.

Katy Daniells



A conversation with Emilio Robles

April 8, 2014 by  
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Emilio Robles completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at UOW in 1980 and a DipEd in 1981 intending to become a teacher, but never made the classroom. Instead, he forged a career first in journalism then as a high-flying Public Relations executive in the United States before returning to Australia. He is now Director at Howorth. This is his journey.

Childhood:  I was a first generation migrant, arriving in Australia in 1961 at the age of three from Madrid, Spain. By the age of five I was my household’s translator: everything from helping buy our first TV to running down to the corner shop in Lake Heights to buy my dad his favourite brand of cigarettes (something I’m pretty sure a kid that age wouldn’t be allowed to do now).

The trust and confidence my parents had in me to communicate effectively on their behalf inspired me and helped shape my character.

Big Break:  Actually, it was a series of ‘big breaks’ rather than just one. The Illawarra Mercury newspaper gave my first two big breaks. Firstly, it hired me as a journalist on its weekly free paper, which had just started up. I learnt a lot, not just about writing but about stories and more importantly about people.

The other break it gave me was asking me to help the paper transition from old hot metal technology to computerised typesetting. I was a bridge between the editorial department and the printers and I helped train the journalists on the new computer systems and workflows.

That led to my third big break: sparking an interest in technology that got me a job as the Corporate Affairs Manager at Apple Computers in Australia in 1987 and then as a senior PR manager at Apple, Inc. in California in 1991.

Read the full story here.

Embrace empathy – it’s good for you and your people

April 4, 2014 by  
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Whether we work in an agency or inhouse, regardless of the discipline, most of us are, or will end up, leading, coaching or managing people.

But what type of person are we when we’re leading?

My very first PR agency boss, a kind-hearted Lancashire man back in England, gave me a bit of his wisdom that has stuck with me. He said: “Employees will often forget what you say. They will often forget what you do. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

He was so bloody right …..

Click here to read more.

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