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Mumbrella360: From ‘losing confidence’ to a dream job: Industry leader Tara Ford’s work ethic

Transitioning back to work after having children was the “most difficult” part of Tara Ford’s thriving career as a female creative leader.

Reflecting on her journey as an industry trailblazer last month at Mumbrella360, The Monkeys and Accenture Song chief creative officer recalls “losing confidence” following a five-year hiatus from work due to motherhood.

“Coming back into the industry, things had changed. Digital had blown up, and I had to work super hard and not just assume I could waltz into a creative department and write a film,” she said.

Ford has spearheaded award-winning campaigns and worked at renowned advertising agencies worldwide, launching her career as a senior writer at the reputable TBWA in London.

Reflecting on her “dream job”, Ford commended the support she received from advertising guru Trevor Beattie, then chairman and creative director of the global agency.

“I remember the day I started, he sent round an all-staff email [that read] … Tara [has] been hired to shake some trees; make sure yours is one of them. What a great way to start a job, right?”

On her work ethic when breaking into the industry, Ford added: “I felt I had to work harder than everyone.. and I think that was personal because I didn’t want to fail at anything [which is] probably a failing in itself. I wanted to get all the opportunities and make the most of everything.”

Tara Ford and WPP President Rose Herceg

Throughout her illustrious career, Ford has gained experience in various industries, from trucks and cars to alcohol and gaming, working with iconic brands like PlayStation, Nike, and Nissan.

“What I brought was my perspective, and part of that perspective is a woman because I am a woman, but I didn’t bring that exclusively,” she said.

“You might have a brother, a son or a dad that gives amazing insights that you can write [about] from [their] perspective. You don’t know what you don’t know, so unless you ask the right questions, you might not get that amazing insight.”

During her career journey, Ford has conquered the personal obstacle of learning to say ‘no’, a lesson in setting boundaries and prioritising self-care.

“I would take on [work] and say, ‘I can do that’ and it took me actually quite a long time to say ‘no I’m not going to do that’ or ‘that’s too much’’’.

To Ford, the best solution to encourage more female creative directors in the industry is simple: hire women, promote women, and pay them the same.

“Give them a seat at the table and then listen to them. Bring them in on the big decisions because that’s where the value will be.”

To watch this session recording and more from Mumbrella360, head to Mumbrella Pro.

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