Sharing the Wisdom feat. Emma Martin

A Conversation with Emma Martin, a dynamic leader with a rich background most recently as the Head of Client Services at Four Agency Worldwide, an integrated agency spanning diverse sectors. Here she shares 5 stand-out lessons drawn from her professional experience and we get her take on the importance of role models.

The purpose of article series ‘Sharing The Wisdom’ is to feature, showcase and share knowledge, expert views and wisdom. Local. Authentic. Insightful.

Jess @ ADLIB: Could you please introduce yourself as well as your background?

Great to meet you, I’m Emma and most recently have been Head of client services at Four Agency Worldwide, an integrated agency spanning a range of sectors including Health, Travel, Social purpose, Business, Finance and Property delivering insights and strategy, creative and content, media planning and buying, digital innovation, PR and communications.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a career that has involved working client and agency-side which gives me a different perspective on client challenges. Working with clients as varied as Merck Lifesciences, Fisherman’s Friend, FSCS, Fujitsu, Grant Thornton, DfE and Waitrose mean my sector and audience experience is vast and I’m always looking for ways to cross-fertilize that knowledge and experience.

I get energy from working with people and together finding ways to achieve our goals. I’m passionate about creating an environment where we call all do and deliver our best work.

Jess @ ADLIB: In an attempt to capture some of the Wisdom you’ve gained as a professional so far, what are 5 “stand-out things” you’ve learned that you’d like to pass on to your peers as well as the future generation of talent within your sector?

  1. Be a do-er – having a can-do attitude can feed your curiosity and help you get a better understanding of your own agency, yourself, and your client. I’m not saying it’s not going to be hard work or at times boring and repetitive but treat every opportunity as a way of learning more and cultivating deeper relationships. Early in my career saying ‘yes’ gave me exposure to senior people in the agency and client-side – never hurts to build your own brand while helping the business grow.
  2. Having a growth mindset – keep your ears open for new challenges your client needs to solve and be quick to showcase how your agency can help. Clients expect to see new things from agencies and be pushed out of their comfort zone. Don’t be shy – show them something new that your agencies offers that they might not have ever considered, but make it easy for them to buy by putting it in the context of their business – the advantage it gives them, the problem it will solve, how it’ll make it easier.
  3. Assumptions are the mother of all f-ups! Be open-minded and actively listen. There are plenty of pitfalls from bias to not asking enough questions. By not jumping to conclusions and asking questions you can save lots of time and get to the right answer quicker. I have at times wanted to jump to the answer without putting in the work – asking more questions or grounding a response in insights and evidence – I’ve been lucky to work with some incredibly talented strategy and insights professionals who have kept me in line! Be specific – insights aren’t enough you need to show the client the ‘so what’ – how will this approach help them succeed and what actions they need to take.
  4. Be graceful and treat other people the way you want to be treated. Don’t be scared to ask questions, put yourself forward and show your personality. Be kind and polite – don’t under-estimate how much this is appreciated or makes you more approachable. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re a push over! You can still give feedback or criticism, but it should mean people know that it’s professional and not personal (worth reading Radical Candour by Kim Scott if this is something you’re interested in). The same goes for receiving feedback don’t sulk try and see it through the other persons eyes or experience – the adage ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ can often help to process the feedback.
  5. Stay interested and keep learning – get involved in any learning opportunities given to you and do them with commitment. Seek out opportunities to be exposed to new things whether that’s being part of groups or societies outside of work, doing online training courses, sitting on a panel or speaking opportunities, or just reading about things which expand your understanding of business or yourself. Same applies for your clients, get to know them and their business – it means any responses you make are grounded in intelligence and you’ll feel much more confident. Enjoy it – work takes up a large chunk of your life so make the most of it!

Jess @ ADLIB: What is your take on the importance of role models?

Admiration for individuals and recognising what they do which is effective and impactful is an amazing way of crafting your own leadership style.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some amazing people both agency and client-side and have tried to use some of their approaches in my own work while adapting these to my personality.  I’m also inspired by the marketing and behaviour great and good from Seth Godin to Viv Groskop following their blogs, on LinkedIn, TED talks and listening to their podcasts.

Role models aren’t always people senior to us, look around you there will be loads of peers and colleagues of all ages who are bringing something different, fresh, and new to the workplace. Embrace all opinions and stay open minded. I recently attended a Nurture Network event and was inspired by their quote “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.