Former TBWA head of strategy Nicky Bryson and Youngbloods create industry mentoring program, The Trenches

After being hospitalised for severe burnout earlier this year, Nicky Bryson – who departed TBWA as head of strategy in June – has created a mentoring program for young talent addressing the increasing pressures of the industry.

The program, named The Trenches, was developed in partnership with with industry body Youngbloods and has already brought on a range of mentors from the creative, media and public relations industries including Chiquita King, Ben Shepherd, Ali Tilling, Henry Innis and Nicole Bardsley.

Nicky Bryson and NSW co-chair of Youngbloods Isabella Rigg

Following her hospitalisation, Bryson was contacted by a number of industry professionals who wanted to share their own stories. This brought to her attention the need for a program like The Trenches to support young talent personally and professionally.

Bryson said: “I believe hearing about others’ experiences and challenges can be a catalyst of change in yourself. Be it general career advice or progression, navigating politics or real personal struggles, nothing is off limits, our mentors have signed up to a vacuum of vulnerability.

“Seeing how leaders have gone through similar situations removes the stigma of guilt and failure or the inertia to empower positive action. This is why The Trenches is about experience sharing as much as advice giving.

“We often get siloed in our bubbles and there is a lot to learn from the different perspectives and disciplines across the industry. Maybe the grass isn’t greener on the other side, maybe it is. Our research showed a hunger for a less competitive, more collaborative industry. We have a tiny hope that by opening up access to a broader view, particularly for the next-generation of leaders, we could make some movement toward this.”

The trenches will be a free program available to anyone in the media, creative, marketing, consulting or technology industries. Mentees will gain access to up to five mentors over a six to eight month period.

Research conducted by Young Bloods found that 96% of people under 30 in the industry lack access to mentors, and the top four topics that they find most challenging are “negotiating pay rises and promotions, maintaining boundaries and saying no, mental stress and anxiety, and managing workload and burnout”.

Matt Gardener, national chairman for Youngbloods said: “A key focus for us this year is to encourage our peers to be more honest and vulnerable with themselves and each other in order to create a more open and empowered industry. The Trenches is a massive step towards this.

“This program will reduce the barriers in genuinely connecting, being vulnerable and feeling comfortable in discussing the topics that affect us – resulting in a healthier, happier, stronger industry. We hope that breaking down these existing silos and internal feedback loops will also result in a bit of industry cross pollination and stimulate growth or at the very least more expansive thinking.”

Mumbrella has contacted TBWA for comment.


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