To celebrate International Women's Day, this week we are putting the spotlight on inspiring women in digital leadership roles. In this 3rd instalment, our own inspiring leader, Forward Role’s first-ever female Associate Director Rachel Wheeler, chatted with Vicky Dring, Head of Digital Products at Studio Retail.
1. Provide an overview of your role
As Head of Digital Products my role is a cumulation of all the best jobs I’ve ever had whilst still enabling me to learn and develop. My role is to bring Product Management practices to my team, plan and deliver digital strategy including digital marketing and CRM alongside owning the marketing technology stack to deliver best in class digital products (mobile and app) that support our business goals.
2. What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your career
Challenges in my career have been key building blocks to my success and influenced the way I lead my team. These milestones have shaped my values as I have moved through my career.
We all face challenges and I don’t think my experiences are very different to a lot of women in the workplace, from attitudes towards me having a family and the juggling that goes with it (and rightly or wrongly mum guilt!) alongside lots of workplace experiences that have affected me either directly or indirectly. I’m not sure where I would be if I hadn’t faced these challenges, but I do know they have given me strong values grounded in respect.
3. Biggest success stories
Landing my current role which has all the best elements of my career to date and is still giving me plenty to learn and develop (coupled with leading an amazing team of experts).
Past highlights include creating and delivering digital marketing campaigns across a variety of retailers, the ability to innovate for example, the Boots, Apple & IBM Sales Assist App. Successfully trialling improvements to the click and collect proposition, removing operational inefficiencies and improving customer communications… all these things wouldn’t be possible without the people I have collaborated with. Ultimately what’s been the most satisfying in my career are the relationships I have built up with my teams, the people I have met and what I have learnt from them en route.
4. What advice would you give to women who aspire to be in a role of power
Firstly ‘power’ is a very strong word with its definition being “possession of control, authority, or influence over others…” I’d prefer to be known for leadership rather than power.
My advice would be trust yourself and your instincts, I believe women’s ‘super-power’ is to be aware of situations around us, we are great at seeing the bigger picture, reading the room and appreciating other opinions. Don’t compromise on your values, say ‘yes’ to every opportunity and if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
5. What factors do you think have caused an imbalance at the top of the ladder between men and women? What do you think we can do to overcome these challenges?
In my view, the imbalance is down to the history of women in the workplace and the roles we ‘traditionally’ have held; coupled with the impact of maternity and the caring prerogative associated with women we have standing starts where our careers are interrupted or affected by a view that we can’t do both well.
So how do we overcome the challenges? We need to value and respect everyone – all of us have this responsibility and it starts with every interaction we have, no matter how fleeting it might be...’conscious inclusion’ is where we need to be and it starts from the top.
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