To celebrate International Women’s Day, every day this week we’ve shared an interview with an inspirational woman in a marketing & digital leadership role.
In this final instalment, Rachel Wheeler chatted with highly regarded Marketing Director/CMO Hilary Large, who has worked with some of the UK's most recognisable brands through her boutique marketing consultancy -Chandott Marketing
Please can you provide an overview of your role?
I am a Marketing Director/CMO and I do a lot of my work on a consultancy or interim basis - through my own limited company. Because my two children are young (although getting older and more tenacious by the day) it's been a great way to scope out time to be 'mum' whilst also doing really fulfilling roles.
Most recently, I have been Brand Director for Forever Unique, a mid-sized fashion brand with Seema Malhotra - or Real Housewives of Cheshire fame! - at the helm. I finished this assignment at the back end of 2020 and really enjoyed my time with the business; a mostly female team of 17 and a great sense of 'mucking in' to get the job done.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career?
I'm going to be honest here and say that, quite often, my biggest challenge has been me. Doubting myself (goddamn you imposter syndrome!) when I perhaps should not have done.
BUT... and here is where I get a bit frustrated, the other area I have struggled with is being 'too much’ ‘too full on’, ‘too passionate'. As a 5'3 woman, I think people, often (but not always) men, have been surprised that such passion and candour can come from quite such a small female. The effects of standard gender roles and stereotypes of women still linger in everyday conversations and in the workplace. If I had a penny for every time I was told when more junior in my career "Not everyone needs to hear from you.”' then I would be very wealthy indeed. I have learned to temper my style a little, but fundamentally, I am who I am, and I intend to remain so.
Do you think there are enough women in prominent positions? Why?
We are getting there. The situation will be much better for my daughters than it was for me, as I started out in the seemingly prehistoric year of 1998. I can still remember being told by a male HR Director when I was 22, that 'having women on boards doesn't really work because they get too emotional'. It's great to see so many female-led businesses, bringing fabulously novel ideas to the market, particularly in the fashion and health & beauty sectors. BUT, as women, we have still not achieved parity of pay across all sectors -we're a long way off - and that bothers me wildly.
In what world is it acceptable to pay a woman less for doing the same job as a man? It's still happening though...
What advice would you give to women who aspire to be in a role of power?
Be yourself. Don't be afraid to speak up and out. Learn from men, but don't ape what you might perceive to be 'male behaviours'. FYI, I have made that mistake. Know your worth. Know how to ask for a raise, a promotion, an opportunity but do it in your way. Know your strengths and build on them whilst acknowledging your weaknesses and always, always take up your space.
Chandott Marketing specialise in the following aspects of the multi-channel marketing mix; Data & Analytics, Brand Strategy, Consumer Research and Customer segmentation, contact Hilary for further information.
If you aspire to be in a marketing, digital or technology leadership role, and want to take the next step in your career, our team of experts will be happy to offer advice and support you on your career journey –get in touch!
You can check out our previous Women in Leadership blogs, including our recent interview with Amy Lawson, Founder & Director of ReDefine Marketing, Kobi McCardle, Co-Founder of Dr Fertility, Vicky Betts, Chief Commercial Officer at Hotter Shoes and Deborah Darlington, Director of Brand & Marketing at The Co-operative Bank.