Women in Business | Working & Leading in a Male Dominated Industry | Amy McManus, Digital Women 2019

By | August 7, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen please put your hands
together the lovely Amy McManus. So good morning everyone, thank you so much to Lucy for inviting me here. It’s an absolute pleasure to be in this
room with every single one of you. My name is Amy McManus, I am the Founder and
Managing Director of AM Marketing, an award-winning digital marketing agency
based in Kent in the UK, but we work with brands all over the world, and as you can
see I’ve got a few nice awards under my belt. I’m a Google Partner specialist, I’m a YouTube trainer my agency was actually placed in the top
30 Google Partners within the UK so we were placed in the top 30 picked out of
30,000 agencies in the UK, so we’re doing alright. I’m a member of the Royal
Commonwealth Society, the Guild of Entrepreneurs, I’ve done TED talks I’ve won Amazon Awards, I was a finalist for the Women of the Future Awards. But let’s
get real right? That’s what you see on Instagram, that’s what you go onto social media and you look at AM Marketing you look at
me and you think, oh she’s award-winning she’s done all this, she’s done all that. That doesn’t show the story of how I got to this point right here. And it doesn’t, you know
what I mean when you go on Instagram you think oh they’ve got it together, they
know what they’re doing. It’s a lie. It’s a complete and utter lie
and normally when I’m speaking I’m talking about YouTube I’m talking about
digital marketing like oh let’s do this and this and that but today
we’re going to do real talk, and I was speaking with Lucy Hall a couple of
months ago and I was describing how I got to this position, how I got to
be Managing Director of AM Marketing and she said oh right, okay shit, you’ve got
to come and tell that story. And so today is gonna be as it was advertised, very
frank, it’s gonna be very very real but I’m gonna start the conversation and
start actually talking about you know what, being a woman in business and being a woman in digital is bloody hard, and only
through sharing those stories with each other and being truly honest as loads
of other speakers have already said this morning, are we going to start
changing the industry and getting more women into digital. So if I
could please be so honored to have every single woman in this room that works in
digital stand-up with me. Thank you for standing up, thank you for standing up so
freely because sometimes people are a little bit oh should I stand up, and can I just start
with a massive round of applause I would like you all to continue. Oh you
deserve a better a better round of applause than that, because you are all
absolutely bloody amazing. You can sit down. You are part of the 21 percent out of
the digital industry, only 21 percent is female. And it used to be more, it used to be 25
then it went down to 23 and now it’s 21. And you all make up part of that 21 percent
so you should be extremely proud of yourselves and extremely proud of
showing your nieces your daughters other young women, here I am working in
digital and you can do the same. That’s what you’re doing, and for me it
was a case of I was always really going to work in a male-dominated industry. My
mother works in stem, she’s a biologist She’s a head of the science
department, so as a child I remember going to visit her in her lab, so for
me a woman in stem wasn’t a weird wasn’t a weird thing. I had a father who
couldn’t care less if I had a vagina or not, he was like I could do
just as whatever I wanted, I could do the same as any other boy, and I had a school
that when I turned 13 put me into the cadet force and handed
me a rifle, so they weren’t really bothered about me being a girl either. So
it was definite from the start that I was always going to go probably into a
male-dominated industry. I didn’t see the difference, and my first job was very very supportive, I had a female boss, I
worked with a lot of other female managers and it was an amazing environment.
But then I took my first marketing job and I was headhunted and I joined this
agency that was going to be amazing and I had quite an important role, I was
21 years old at this time, but I was controlling the retail marketing for 700
stores within the UK and Ireland, so it’s a big job. But within my first 3 days
my boss referred to me as some bird at the agency. Who’s ever been called some
bird before? Yeah, raising yes right up right up there, which made me think, okay
this is weird, I’ve never experienced this before I’ve been very lucky and
perhaps been a bit naive that suddenly I’m being referred to in some derogatory
manner because of my gender, and this was to the client. Some bird at the agency.
When I was introduced to this agency on my first day, I was the only woman there, all
the other men there were tech, IT, digital, the only women apart from the other
woman in the agency who was the PA. And from the back, just as I was being
introduced on my first day I heard someone say oh great we’ve got someone
else to make the tea. Thank you. And that is what I said, internally of course.
So I’m there thinking oh I’m going to start this amazing job, I cannot wait, I’m
so enthusiastic and that’s the first introduction, okay now I’m seeing there’s
nothing else than a tea maker rather than a retail promotions manager, a
digital woman. So I went the other way. I put my head down, I worked incredibly
hard, stupid hard. I thought, lived and breathed, ate work. I
think in one day in November and within my two years of that
agency I had three days at home because I was on the road all the time, I would
get up at five o’clock, I would take a plane, I would go and see
a client in the Netherlands, I would take a plane back, get home at god knows what
hour then be back in the morning in the office at 8 a.m. It was
silly and I’d gone the other way because of that, because of those comments and
because of thinking oh I’ve got to prove myself, I proved myself too hard and it
affected my mental health, I had anxiety it had depression, I couldn’t sleep and I
started to think is my health really worth it? Is it worth the money, is
it worth the work, is it worth proving my point that I can do this job? But really
I’m actually having a hindrance on my health. And it wasn’t worth it,
it wasn’t worth it at all. But you’re gonna like it because it ends in a
positive, I quit. I quit two years later I realized I’m not sleeping, this
isn’t good for my health. My amazing husband at the back, Brad wave, said it doesn’t
matter that you don’t have a job to go to, I’m gonna support you.
You need to quit because you need to do this for your health. So I did, no
job to go to. I then discovered that they were sending emails from my
account, pretending that I still worked there. You see at my time at the agency I
had started as some bird at the agency, I had started as another lady to make the
tea, but I added ten million in turnover within 12 months, I brought on Harrods as
a client, I brought on Amazon as a client. I controlled the retail promotions for
700 stores within the UK and Ireland. I brought on the Netherlands as
well, and I was the youngest person at the time, 21 years old, to win Holland and
Barrett’s Product of the Year Award. So from some bird at the agency I was now,
oh please stay here please still work for us, and Holland & Barrett themselves came
back to me and said do you still work there? I said no. Oh well we’re still getting still getting your emails. But the point of
that part of my life really showed me that no matter how much you want to
prove a point, no matter how much you think that people make you think
you can’t do it because you’re a woman, don’t go the other side, don’t work too
hard, consider your health, take that time for you and it’s made me realize in
my in my life how important it is to take that time, take those pauses, sit
down meditate and actually work on yourself
because then you can give your best self to your work. So I started looking for
another job and I went freelance and I had this amazing opportunity to work for
a very very large company, we’re talking a thousand people within the UK
and abroad and I started doing the same thing. I hadn’t learnt any lessons, I had an amazing supportive boss
who was male but still I was a workaholic, kept on working super super
hard, no days at home, really really long hours and unfortunately at the time
although I didn’t know it, I was actually pregnant and at seven weeks I miscarried,
and I didn’t have time, I didn’t leave time to grieve, I didn’t leave time to to
even consider the health impact on myself. I took three days off, just three
days and I was back at my desk and women in the room and I know that’s going to
be a load of you because it happens to so many, you you feel like a failure, you
feel why I felt like if I can’t do this one thing that I meant to do as a woman,
you know how am I going to do my job, what’s my purpose. And I
thought okay I’ll work, that’s a really bad idea. I’ll work, I’ll sit down. So I’m sat there three days afterwards and I see a letter
on my desk, I open the letter and it’s from the head of HR of the company and
it says due to your miscarriage it has been
brought into question whether you are fit to do your role and we have made a
doctor’s appointment for you which you are required to attend to assess whether
you are fit enough to do your role. I thought oh okay this is a little
thing I didn’t expect. I attended the doctor’s appointment,
obviously it was fine, the doctor was as shocked as I was but being in that
position where I’m already feeling like a failure and then I think
it’s all right I know I can do my job and then that gets brought into question
as well, I’m starting to get an inkling here that maybe working for another
company isn’t for me, that maybe I should be the one controlling the rules here, I
should be the one that is looking after people I should be the one that isn’t
told when I can work, what I should work, what I should have to do. And the head of
HR was actually a woman, which made it even worse. But it was all positive
because after that I thought I didn’t blame that head of HR, I just thought
that the company was too large to handle in those sort of situations it’s really
hard to be able to say you’re an individual case and treat each
person on an individual case with a thousand staff all you can really go on
is protocol. That was the protocol for that in that situation it was horrendous
but that was just a follow through. So I thought to myself okay I’ll find a nice
little company, a nice small medium-sized company where I can really get to grips,
everyone knows everyone by name, it’s all really nice and it’s really intimate. And
I found this amazing startup, female CEO she was incredible and I was there to do
the marketing for startups. So a startup would come and it was government funded and
they would say okay we’re going to do the marketing for you we’re going to
make your business really great. I handed my notice in within 28 hours. You are not gonna believe this okay,
and this is what I say am I in Eastenders, because when I was
telling Lucy this she’s like this is like the story of a soap. On my first
day I found out that several people in the company hadn’t been paid for a
couple of months, I then found out that other people, I was the only female
accompany apart from the CEO, it’s all male, I then found out that the CEO was
paying some people in other ways. Yeah. She must have been good, guys definitely would
have taken the money. Then I started digging I found invoice numbers didn’t
match up so not all the invoices were going into the company bank account,
that’s for sure, I started talking to a lot of the clients, a lot
the clients had paid but hadn’t had the work completed. When questioning the CEO I
then received a picture of a cheque, a really large cheque, £300,000
she says this is going in the bank account today. Okay that’s really good,
she said yes it’s from Inland Revenue Inland Revenue hasn’t existed since 2005 That was really nice of them to give you
that 300 grand and she was in the process of attempting to forge a check
for £300,000 of course of course now it’s all HMRC and I’m pretty
sure that they don’t use Times New Roman as a font. I thought oh god what am I
doing, 28 hours, jobless again, okay but I felt really bad for the small
businesses that had been duped, I felt really bad that they had come to this
company thinking oh god we’re gonna get marketing, we’re going to grow our
businesses it’s going to be really positive, so I said that I haven’t got a
job at the moment, I’ve got nowhere to go I’m not working for this company anymore
I’ll do it for you, look after your marketing for you and then then I’ll do that while
while I’m searching for the work. But then it grew, then the referrals came in
then more referrals came in then I started pitching for other work
and a couple months down the line I had business cards and AM Marketing was
formed. So I kind of owe like I kind of owe that crazy cow everything really.
Just as a side note she’s now committed it turned out that she was indeed a
sociopath not oh my boss is a sociopath,
she genuinely was 100% so there’s no kind that goes out and commits murders. That kind. So at this point I have a business, I have AM m Marketing, it’s going really well I never ever considered myself an entrepreneur
never ever considered myself for a digital marketing and the story of how I
got there I’m thinking gosh that’s that’s a bit intense but I’m so happy
for every single stage of this process I wouldn’t change any of it because every
single thing no matter how awful no matter how many times you think a door
is closing how many times you’ve hit rock bottom there is clear a clear path
to what you’re meant to do and the doors that are opening for you in the process. But then this this old chestnut comes in doesn’t it there’s a lot of mmm-hmm
hands up how many people have impostor syndrome or have suffered with impostor
syndrome? Yes it’s a lot of hands and I think particularly for women, I’ve
never never met a woman in business who hasn’t had impostor syndrome in some
shape or form and it was a really big one for me particularly when I was
working solo at the beginning, there’s that isolation isn’t there it’s just you
and your laptop and your Wi-Fi connection, digital women there
thinking what am I doing? and that little horrible voice in the
back of your head starts to creep in starts to say oh you’re not meant to be
here you know oh it’s all gonna fail what are you doing? Or your mother comes and says you should get a proper job. Classic one.
But I found great solace in networking I found great solace in networking groups
and also particularly female networking groups talking to other people and
realizing that this is not something While you’re sat there by yourself isolated
working on your laptop it’s something that we all go through is it something
that we all feel and although digital’s open up so many
different amazing opportunities that’s one that is really awful about it that
you do sometimes feel isolated to you to you sometimes you just want to talk to
someone. My husband would come home and I’d go You haven’t spoken to anyone all day have
you? So one thing I would like to do and one thing that another speaker did
at an event for me that really really showed me no I’m meant to be here
everyone’s in the same boat if you could just turn to the person next to you and
just share a moment in your business or in your work life where you have felt
that you are not good enough. Tell them you’re imposter syndrome
story, just very very quickly and just share those moments with each other. Ladies I’m gonna give you another minute Okay thank you ladies, thank you Trying to stop a room full of women
talking, I should not have done this bit Thank you yeah yeah
someone whistle, thank you, would anyone like to share their quick story to the
group? Shout out That’s amazing, so can I just quickly asked did
anyone in this room judge the other person for their story? Of course you
didn’t. Did anyone think less of the person next to you for their story? Do
you now feel a little bit better about yourselves? I think because the thing is is we get caught up in this fear that if we
tell the truth that we don’t show absolute perfection on Instagram on
social media if we don’t keep it all together that that’s going to affect our
businesses that’s that’s going to affect our connections that’s going to affect
whether someone comes to us and you know what if sort of person where that
story would affect them giving you business that’s not the sort person you
want to work with and in sharing these stories and getting on the same level
playing field and actually thinking okay I’m gonna I’m gonna be real here this is
this is real talk this is real frank talk people were just okay oh god me too
thank goodness it’s gonna make us feel so much better about the industry we
work in so much better about our roles and really lift us and that’s what you
should be doing as digital women with with only twenty one percent of the
industry female lifting each other inspiring others and making sure that we
start to tip those numbers. So finally please if you’d honor me by all standing together and I would like you to do your best
Wonder Woman pos. Men too come on Jen I’m looking come on ladies, hands on hips
feet abreast as they say chest out high welcome to your power pose and this is
one thing that I’ve learned in the number of years is that actually just
standing in this position has a psychological effect, a positive
psychological effect on you, makes you feel powerful make you feel like you can
do it so everyone at the same time if you would please shout I am an amazing
digital woman 1,2,3 I deserve to be here 1,2,3 amazing
bit louder I deserve to be here I’m an amazing woman. Yeah you are. Finally I
kick ass Yes thank you women thank you
amazing so whenever you are in a place where you think am I good enough am I
meant to be here and why am I working in digital just remember that
you are absolutely incredible you 100% deserve to be here this is a
quote I kind of live my life by that all progress takes place outside of the
comfort zone I’m a great believer in that and I hope that my story of how I
got here kind of shows that that in being thrown into the deep end and
really finding the doors are open when so many others seem closed really can
show you the path that you are meant to be on and if you ever do feel bad you
ever feel I’m not meant to be here just stand like Wonder Woman and shout a few of
those phrases that we have said today. It’s an absolute honor to be here with
you today to be amongst so many amazing digital women and I look forward
to seeing you all later in the break and meeting more of you and hearing more
about your stories thank you.

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