This International Women's Day, we're celebrating one of the inspiring women who shapes and elevates our external relationships here at P+S…
Meet our Client Services Director, Ailsa Billington…
So, Ailsa tell us a bit about your role at Proctors.
I’ve been Client Services Director at Proctors since 2015.
My responsibility is to ensure that we not only deliver projects with world-class creativity and technical excellence, but also the service we provide and relationships we develop with our clients are second to none. I work with my team to identify new initiatives to take to our clients so that we’re constantly adding value and supporting them in their marketing efforts, all the while monitoring and reporting on the team’s profitability and effectiveness in terms of our contribution to the agency overall.
Why did you choose to get into marketing/client services?
I studied graphic design at university and started at Proctors 30 years ago as a designer. The agency was much smaller then – probably just 10 of us in total! We didn’t have account managers in those days and designers carried out the account management function themselves, working directly with clients. As the agency expanded and our client base grew, we recognised that we needed to introduce account management as a role in its own right, so I was faced with a ‘fork in the road’ moment: designer or account manager?
Why is it important that more women are directors today?
I feel it’s important for women to be represented at all levels in any organisation, whatever the seniority of the role, so there’s a balanced and equal perspective throughout businesses.
What's the most important piece of advice you'd give to a woman thinking of starting a career in client services?
Have a thick skin and a calm head! We have to be experts at daily juggling and plate spinning. We often face demanding clients and seemingly impossible requests, so it’s incredibly important to be able to deal with all of the challenges thrown our way. Be happy to replace problems with solutions. Also, always stay one step ahead in your thinking.
Do you think there's a stereotype attached to females in high positions in the workplace?
We’re fortunate in that we work in a more enlightened industry than it was in the ‘Mad Men’ era. And while we still have a long way to go to make it more commonplace to have more women in higher positions, I think stereotypes exist across both genders. I think there are probably also preconceptions and stereotypes attached to men in senior positions! Individuals in any role, senior or junior, should be judged and accepted on their merits in the role, whatever their gender.
How important is it for women to champion each other in the industry and what does that mean to you?
It’s important for us to champion everyone. And ensure that everyone has equal opportunities. It’s important that as women we’re confident enough to seize the opportunities when they arise. But I also don’t like to single women out as people who need ‘special help’, as this reinforces the stereotype that perhaps we’re not capable of achieving things by ourselves.
If anybody in my team, or throughout the business overall, whatever their gender, needs support, then it’s important they receive it, but not just because they’re a woman.
On International Women's Day, what’s the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Just go for it! And help each other along the way. It’s 2019 and there’s no reason why any woman should feel unable to pursue the career that’s right for them. I have two daughters myself – both following very different paths. One is at university studying zoology, and the other runs her own business in facial aesthetics, having achieved her professional learning and qualifications independently.
So there are many routes open to young women in terms of following the career they choose. And it’s not necessarily always the expected one, which is a good thing!
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