Did you choose print or did print choose you?
Oh, print chose me! A college lecturer put me up for a job interview at the end of my PR course, which I ended up getting. It was as PR & Advertising Assistant for a group of companies which then represented names like Heidelberg, Polar, Stahl, Mueller Martini, Compugraphic (phototypesetting…yes, it was a long time ago), and many others. It opened a whole new world for me, including my first Drupa in 1986 and my first involvement in Australian trade shows, as part of that group’s working party for PacPrint88. Despite working with many clients, some ‘outside’ the industry as well as those ‘inside’, print has never quite let me go – and here I am, contemplating my next Drupa and PacPrint!
How do you establish credibility with customers, colleagues and bosses?
By confidently demonstrating my knowledge and sharing my ideas. Many of those I meet in the industry have confessed that they dismissed, or underestimated, me on the initial meeting, assuming I was ‘just the blonde PR chick’. It can be frustrating, but I’ve learned to stand my ground, speak up, and demonstrate in practice that in fact, I DO know what I’m talking about and that my opinions and ideas are valid and worthy of some air time. It can be a long road, but if you make sure you know your stuff, and seek to make a positive contribution, it pays off in the long run.
What advice can you offer regarding negotiating salary raises/addressing fair pay issues?
Much the same as the above, really – know your worth (and be prepared to back it with facts like your colleague’s remuneration, or the going rate for comparable positions). Then believe it – if you don’t believe you have value, you won’t convince anyone else! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. And then stand your ground. As women, we need to be calmly assertive and be prepared to sit with discomfort during these discussions – something I know has always been difficult for me. Above all, avoid backing down or jumping into the silence after the request to negotiate your own remuneration down (something I’ve been guilty of too many times, and far worse because then you only have yourself to blame)! Girls, you’re worth it. Now, go out and get it!
What advice did you receive early in your career that you wished you had followed?
Don’t undersell yourself. As women, too many of us – at least of my generation – were brought up to be ‘quiet’ and ‘nice’, not to ‘make waves’ or disrupt. But the world needs disruption – it did when I started my career, and it still does now. Women find it more difficult than men to speak up, and they have more roadblocks put in their way. That’s what makes it even more important to claim your seat at the table and to make sure your voice is heard. It took me far too long to recognise the value of this advice – don’t be like me! (NB: There’s probably also advice I was given that I did follow…and now wish I hadn’t!)