Inspirational Women: Aimee Buchanan
Each week, SHESAID features an inspiring woman who has been kind enough to share her story with our readers. She might be a leader in her chosen field, someone still on their own path striving to make a difference or simply someone with a remarkable story to tell. These women contribute their own knowledge, expertise and life lessons in order to truly inspire others.
Name and role:
Aimee Buchanan, Managing Director OMD Sydney
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
I manage the Sydney office for OMD. We work with our clients on building great marketing campaigns to address their businesses challenges. One of the things I love most about this industry and my role is the diversity. It sounds cliché but every day is truly different. A lot of my time is spent internally coaching my teams on managing clients and their workloads, and strategising how we continue to evolve our business to address the changing media landscape. Dependent on the client, you find that the challenges, the people and the environments are always different. Advertising, like many industries, is founded on great people so it makes sense that my role has a huge focus on attracting, developing and retaining the best talent.
How/when did you know this what you wanted to do as a career?
I started my career wanting to be journalist or film producer. Coming out of uni I didn’t even know there was such a thing as media specialists, who design, plan and execute media campaigns for clients. I stumbled across an ad in the newspaper, fresh out of uni, that appealed to me. After a few years in the industry, I knew that I had found my sweet spot. I loved the mix of business acumen, creativity and people management that this industry draws on. We are uniquely placed to work with some of the biggest and most sophisticated brands in the country (leading telcos, banks, airlines, etc) but we also get to step away and bring fresh thinking to them. It doesn’t get old. Agencies are entrepreneurial by nature; you need to continually adapt and evolve to stay relevant.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I tend to draw inspiration from the people I work with – staff, mentors, mentees, clients and key partners. It is an industry ripe with creative and innovative people that spark great ideas and that keeps me motivated. Just when you think you may have figured it out, along comes a new spin or development that challenges us to rethink it all!
Did you have a mentor? Who/what helped you to get your career off the ground?
I have had a few different mentors along the way. I think it is important to find someone who can give you guidance for where you are at and wanting to go. I have been fortunate in my career to have supportive managers who have continued to mentor me long after I have worked with them – they have given great guidance because they know and understand me. The relationships I have built with my clients has also been key for me; I have worked with some amazing businesses and great leaders within them. They have backed me and taught me a lot.
I’m now in a position where I can give back, and this is a particular area of focus for me. I mentor four very talented individuals within the business, all of whom are women who are focused on their career and wanting to grow and evolve. Recognising the importance of supporting each other and establishing a strong professional network inspired me to initiate quarterly dinners for senior women within the industry.
What were the stumbling blocks, initially getting started on your career path, and since then?
There has been lots of stumbling blocks! Early in my career, I started a job at an agency and I knew after a week that it wasn’t for me. I then had to work out if I should stay or leave. I ended up taking another role a few weeks later and stayed there for 9 years. The experience taught me to look at the people you work with, what you can learn from them and how they will challenge you day in and day out. I had gotten caught up in the normal things – salary, titles, etc, and it taught me to make career choices from gut and longer term opportunity vs ego and status.
How did you overcome these?
I have tried to stay true to looking at my career choices as opportunities where can I learn, and work with people who can teach me the most. This is about your immediate team, your manager, but in media, it is also about the clients your work with, where their businesses are at and who is wanting to stretch their agencies to do great work and really involve them as partners.
What are your goals for the future?
I am really excited about the direction that we are taking at OMD. We are increasingly finding ways to work more closely with our clients, their data, and build strategies that are accountable and drive business growth.
With the data now available to us, we are positioned better than ever before to do this, and it’s now about how we can elevate and train our people to have greater business acumen, take a seat at a higher table and connect into multiple facets of the clients business. My ambition is to develop the proposition and partnership approach within OMD that realises this for our clients.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?
Work with great people, be proactive in pushing yourself to learn and grow and progress, titles and salary will come. Focus on what you can learn in your current role, what the people around you can teach you and milk it for all it is worth.
Also, remember to enjoy the journey and have a little fun along the way!