How I made it: Victoria Wright, MD of Publicis LifeBrands, Publicis Resolute and Real Science
For our latest inspiring stories series, 'How I made it', we're interviewing the cream of the crop across all facets of communications and marketing. This is where you'll learn about how the best in the industry got to where they are today and hopefully pick up some tips along the way to help your own career progress.
From a young age, Victoria’s favourite word was ‘Why?’ and her desire to challenge the norm has remained strong throughout her career. She currently puts this curiousity to good use as Managing Director of Publicis LifeBrands, Publicis Resolute and Real Science. Three agencies within the Publicis Health UK family, renowned for providing the crème-de-la-creme of Advertising, PR and Medical Education. With over 20 years industry experience, Victoria began as a medical rep. She went on to inhouse marketing roles before realising her true calling: agency life! She worked at TVF and Hayward Medical, before finding her home at Resolute Communications in 2007. She was a Director when Resolute was acquired by Publicis and became General Manager of Publicis Resolute in 2014. Two years later, she was promoted to her current role as Managing Director.
How did you get into the industry?
I came out of university in a recession and for a while didn’t know what I wanted to do. For a while I cleaned houses, which my mother was very unimpressed by.
However I made a good living and learned how people lived so it was no bad thing. Then my mum (who was a nurse) said “Why don’t you try medical repping?”. So I became a medical rep and entered the industry via that route, It was definitely the hardest job I have ever done, but taught me a lot that has been invaluable to me ever since
Did you have a big break?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a big break. I think it’s been about little wins and pieces of luck along the way.
What keeps you sane on those crazy days?
“This too will pass” I think it is important to keep everything in perspective, whether good or bad every day is a new day.
Also, I have a six year old – I go home and see him and he couldn’t care less what I think is important so he helps.
Do you have a daily routine that helps you to stay focussed and motivated?
No, I don’t really – other than making lists but doesn’t everybody? This job is not a routine job and you need to be able to roll with the punches and take the changes if you are to do it properly.
Do you or did you have a mentor?
I really admire people that are entrepreneurial and people that have set up their own businesses, like my current boss, Phil Chin who set up Langland and my mentor, Anna Korving, who set up Resolute Communications with Paul Blackburn.
I remember meeting Anna at my interview for Resolute 11 years ago. She has always right from the early days been a champion and supporter of mine. She saw something in me when I first came to Resolute, as an AD and has always been someone who has faith in my ability, is someone who is there to talk through ideas and to offer advice.
Describe yourself as a leader in three words…
Passionate. Supportive. Open.
With the knowledge you have now, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I’d give the same advice to myself that I give to the 21-year-olds that we have in the business now. Be brave. Try things. If it doesn’t work out don’t worry about it. Try something else, it’ll be fine. And don’t always think you need to be going in an upwards direction. Some of my best career moves have been sideways and actually down as well.
As a female leader, what has been your experience of getting to the top? Did you face any obstacles you weren’t expecting?
Firstly I don’t think I am at the top!
I think all of the obstacles I’ve faced have been ones that have been made by me, rather than by anyone else. It’s a very female dominated industry and I’ve never felt like I’ve faced any glass ceilings or anything like that.
The first time I was offered the opportunity to go for general manager, I turned it down. I’d just come back from maternity leave and it would have meant working five days a week, which wasn’t what I wanted. That was the right decision for me it possibly slowed my career, but I did what made me happy and I have no regrets.
What top three things would you do to improve diversity in your industry?
The first thing is remembering that if you are constantly looking to hire in the same places that you’ve always hired, you’re going to get the same people that you’ve always hired. So it’s important to look in different places and find different people to hire. The second thing is reducing the reliance on CVs. I am very proud of the Publicis Health ‘intern’ programme, The Lab, in which CVs do not come into it and we ask applicants to answer a set of questions all of which are about how you think rather than what your educational history is. Some of our best people have come through this.
And the third thing is it’s crucial to remember it’s not just about bringing people in, it’s about retaining people. We need to ensure we’re not constantly losing great people. Part of this is about introducing different ways of working; we’ve got people working from home five days a week and people working in other countries. . We trust our staff and believe they dont need to be in the office to be working. We do what we can to try and retain our best people.
What is the one piece of technology you could not live without?
Uber or WhatsApp