Ideas + Opinions

International Women's Day 2021 with Hybrid Theory Female Leaders

08 March 2021

International Women's Day 2021 with Hybrid Theory Female Leaders

Today we join the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, and catch up with two of our female leaders at Hybrid Theory. 

Read about CMO Lei Sorvisto and Head of APAC Ines Martin, and their experiences working in advertising:

Tell us about how you got where you are today, and how you came to work at Hybrid Theory. What has your career journey in the advertising industry been like this far?

Lei: I was born in China and did my higher education in Finland. Since starting my career at Nokia, I have worked on the brand-side, looking after advertising and media across Finland, Singapore, and London. I joined Hybrid Theory in 2020 to simplify the complex and multifaceted digital marketing ecosystem.

Ines: I was born in Portugal and did most of my higher education in Lisbon. I started my career in ad-tech at a digital advertising company in Shanghai, after which I moved to London as part of Criteo and a few years later in 2015 joined HT (Affectv back then). I have since lived in Sydney, and moved to Singapore to build up Hybrid Theory’s APAC headquarters, and expand our presence in the region.


What is your attitude towards your work and career?

Lei: Openness to new opportunities and willingness to explore the unknown. Nothing’s going to come to you served on a silver platter – good opportunities just aren’t dressed that way – it’s all about how you take these opportunities as they come. My career can be symbolised by the one-way ticket of going after opportunities. I owe my whole international career, family, and personal development to this attitude. 

Ines: Let’s try it and see what happens. If there is a good opportunity, I tend to go for it and figure it out as I go. This has led me through several roles across different markets and helped me find more opportunities along the way.


Why is it important to have women in leadership positions within the advertising industry?

Lei: It’s really beneficial to business and society. In advertising, our challenge has always been landing a message with a diverse audience. If approached one-dimensionally, the message will not be as powerful as when approached by a group of people from different backgrounds, who can bring different viewpoints and angles to the discussion

Ines: Diversity is essential to bringing different perspectives, viewpoints, and solutions that a uniform team just wouldn’t. For that to happen, it’s important to give equal opportunity in terms of access to roles, promotions, mentors, development programs, and so on.

From your experience, have you noticed a gender diversity issue within leadership in the industry? 

Lei: Absolutely! I’ve worked in advertising for around 16 years, and have seen progression, however issues still exist. For example, I’m often the only female on management teams. As a female BAME leader, I accept that I need to work harder and speak louder to be heard.

Ines: We have seen progress over the years but the gap still exists at more senior & leadership positions in both advertising & tech related companies. There is still work to be done by organizations, leaders and society as a whole in making a conscious effort to provide equal opportunities 


What challenges have you experienced as a woman in the industry?

Lei: Becoming a mother is when many women face a hump in their career. As a mother of two children, my view is that it’s only a hump if you think of it as that. It’s all about your mindset. Instead, think of it as a developmental period that’ll give you qualities to be better at your job. For me, it taught me patience, tolerance, better coping mechanisms, and more effective management skills. 

Ines: I’ve never been overly conscious of being a woman in the industry. I try to do my work as best as I can and provide value to the company.


What can companies do to encourage more women to choose careers in advertising and make positive changes regarding the issue?

Lei: Female leaders need to work hard to encourage people around them, and seek alliance in their male colleagues. Working together to build a better working culture and standard for everyone involved. Organisations need to make an effort to normalise the representation of different minority groups. At HT, our CEO has been conscious of having a diverse management team, and I think that’s embedded into the organisation by design, and is reflected in our daily operations. 

Ines: There are a few things that can be done to encourage having more diverse teams. These can include  reviewing hiring, and recruiting processes, so that candidates are invited to interview and are evaluated solely based on their capabilities, not on their gender, race, religion, etc. Other areas include having flexible work policies to help employees balance professional and personal commitments . This can help attract people that talent that otherwise would be discouraged to apply, shows trust in your employees and can help improve productivity overall. 


Is there one thing in particular you would like to see improve within the next 5-10 years to make for better opportunities for women?

Lei: I hope that by the time my daughter’s generation sees the workforce, there isn’t a gender quota or pay-gap. I hope female leadership will be a normal part of society, and not something special that needs to be discussed separately. I want to get to a point where anyone of any background can get to these positions because they are the best for the job.

Ines: Similar to Lei, the ideal case would be in 5 to 10 years gender-gap no longer being a topic that needs constant discussion. Until that happens, there is still a lot of work to be done – ranging from education, internal policies, training – to get to a point where performance is measured equally regardless of gender/ race/ religion, etc.


Lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give to a woman wanting to enter the industry?

Lei: Be brave, keep trying, and believe in yourself! The biggest thing that has benefitted me is having courage. You have to have confidence in yourself. Even if you meet challenges, the winner is the one who gets up the last time. 

Ines: If there’s an opportunity, just go for it! Take the time to learn and continuously improve yourself to be competitive in your role, but also try to have fun along the way. It can be tough, but it’s a really exciting and interesting industry, so enjoy what you’re doing. You don’t have to know everything from the start, you’ll figure it out as you go.