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Women We Love: Olivia Hanlon

According to Statista, 197,000 people were employed in the advertising and marketing sub-sector of the UK's creative industries in 2020. In a booming industry, it's predominantly women who are taking interest in these job roles- and this is something Olivia Hanlon has noticed. In 2019, she founded online community and e-learning platform, Girls in Marketing, and it's safe to say she's had HUGE success with it.

With the ambition to secure even more young women in leadership roles in the world of marketing, Olivia is a true powehouse of female empowerment. We had the pleasure of chatting to Olivia about what inspired her to set up her platform and what advice she has for other young women. Take it away, Olivia...

Hey honey! Please can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them a little bit about what you do. 

I’m Olivia, the Founder and CEO of an online community and e-learning platform called Girls in Marketing. We are dedicated to educating and empowering both professional and aspiring marketers across the world. 

We provide learning resources (such as eCourses, programmes and an educational membership) as well as a female-driven community platform which the marketing industry really lacks. My team and I strive everyday to produce quality resources for marketers, and make the members of our community feel supported and confident throughout their marketing journeys. 

It’s our dream to see more women in leadership roles in the industry, more women freelancing in marketing and offer affordable and accessible marketing resources not currently offered for entry-level marketing professionals. 

Talk us through your journey- how did you get to where you are today in your career? 

It’s been a blessing to grow Girls in Marketing and its community from the ground up (it was never my intention to run a business, so I’m just kind of rolling with it!) 

The community began when I was working in a 9-5 marketing role. I lacked a sense of female support at work and there were no women to look up to in the leadership teams. Simply put, I decided to create the community I felt like I needed at the time. 

I think the reason Girls in Marketing is successful now, and operating as a fully-functioning business, is because it came from a really authentic place. We’re now a happy team of five and currently scaling our startup by exploring new and exciting projects that benefit marketers. I would have never have imagined my career would end up here. I’m in a constant state of “Pinch me. Is this a dream?!” 

We think it’s super important to set yourself both personal and professional goals. What are yours and how are you working towards achieving them? 

Setting goals is 100% the secret sauce to running your own business. They’re imperative, especially as so much of being a Founder relies on self-motivation and determination. I think it’s important that your personal and professional goals align too and they all stem from your truthful values. 

My goals are, and will continue to be, to fight for equality and representation in the marketing industry; offer more resources and opportunities and stay honest and humble throughout it all. 

We think you’re a hugeeeee inspiration- who is your biggest personal inspiration and what was it about them that made you stop and take note?

I don’t believe you have to be a huge influential or authoritative figure to be an inspiration. My biggest personal inspiration are all the women who show up to their job, and even those who don’t have the ability to, every single day without day. The women who work hard, fight to take up space in their industries and occasionally go unnoticed despite their amazing efforts. 

When I’m having bad days or have lots of important business decisions ahead of me, I’m always inspired by our community - and all the driven career women across the world - to do the right thing. (I hope that’s not too much of a cop out answer!) 

We absolutely LOVE what you do- what does it mean to you to be able to do what you love every day? 

There are no words! It’s completely life-changing to love what you do everyday, especially when you’re previously worked in roles you didn’t enjoy. 

The best part has to be hiring people who also love Girls in Marketing, and love what they do. That’s when my mind is really blown! Seeing people love your business almost as much as you… nothing can compare! 

So many people are nervous to break out and try something new- but you did. What piece of advice would you give to people who want to try something different but are too scared to take the risk? 

I know it’s easier said than done, but just don’t think about it. The minute I hovered over an idea and started thinking about it too deeply, I’d lose momentum and get myself twisted about it. The best thing you can do is respond to your own ideas proactively. Just do it. And figure out the rest later. 

What positive impact do you hope to have on those within your community? 

Without sounding like a broken record, I really hope people find a sense of support and empowerment. Girls in Marketing is a community first and foremost, so it’s really important to us that people feel as though they have a safe space to educate themselves and meet other professionals in the industry. We hope these connections will go further than just professional networking opportunities too. We’re committed to helping people build positive long-lasting connections in the marketing industry. 

We all know that life ain’t no breeze. What is one piece of advice you can offer to people in your community to help make things that little bit easier? 

Find an emotional support bubble. Whether it’s within your team at work or outside of your role, keep talking things through with people. No matter what you’re going through, someone has either lived through or is currently experiencing a similar situation as you. So be brave, bold and open with others.

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