A Very Warm Welcome to Shartyn Williams who joins NoTurningBack2020 as an Advisor
12 October 2021
A Very Warm Welcome to Shartyn Williams, Group Operations Director – Cedar Communications (Global content marketing agency) who joins NoTurningBack2020 as an Advisor
‘You cannot be what you cannot see’; says @shartyn williams Group Operations Director @CedarCommunications one of our new Advisors to NoTurningBack2020.
‘It’s so important to have role models and to show it’s possible to do well in the media and publishing industry, and that success and progression can take many forms. I want to help change the narrative and perception of the industry and also open doors for more people. My passions have always centred around training and development, mentoring, wellbeing and the need and want to make our workplace (and work) more diverse, inclusive and equitable.
I was fortunate that I had the backing of the senior management who could see where I could add value, and it’s given me an opportunity to shine, and in turn make our business more efficient, profitable, provide more personal development opportunities for our teams and also open up conversations about how we can be better every day.
- How did you break into the Media & Publishing sector and why did you decide to follow this career path?
I always wanted to work in the media and when I was little I dreamt of being a Blue Peter presenter! In reality, I realised that I didn’t want to be in front of a TV screen, so instead I put my love of media, magazines and love of people to good use, and managed to get myself a job at IPC Media (part of Time Warner), one of the leading UK magazine publishers at the time, as a Planning and Marketing Comms Exec. What an amazing opportunity to grow from the bottom up, learning about the entire publishing industry and opening my eyes up to so many potential careers. I also met some truly amazing people, future mentors and made many lifelong friends during these early years of my working life.
- Where have you worked over your career? I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the best publishing houses, agencies and brands during my career in marketing including IPC Media, River, Seven and most recently Cedar. I’ve been magazine publisher for Weight Watchers, Virgin Holidays and Sainsbury’s, and have also worked on brands including Elle, Sunday Times Travel and most recently/currently Tesco.
- How did you develop your career into a wider Operations role at Cedar? I’d been in senior client-facing roles for 12+ years and my then manager could see I needed a change of direction. I needed to play to my strengths more – really investing in our internal teams, our agency and also my love of process and organising! My passions have always centred around training and development, mentoring, wellbeing and the need and want to make our workplace (and work) more diverse, inclusive and equitable. I was fortunate that I had the backing of the senior management who could see where I could add value, and it’s given me an opportunity to shine, and in turn make our business more efficient, profitable, provide more personal development opportunities for our teams and also open up conversations about how we can be better every day.
- Describe a comms campaign you have worked on that has had a really meaningful long term impact and been a catalyst for behavioural change. I came back from maternity leave in 2013, to a new agency and a new role. I was asked to run a multi-channel campaign project called Tesco Mum of the Year (MOTY), which culminated in an awards event and TV show on Channel 5. The annual project celebrated and also provided a spotlight to some incredible (but ‘ordinary’) mums who were doing extraordinary things – whether it was a campaign to change the law, providing art therapy to really sick children while in hospital, fundraising to pay for ground-breaking research and clinical trials or inspiring others to become (elite) para-athletes. The list of achievements of these women was endless. These women are role models and I was fortunate to be part of their journey. Tesco invested time and resource and we assembled the most brilliant team and cross-agency talent to ensure these great causes got lots of PR and support and provided a long-term legacy. MOTY changed my life and made me reflect on the type of work and projects I choose to work on in the future.
- What do you see as being the main problems for the Media, Marketing & Comms sector and the b2b publishing sector specifically re lack of ethnic and lower socio-economic diversity? There’s a real lack of role models. I rarely see or work with anyone who looks like me, or has a similar comprehensive school background or comes from anywhere outside of London. The pool of talent is there and should be much larger. It’s so frustrating not to see more representation and leadership. Another issue is the lack of understanding that marketing is a proper career, with huge depth, real prospects and opportunities. Our industry should also be looking for talent straight out of school and college rather than just focussing on university graduates. I would also welcome and encourage the inclusion of those (older) candidates who have taken a career break or have changed career path and want to get into marketing, they can add so much value too.
- Why have you joined NoTurningBack2020 as an Advisor? You cannot be what you cannot see. I feel it’s so important to have role models and to show it’s possible to do well in the industry, and that success and progression can take many forms. I want to help change the narrative and perception of the industry and also open doors for more people. I’m very excited that the young ambassadors on this programme are leading the way.
- What more do you think companies can do to overcome prejudice in the workplace? I believe we really need to talk and connect with our employees on a regular basis (it has to go beyond a yearly employee survey and some actions off the back off it). We need to ask questions, have difficult conversations, we need to do the work, and we really need to listen. A commitment or pledge by companies to show they’re working towards sustainable change and improved inclusivity is a really positive move. That way the company and employees can hold one another to account, and change for good.