Female Technologists Trailblazing for Women in Business

We sit down with Singapore-based Margaret Manning, award-winning CEO of international digital consultancy Reading Room, to discuss how women can succeed in the digital communications in industry. The digital communications industry is still largely male-dominated. Its creative and technical focus supports the stereotype that it’s a man’s world. So if I were to give young women advice on how to tackle the industry, what would I say?

By Margaret Manning, Reading Room

Firstly, be tough but don’t forget who you are. To overcome some stereotypical views, you’re going to have to be as tough, if not tougher, than your male counterparts. At the same time though, don’t forget to be yourself. You need to remember that it’s your skills and personality that have got you this far, and it’ll be these same skills that will take you to the next step. The digital world is complicated, and we need as many diverse views and skills as possible to help us succeed as an industry. 
Secondly, take inspiration from successful people. When I first started out, the only inspirational female CEO in the spotlight was the founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick. There weren’t many other female role models from whom to take encouragement.
Since then, media coverage of businesswomen has helped my peers tremendously in overcoming prejudice, and leaders like Martha Lane-Fox have shown that women are more than equal to the challenge. However, it’s important to take inspiration from everyone. One of my personal sources of inspiration is Richard Branson. He built a business empire from nothing, and proved that innovation, smart thinking, and a challenger’s mindset can beat sector leading companies. It’s important that we take inspiration from everywhere we can, regardless of gender. Keep a balanced mindset and you’ll find more ideas that will help you.
Finally, remember that digital communications is about teamwork. The digital landscape is increasingly complex. No one person—male or female—can retain all of the knowledge needed for success. Build strong relationships; help form and be part of strong teams who deliver brilliant work. This is the ethos I’ve tried to instil at Reading Room. We’ve created, I hope, a talented team who is passionate about the digital world. They understand the challenges that businesses and brands are facing to deliver relevant content to consumers whose habits are changing. 
In an increasingly fragmented world, there are hundreds of media channels across a plethora of different platforms. Personalisation and engagement are key in this new landscape, and businesses have had to adapt their marketing strategies to keep up. Digital media is taking priority over many offline channels because it focuses on the individual. But, somewhat ironically, this focus on the individual is too complex for one or two people to deal with. We need to move from small teams thinking about ‘consumers’ to larger teams thinking about ‘individuals.’ 
So be prepared to be tough but remember who you are. Be inspired by all sorts of people, and most importantly, work collectively with others. Your future success will depend on it.