Inspirational Women in Marketing: Isobel Sita-Lumsen, Marketing Director at AOL

Isobel Sita

The next part in our series on inspirational women in marketing comes from the Marketing Director at AOL,Isobel Sita-Lumsen. Find out who her female role models are in the industry and discover the secret to her successful and inspiring career.

Looking back, what inspired you to enter the world of marketing?
I was pretty confused (clueless!) about my career path until I did work experience when I was 15 in New Look’s PR & marketing department. It was the first time in my life I felt fulfillment in work, it was a light bulb moment of realizing I had found a career I knew I would love and be good at. The head of PR at the time recommended I did a marketing degree, so that’s exactly what I did and I’ve been in marketing ever since.

Have you ever faced challenges being a woman in the workplace, and if so how did you overcome them?
I genuinely don’t feel I have, but it’s something I’m very conscious of, now more so than ever. There are some incredible female role models in my company, Arianna Huffington for one, but the industry and senior execs are male dominated. Arianna often sights the famous quote “there is a special place in hell for women who don’t support other women”, and I’m focused on being a female champion and leading by example. I actively support women’s network groups in our industry such as WACL (Women Advertising Communications London) and am in the process of setting up my own women in media group with some likeminded women in the industry.

What mantra do you try to adhere to in your work life?
‘Work hard and be nice to people’. Is it that simple? I think so.

What are three things you look for when you hire people?
Smart, honest and organised

Which iconic marketing campaign did you wish you had created, and why?
I love any campaign that is first and foremost a piece of great video content. When a campaign is so emotive that you want to share it with friends, the power of brand advocacy is epic. What admire most is how hard that is to achieve because it all comes down to an incredible, creative, innovative idea rather big budgets. My favorites are the Old Spice ad ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’, Volvo trucks epic split with Jean Claude Van Damm and T-Mobile’s Royal wedding look a likes ad.

What is the one book you recommend to all marketers?
I’m not a fan of ‘marketing books’ and like getting new insights, theories and case studies from the vast amount of digital resource we have in our industry. I do however recommend a great bio of someone who you admire and who inspires you. Their personal journey is full of life lessons we can apply to ourselves, and our careers. I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In at the moment and picking up a few gems.

Do you have any advice for women striving to achieve similar success in marketing?
Network! Take any and every opportunity you can to meet people in the industry. If you forge good relationships with people who will recognize your good, heard earned reputation, then opportunities open up when you least expect them.

Name one gadget you can’t live without?
iPhone. I have two, one for work and one personal. I had work and personal combined on one phone until recently when I felt I needed to separate work out of my personal life. You have to have boundaries and taking work email off my personal phone was liberating! It doesn’t mean I always have my hands full of phones and am regularly seeking a charger, but its worth it. I now check in with work on evenings and weekends when I need to, and want to, rather than having a 24/7 influx.

What would be your favourite business trip destination?
Working for a global company, I’m lucky enough to travel to the states fairly regularly for work and as our head office is in New York, its a double bonus that I can then often see some of my American family that live in the area. My ideal business trip would be to The Huffington Post Hawaii office ! I would also love to go see colleagues in AOL Canada as 13 of us from Toronto and London offices recently went to Kenya to build a school with our company charity Free The Children, and I’d love to see #TeamKenyaCanada again.

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