Female Digital Leaders Making an Impact: Jade Tomlin

This Women’s Month, we speak to women about their life and successes in the digital workplace. Today we feature Jade Tomlin, Creative Director.

Honouring International Women’s Day on 8 March 2019, Cogs will be featuring women making an impact in the digital space. Let’s speak to these women about their successes and learnings in the workplace and life.

In this edition of our Women’s Day series, we will speak to Jade Tomlin, Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide London, DDB agency.

We got to know Jade when placing her in one of the pivotal roles in her career as a Senior Art Director. She has now been at Tribal since 2017. Tribal is a Total Experience agency. They connect brands with technologies that solve real-life problems.

Jade has been in the creative industry for 10 years. Traditionally schooled at Central St Martins in Graphic Design majoring in the Advertising course she has worked her way through the ranks from a graduate to Junior Digital Creative, to Senior Art Director to Creative Group Head and now Creative Director. Her journey has seen her work in Singapore, and the UK, covering some of the world’s most recognisable brands from Sony, Levi’s, Mustang and Burberry within an array of leading agencies.

Recent stats suggest that as many as 88% of young female creatives say they lack role models. What and who are you personally inspired by?

“From the very start of my career, I was obsessed with Grafik magazine where I discovered the work of Anthony Burrill on Diesel, to Campaign magazine where Kate Stanners always stood out to me. She was different, having fun in the industry she drove a motorcycle and was doing lots of cool work.

I also met Laura JB quite young in my career she was friends with my first CD Andy Sandoz at digital agency Work Club and came to do a talk. Laura is a co-founder of SheSays a network that has been present throughout my career and as a network, it’s been a huge support to women. Back in 2014, I felt I would benefit from a mentor and contacted SheSays, after further discussion with them it turned out I was one of the most senior people who had applied so they asked me if I would mentor others, which I had obviously not considered, but took on the role gladly.

I should also mention the See It Be It programme, a Cannes Lion initiative to champion female creative leaders to stay in the industry. I filled out the application back in 2016 and was honoured to have been accepted onto the programme. It offers 15 women from all over the world – a truly empowering experience. You get to go to Cannes and meet the biggest Creative Leaders from all over the world, You also receive group and individual mentoring by CCO’s and an incredible VIP tour of Cannes Festival. It was on this trip to Cannes that I met my, now boss Victoria Buchanan ECD at Tribal Worldwide London. During a mentoring dinner on a yacht (pretty surreal!), we spoke a lot about the future of creative innovation and kept in touch back in London. She has been a key influence in helping me build a stable foundation in creative leadership and I’ve learnt so much about how to nurture creative innovation- with a lot still to learn!

What do you think are the biggest misconceptions about working in the Creative sector as a woman today?

I think it is that you CAN be yourself, you don’t have to try to be someone else. If you are quiet, it’s fine. You are a Creative at the end of the day so if you are being ‘creative’ that’s all that matters. I am an introvert, like many creatives, and if you are quiet it doesn’t mean you are not confident. Women conduct themselves differently. You can still make yourself heard.

Anyone, male or female should feel the freedom to be yourself.

Jade, what would your advice be for a female wanting to succeed in Creative today? 

As a female progressing in this industry you may come across cultural barriers. Sharing a personal experience or something that is coming through an idea, to a male-dominated room can be challenging but you just need to work through it. Sadly, there are no quick fixes.  If an idea doesn’t get passed through just try again and again and eventually you will get through. For example, if you explain something and someone interrupts, do a quick knock of your hand on the table and relay your thought again. Feel empowered to stand up for yourself. You are in the room for a reason.

I think networking is important too, there is something about ‘power in numbers’, connecting with fellow women can boost morale and the wonderful men who are avid supporters i.e Ete Davis to Richard Robinson, has been an amazing benefit to women in the industry.

Finally, for me, I have always had big sweeping goals that have driven me in my career. From a young age, I was dead set on being a Creative Director. Though I wasn’t academic I really believed in the power of art in society. So, as I have progressed, with each touch point or milestone I would ask,”will this take you to your goal”? This has helped me focus my energy. I would encourage anyone looking to succeed in this industry to have that big vision for themselves, honour it and go after it.

What is your definition of success? 

Simply doing great work you’re happy with – this is my morning wake up call. Whether it’s coming up with the ideas myself or supporting a team who are trying to develop something groundbreaking.

Unfortunately, there remains a large discrepancy in what female creative salaries are compared to their male counterparts. Particularly CD to C-suite level – it is improving but it isn’t there yet. So, I would also add, success would to one day be respected enough to receive equal pay to my male peers.

Do you think agencies today truly understand work-life balance, especially considering females and futures?

Tribal Worldwide do really value their employee’s commitment to the company. As an employee you really do recognise benefits through the length of service and value you bring to the agency.

Knowing that the Executive Team and HR give support and offer a safety net if you did need it, is comforting. But of course, there is still a long way to go across the board.

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Connect with Jade here.

You can also connect to Jade’s profile on The Dots here and follow her Creativeadventur.es 

Cogs celebrate all the achievements women have made to make their workplace and the world a better place. Happy International Women’s Day and Women’s Month to all the ladies.

Want to make an impact on other women in digital as a recruiter? Join our team today! Click here to view our open roles.

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