Ruth Jones, LEWIS’s newly-appointed UK managing director, explores her new role, PwC’s Tech She Can charter and how to ensure the comms industry provides opportunities for women to develop their careers.
You’ve just been promoted to MD at LEWIS, what does the role encompass?
The marketing industry is evolving at pace. On the one hand, technological innovation is changing how content is being delivered and consumed. And on the other, fiscal pressures are merging previously siloed marketing spend.
This creates the opportunity to do things differently. To experiment with new technologies. It enables us to create one marketing strategy for clients, which informs our content and creative development and feeds into the execution teams for social, paid, PR and sales enablement.
My focus is on encouraging fast-paced innovation across our services. And inspiring our clients to embrace new ways of working.
LEWIS has pledged to support PwC’s Tech She Can charter, what is the charter and what will the agency be doing to support it?
The focus of the Tech She Can charter is on creating role models that inspire the next generation of female talent. It’s about helping the tech industry become more appealing and approachable, and demonstrating the impact that women could have on society by working in tech.
Let’s face it, pretty much every business is a tech company in some respect these days, and I can’t think of any business that doesn’t benefit from a combination of male and female talent.
At LEWIS, technology is our heartland. We work with technology brands day in, day out. In our business, we attract people at all levels to work at the agency, with a clear path for graduates up to senior leadership positions.
For us, support for Tech She Can means getting involved in the discussion and sharing learnings. We will be working closely with PwC and other partners – not least to share how we recruit, mentor and empower our female staff throughout their careers.
How important is it to encourage women and girls to study STEM subjects and enter STEM industries?
This isn’t just about creating equal opportunities. The world faces a major talent shortfall, not least when it comes to tech skills. If we are to get close to solving this problem, we need to attract both genders. Today, only 27% of young females consider a career in tech. We need to change that.
As a woman in a senior position in PR and comms, what do you think the industry can do to enable more women to reach senior level?
Transparency around senior positions is key, combined with an industry effort on shared learnings around success and failure. The industry is changing. And with it, so is what is expected of senior leaders.
There is a much higher expectation on senior leaders to be more agile, innovative and bold. And to drive change at speed. Equally, there is an acknowledgement that working practices are constantly evolving, and effective senior leaders come in all shapes and sizes, often spinning several plates and needing to manage work and life effectively to find the best balance.
Women (and men) will feel much more empowered to reach for the senior positions if they feel supported and know what they are signing up to.
What does LEWIS do to ensure women have opportunities to develop their careers?
LEWIS recognises talent. Our training programme, passport scheme and various other initiatives provide plenty of opportunities for anyone to develop a career here, and we are proud that we have several female members of the leadership team around the world.
Finally, how do you keep your clients happy?
We listen. The best relationships are where our clients talk openly to us about their business challenges and pain points. We architect campaigns that help them drive change in their business and challenge the status quo.
Then, we can move fast to deliver what we promised. As an agency, we are still (fiercely) independent, which gives us real agility and means we’re not bound by layers of decision making. It is gives us the ability to move at pace.