Aiming to scale digital in Scotland – One woman’s journey

September 23, 2015

Earlier this year, Stephanie Lindsay, Head of Marketing at Glasgow based communications agency, Dog Digital, took part in Special Edition, a professional development programme that seeks to help ambitious, talented women fulfil their potential and reach the very top. Here, she discusses her experience…

special edition blog

I have been to San Francisco a few times; I’d been to Alcatraz, had clam chowder at Boudin’s and walked the Golden Gate Bridge (and back) but boy… I had never been to Silicon Valley and I’ve never travelled 5,000 miles before with a group of six other women who four months previously, I had never met!

I couldn’t quite believe it when I was chosen as a delegate for the sophomore year of TRC Media’s Special Edition; filling in my application form I knew this would be a sought after course for every woman currently scaling digital in Scotland – and if it isn’t, it absolutely should be.

This fully funded course brought together a unique group of women from across the country with one aim – get to the boardroom via hard work and a bucketload of ambition.

Ambition for me has always been something I have struggled with, a four-letter word. Ambitious women can be seen as pushy or stubborn, so I was sure I had fire in my belly and had made great progress at work, but was I really ambitious?

The course spanned 6 months taking in masterclasses in presentation skills, elevator pitching, people management and setting both personal and professional goals (I have now bought a flat however I am yet to get a pug called Elvis!) The icing on the cake, however, was the fact that the course culminated in a 5 day trip to Silicon Valley to meet with some of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies.

We dropped by Facebook for ice-cream and managed to get a lesson in management techniques none of us were expecting. We toured Pinterest, chatted internal communications with Ebay and got our mind blown at Pixar to name but a few.

Those few days were a whirlwind and each night we settled down after a cocktail or three in the hotel bar to make sure we had written up the day’s notes, frightened to forget a second of what we had learned that day.

So what did I learn?

I’m not an imposter!

Day one on Scottish soil as the group assembled, we were tasked with introducing ourselves to the group. What quickly became apparent was we all suffered from imposter syndrome – an MD, a senior designer, a project manager, a 2D artist, a web developer who had just gone freelance and a UX designer already running her own team and me – and we all didn’t quite believe in ourselves.

Don’t be afraid of failure

Meeting with start-up incubator YCombinator cemented the absolute self-belief in Silicon Valley. Companies coming through YC were on the second, third, fourth evolution in some cases – that didn’t work? That’s ok…what next?

Always push the needle

This became the unofficial mantra for Special Edition 2015. One of Facebook’s mantras – making sure that they are constantly moving forward in a cluttered social marketplace. I’ve brought this back to Dog, and we constantly question whether something’s pushing the needle to ensure more efficient, snappier, results-focused meetings.

Change the ratio

We had lunch with Kat Gordon, founder of the 3% Conference, so called as only 3% of all Creative Directors are women. We learned that diversity creates great ideas across race, sexual orientation, background, gender and a great mix of people within an agency will bring with it, great ideas.

Our first meeting with IDEO absolutely showed this; their staff includes an ex-brain surgeon turned UX designer and an 88 year old ex-athlete – diversity is key for pushing their needle forward.

Leaving San Francisco and, in regular contact and meet-ups with my fellow classmates, I’m happy to say that we’ve all experienced positive changes. We’re all independently excellent at what we do and shout it from the rooftops and equally all now benefit from a really strong support system in each other.

It’s been six months since we returned from the Bay Area and personally I’m a lot more focused on where I want my career to go and what I can offer. And what’s even better, is that Dog are supporting me 100%, enabling me to change and challenge and gulp… be ambitious.

Stephanie Lindsay is Head of Marketing at Dog Digital, a digital communications agency with four offices in Glasgow, London, Singapore and Jakarta. You can find her tweeting @stephlindsay82

TRC is one of the top training providers in the UK, with an enviable reputation for producing industry-led programmes that deliver impact and results. TRC has a particular awareness and understanding of the skills and business challenges in the UK creative media sector, having specialised in this area for 15 years. For more information on the courses available, visit the TRC Media website or follow them @TRC_media.