International Women’s Week: The Wonderful Women of OG
At OG, we celebrated International Women’s Day with International Women’s WEEK, where we celebrated the wonderful women of OG, and their essential role in our workplace and in our lives (one day’s simply not enough!).
All last week we were sharing the stories and experiences of some of our amazing women, and we think the world should know how about how great they are as well. Here’s what International Women’s Week meant for us at OG.
Samantha Curtis, Senior Account Manager
Although the discourse around International Women’s Day is firmly set on the future, I find there is value in taking the time to reflect on how we can honour the women that helped shaped us.
The women in my family have always been a make-do and mend lot – and for good reason! I fondly remember my nan sitting in front of the TV, darning socks and mending my school clothes for the umpteenth time. I was the kid at school with knitted jumpers to save money. Every World Book Day saw my mum working over her sewing machine into the wee hours rather than buying a costume, and picture days meant her yelling blue murder as she fixed a dress she’d made after I’d managed to rip it.
All of these teachings have made me an avid arts and crafter. I have unfortunately also inherited the frugal nature of looking at things and thinking “I could make that myself for less”, which is often more trouble than it’s worth.
But every time I sit down at my mum’s old sewing machine, I’m honouring her by putting into practice what she taught me, and thanking her for all she made for me when I was younger. When I pick up a needle and thread to darn my clothes, I’m thanking my nan for the time freely given so that we could save money, and honouring the lessons she’s instilled in me over the years.
In a time where everything is moving so quickly, it can be grounding to take a moment and think about who the influential women in our lives have been, and what part of their personalities, interests, and ethics we want to continue.
Personally, I think it could be as simple as finding the time to reflect on lessons you’ve learned from the role models in your life, and how you might want to act on these. Or perhaps cooking a recipe that was handed down to you, or putting on their favourite movie and think about how their humour and interests are a part of you. It could be visiting a place with strong memories, or even listening to music you now love because of the person who introduced it to you.
This week, International Women’s Day is quite aptly timed alongside Mother’s Day this Sunday. So, in the spirit of things, this weekend I’m planning on making a blouse and crocheting a jumper. I’ll go for a walk in the nature reserve my mum and I used to visit, and think about the important women in my life, and what parts of them I want to bring more of into the world. However, I’m still deciding which ELO album I’ll have on blast for the whole day – Discovery is currently winning.
Lindsey Mousinho, Client Director
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day (8th March 2021) is #choosetochallenge. My challenge to myself in 2021 has been to read more non-fiction. I am an avid reader but normally find myself reaching for either a trashy novel or what my husband calls “Dad books” – think John Le Carre or Michael Crichton. Great for falling asleep to after a long day but not necessarily enriching my mind!
One thing that has helped me along this journey is the fact that my lovely mother-in-law, Katy Mousinho, is brilliant at suggesting what I should read next. In fact, she has just published her own non-fiction book – Wonder Women: Inspiring stories and insightful interviews with women in marketing.
It is full of true stories and insights from a huge variety of women who have influenced marketing over the years. From Brownie Wise, who transformed Tupperware to Mary Wells Lawrence, who founded the advertising agency Wells, Rich, Greene, to the only female country CEO in Carlsberg, Helle Muller Petersen.
As an agency, over the past few years, Octopus Group has spent a lot of time thinking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and in PR & marketing specifically, so the book is a no brainer for us!
It is full of great stories but there were a few quotes that really stood out to me:
“If nobody will challenge or think differently, nothing will ever change. You have to stop sometimes and think differently to make a difference” – Elena Marchenko, global category director at Arla
If you feel like being inspired, grab a copy on Amazon here!
Stacey Nardozzi, Senior Account Manager
When I was at university working towards my PR degree, I was part of a student society known as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), where I became President in my final year. It’s because of that group and the connections I made through it, that my career is where it is today.
I’ve always wanted to give back and support the organisation that helped launch my career, but being an American living abroad has made that a bit challenging. The frequency of my visits back to Michigan are usually only once a year, and the time difference makes joining virtual meetings nearly impossible. So, I was honoured when an old colleague of mine, put me forward as a virtual panellist for her Alma Mater DePaul University’s PRSSA chapter, to mark International Women’s Day. The theme was international women in PR and I was joined by two other women from Amsterdam and Israel.
We started off with introductions and talking about how we made the decision to move abroad and pursue a career in International Public Relations. All three of us are expats, either Canadian or American, and it was interesting to hear these women’s experiences moving abroad, and working in a corporate culture vastly different to the ‘American way’. Many of us found the PR landscape in the US or Canada to be quite competitive, and were seeking opportunities to expand and grow our careers.
The conversation flowed naturally into discussing the nuances of working in PR in a different country, especially when it comes to things like the media landscape, annual leave policies, maternity and paternity pay and the general office culture. There isn’t a government mandated maternity leave policy in the US, with some women re-joining the workforce only three months after giving birth. For women in the workforce this is an important consideration, and one of the benefits of living and working in a European country is government mandated maternity pay and leave. For me, the most surprising thing that I didn’t expect to get questions about were the things outside of work. Things like how to make friends and what to expect socially, as well as salary considerations, as salary levels in Europe are generally lower than the US.
One of the questions that was asked was around how women can advance in positions of leadership. This is such a critical question for women starting out in their careers and for those who are aiming for growth and progression. The most important thing from my perspective is to be your own advocate. To be vocal about your own success and to raise when you feel like you should be involved in a certain meeting or project. No one is going to do it for you. You have to ask those questions and go into it with a curious mindset. I have always conducted myself in this way, being vocal when I feel like I should be involved in something, or want to learn more, or when I feel there was gender bias. I think it’s a valuable tool for women who are looking to progress in their careers, especially in a country that you weren’t born in.
It was such a privilege to be able to speak to these public relations students and get them excited about the opportunities that are out there for them, especially for women. Moving abroad and building a career in a foreign country is possible. It was one of the best decisions I made personally and professionally.
Natasha Szczerb, Client Director
Over 10 years ago I left my home country of Brazil and moved to Israel. I quickly had to adjust to a new culture, new language, new home and new way of living. Until moving to Israel I was not very self-sufficient or independent, so had to quickly adapt and pick up life skills like cooking and cleaning, all while learning hebrew in a war-torn country.
Changing careers was also hard. I wasn’t familiar with B2B marketing as I’d worked as an advertising copywriter until then, and was mostly looking for similar jobs to begin with. I’d never heard of leads, sales funnel or KPIs before! I’d been working in Portuguese until then, so it was a steep learning curve to learn English at the same time as B2B marketing.
Living in an unpredictable setting like Israel toughened me up and taught me a lot about life before I moved to London. The second time round I was better prepared, but it of course came with its own set of challenges.
Finding somewhere to live and work in a city like London isn’t easy, but this encouraged me to really do my research and find the right company for me. I didn’t want just any job, I wanted to find something I really liked, to continue growing my career within B2B marketing. So I didn’t just apply to open roles I saw, I started researching companies with the profile I was looking for and approached them directly.
Both experiences turned out to be incredible opportunities. I’ve learned new cultures, new skills, new languages, met so many new people (including my husband) and had a big career change from advertising copywriter to B2B marketer.
Nevertheless, these opportunities shaped my life in ways I never expected, and helped me grow so much both personally and professionally. I feel really lucky to have found a career that I love, and to have made amazing friends from different parts of the world. But most of all to have formed my little international family, particularly in welcoming my gorgeous baby boy to the world last year.