Voices

Empathetic, Resilient and Purpose-led

Ade Onilude, the founder and chief executive of Women in Marketing and Gabriela Lungu, Founder of WINGS Creative Leadership Lab and WIM on celebrating creativity.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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Evolution. If there was ever a year where the marketing industry needed to evolve, 2022 is it. From optimising the possibilities of hybrid working to elevating the role of creativity in an ecosystem which has become increasingly transactional, the need to evolve both as individuals and organisations is at the very top of the business agenda. 

It is a need which is met with typical clarity and resilience by Ade Onilude, the Founder and Chief Executive of Women in Marketing CIC, who has identified ‘evolution’ as the theme for the Women in Marketing Awards this year. 

Onilude explains: “Evolution is key for marketing as a function and marketing as a profession, one cannot ignore the macro and micro impact on marketing. I think that's what makes marketing interesting and necessary. In the current evolving landscape it's even more important to recognise the role women continue to contribute to the industry despite challenges.”

This focus on evolution extends to the awards themselves with new awards categories launching this year. These will include Creative Marketer of the Year, Strategic Planner and Innovator of the year, an evolution of the Industry shaper category, which reflects the influence of Web3.

In the current evolving landscape it's even more important to recognise the role women continue to contribute to the industry despite challenges.

Ade Onilude, Founder and Chief Executive of Women in Marketing CIC

The new awards categories have been created in consultation with Gabriela Lungu, Founder of WINGS Creative Leadership Lab and WIM advisor, who has been instrumental in developing and researching the new award categories.

Lungu has built her business on the insight that creativity is a practice, a skill to be learned and nurtured rather than a natural talent. This understanding feeds into the launch of the new Creative Marketer of the Year award.

While it is easy to share generic statements on the important role of bravery in marketing communications, getting to grips with the nitty gritty of what that means in practice is a different topic altogether. So what does Lungu see as key ingredients to creatively brave marketers?

“Great creative ideas in marketing and communications cannot happen without risk-taking clients,” she explains, adding: “Marketers who step out of their comfort zone and try out completely new things. New means never-done-before.”

It is following this less worn path that is key to ‘bravery’ in practice. As Lungu explains: “Never-done-before is always risky. You need bravery to approve such an idea, to put budgets behind it though you cannot tell for sure that it will work.” 

However, she notes that “without this bravery, there’s no progress, no evolution.” This underpins the new award and the desire to reward those clients who push the boundaries and lead the way. 

Great creative ideas in marketing and communications cannot happen without risk-taking clients.

Gabriela Lungu, Founder of WINGS Creative Leadership Lab and WIM advisor

The evolution of the awards also extends to recognising the vital role of strategists and planners in the industry. As Lungu explains: “Strategists and planners are those brilliant minds who analyse the data available, cut through the clutter, and help brands and companies find their best way into the future.”

She continues: “Considering the increasingly volatile world we’re living in, with so much complex data, so much confusing clutter, and with such an uncertain future, their role has become more important than ever. Their work is the foundation for all clever marketing decisions and we wanted to celebrate that.” 

The intersection of marketing and tech is increasingly becoming important, however, women still face obstacles in tech. It's important that they have an equal share of voice, and recognition of their knowledge - this will shape work and industry cultures, policies, and future product development.

Ade Onilude, Founder and Chief Executive of Women in Marketing CIC

Women of Web 3.0

The evolved awards are also recognising the new creative opportunities when it comes to technology and Web3. But while we can’t move for articles on the impact of the Metaverse;  what is the importance of elevating women in this space?

“The intersection of marketing and tech is increasingly becoming important, however, women still face obstacles in tech. It's important that they have an equal share of voice, and recognition of their knowledge - this will shape work and industry cultures, policies, and future product development,” Onilude explains. 

With a growing number of data points underlining that women are disproportionately facing burnout and an ongoing focus on the ‘war for talent’, ensuring that women have an equal share of voice increasingly demands a new approach. 

As Onilude explained in a wide-ranging and thought-provoking interview “If you are seeking to recruit and equally important retain female talent, factor in the cycle of their lives; this includes motherhood to the menopause. Increasingly, talent will be judging what companies do in these areas and in health and wellness.”

The evolution of marketing leadership

Looking back on the range of marketers, innovators, and changemakers Women in Marketing has awarded through the lens of the uniquely fragile environment we collectively find ourselves in, Onilude is clear on the key skills necessary for leadership today.

Firstly, they must be ‘visionaries’ but she is quick to note they “must know how to translate vision into corporate goals”. Thought leadership is not a substitute for real leadership. 

Secondly, these leaders must champion the value of marketing and be the voice of marketing internally and externally. Thirdly she points to the importance of valuing development and recognition; both externally for the company and the industry as a whole but also for the value of the leader’s personal brand. 

Empathy and resilience are also cited by Onilude as key attributes in Women in Marketing winners. Adding that the values and purpose of the company and the individual need to be aligned. 

It is clear, both through her work and her eighteen years of insight into the Women in Marketing winners that for Onilude leadership is not static but rather in constant evolution. She points to the fact that the best leaders: “Embrace lifelong learning as a marketing professional and the evolution of the marketing function and role at the corporate level.” 

She cites the work of previous Women in Marketing Global Award winner Abigail Dixon as key to this endeavour. Pointing to her book The Whole Marketer, as well as the practical exercises in  Unit 2 (on Soft skills and leadership) and Unit 3 (focusing on Personal branding.) Underlining that while evolution must be embraced, amplifying and elevating the game-changing leaders past and present is part of both the awards and Onilude’s DNA.