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Visha Kudhail lifts the lid on launching the Behind the face of success podcast.
Cast the briefest of eyes over social media channels and it is all too easy to compare and despair over that great professional life you aren’t living. The truth is that behind the faces of success are multifaceted stories and challenges. Yet all too often those stories remain untold.
It’s these stories and the people behind them that are the driving force of my new podcast series ‘Behind the face of success’. Because it's through storytelling that we can see avenues to careers that many can’t even begin to imagine. It was this desire to make a difference that led me to stop thinking about launching a podcast and get on and do it.
I believe that people and their stories are at the heart of the creative industries, which is why I wanted to put people front and center. Despite any challenging period any brand or business faces – whether that is war on Ukraine, covid, or a recession – no business can survive without people. Great ideas come from people, interesting challenges that pressure test decision-making around the table come from that have different ways of thinking. Rich discussions and problem-solving are from people who lived (and learned from) those experiences. All of which contributes to the success and growth of any business by keeping it relevant. Yet the creative industry continues to lack the ability to attract a pipeline of diverse talent from different communities wanting to come to work here. All too often this diverse talent does not even know what opportunities could lie ahead in the creative industries.
And it’s not just the advertising sector, the net is cast even further across entertainment, arts and culture. According to Deloitte’s The future of the creative economy report, over the longer term, the reactive economy is likely to be a key driver of economic growth. Yet a report by the Lords Communication Committee in the UK identified a skills shortage amongst young people and lack of encouragement of blending creativity with STEM subjects. It got me questioning why exactly is this sector so hidden? In a recent visit to do a talk at a local school by the Speakers for School organisation, I asked 300 students whether they knew what a marketing director was and if they knew what a media or creative agency was. Spoiler alert! No hands raised. I wasn’t surprised.
Our wins, failures, learnings and lessons from others that have helped us all get a little stronger and smarterVisha Kudhail, Marketing leader and creator of the Behind the face of success podcast
Thinking about my background: growing up in Forest Gate in East London, my cultural and environmental upbringing meant I didn’t see or have access to role models in the creative world. My dad was an entrepreneur and owned his own shop in Tottenham and my mum did relentless hours stitching clothes on the sewing machine in bulk. With no career advisors and the internet only in its nascent stage, it was fairly difficult to find out what the advertising, creative and entertainment world can offer. Fast forward 25 years, with more accessibility to the internet and mobile devices those barriers remain. While social media has glamorized some creative careers, the uncomfortable truth is many remain both inaccessible and incomprehensible to young talent. While Instagram grids and TikTok feeds give the impression creative success is easy to attain, adding to the pressure is on if you don’t attain it now. For those of us in the industry already, we know this isn’t the reality.
If I looked at a social media app and decided to be a marketing director at the age of 25, I wouldn’t be the woman and the leader I am today. In turn, I want to help the people around me and nurture the next generation of talent. For its our wins, failures, learnings and lessons from others that have helped us all get a little stronger and smarter.
If we want to be really serious about changing our diversity landscape to grow towards a more positive ROI, then yes, we do need to have more communities represented in the workforce, in publications and on stage. However, we also need to start at the root of the problem and this starts with younger people. We certainly can’t improve our output if we can’t fix our input.
So, I decided to do something towards solving the DE&I issue many of us continue to face in the creative industry today. Creating a powerful piece of content by developing a podcast series that brings education and untold stories from inspiring voices that are role models, each revealing the depths of their careers; from winnings to failures, and how they define the term ‘success’.
I believe now is the time to equip the next generation for success through a real, honest look into the sharp edges of life and career journeys.Visha Kudhail, Marketing leader and creator of the Behind the face of success podcast
The line-up includes some well known and respected public figures; from widely celebrated dancer Ed Watson to award winning film writer Stefan D’Bart, actor Tuwaine Barratt, iconic photographer Rankin, CEO of the Institute of Digital Fashion, Leanne Elliott Young, female tech founder Pip Jamieson and casting director Selma Nicholls.
A variety of people lifted the lid on careers I didn’t have access to growing up. Each individual was handpicked. Firstly because they are role models that can offer their own insight for younger people, including how they got into their field of work. Secondly because they are also voices the advertising and technology community would benefit from hearing from.
On this journey I have also learnt a lot. I find myself repeating Ed Watson’s words of: ‘keep the faith, you are going through turbulence in mind’, I have reminded myself of Tuwaine Barratt’s saying: ‘what’s for me won’t go by me’. While Leanne Elliott Young’s perspective on dealing with hardship and life’s roller coaster so ‘you gotta laugh and smile’ is a tonic.
I hope you’ll find these stories and the people behind them as inspiring as I do. I believe now is the time to equip the next generation for success through a real, honest look into the sharp edges of life and career journeys. The antithesis of that ‘great life you aren’t living’ on social media.
We have a long way to go to fix our DE&I problems but I am hopeful our continued contribution - whether big or small - towards it will help welcome people from all communities. Only then can we make the space to encourage more people to find their creative calling.
With special thanks to people and agencies that have supported throughout including all the incredible speakers, Lively Agency and Amansan Creatives for their partnership. Audio editing credit to Content is Queen.
Formerly Director of Business Marketing, EMEA at Pinterest, Visha led marketing Pinterest for business audiences across Europe, driving its positioning and awareness across the region over the past 3 years. Prior to Pinterest she worked across YouTube Ads marketing at Google, going on to lead industry brand and reputation for both Google and YouTube in the UK. Before that, she spent twelve years at Thinkbox - the marketing body for commercial TV, leading TV campaigns, large scale events and initiatives with leading industry bodies in the UK. Visha is a 2013 WACL Future Leaders Award winner, and in 2015 co-founded the FUTURES Network to bring all winners together to support and inspire each other as they continue to develop into even stronger female leaders. Visha champions diversity and in 2020 she launched Pinterest’s EMEA chapter of Women@ and then became the Exec Sponsor for the global group. She is a huge supporter of industry initiatives that recognise and celebrate diverse communities. Visha is also an Advisory Board member for OK Mentor, was awarded 2021 BIMA 100’s Champion for Change and recently was awarded Best Marketing Leader at the 2022 Global Women In Marketing Awards.
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