“Software engineering isn’t for girls.”
The first of my family to go to university, I was one of two women studying the subject at Sheffield and the only female in a team of coders at the MOD. Being told it wasn’t for girls was the determining factor in deciding to do it.
My other love, the law, wasn’t open–I hadn’t chosen the right A-Levels. So, I studied as a post-grad, alongside my job at Ogilvy & Mather, qualifying as a barrister five years later.
I believe passionately in the power of personal growth and unlocking potential. This drives me to make our agency and people shine in this crazy, exciting industry and I’m dedicated to leading work that grows team pride, collaboration and recognition for everyone. I love that my role allows me to do all this.
I believe this is what makes me a woman of tomorrow:
RESILIENCE & CONQUERING FEAR
Hired as PA at Ogilvy & Mather, I started on a steep, new learning curve. Seven character-defining years later, I left as New Business Director for Ogilvy Group UK across direct, PR, design, media, healthcare, advertising. I was part of a brilliant team changing a legacy mind-set and culture in the face of new entrepreneurial agencies, transforming reputation and culture through great wins including Philips, Expedia and Kronenbourg. I hired people better than me. I learnt the value of failure and unwavering resilience. I worked hard to earn my stripes.
INSPIRING & EMPOWERING
Seeing the need for agencies to make a step-change in a new digital age, I joined consultancy JFDI, nudging teams to regain their new business mojo with new attitudes and new capabilities. I trained 50+ industry professionals in modern new business skills, helped G2 win Costa Coffee, redefined Zenith’s marketing strategy and won Royal Caribbean International with Lexis.
Today, I lead a crack-team of our next-generation leaders empowered to drive culture at Geometry and I’m a mentor, both internally and with the IPA’s New Business Group.
In 2014 Geometry invited me on board with a task to build UK reputation and growth, fast. As WPP’s biggest ever merger we were the industry’s largest start-up, but with zero UK presence and no reason to step inside. In year one we had 1 pitch – since then we’ve won over 30 new clients, and I now sit on the EXCO.I’ve had to find new ways to market our brand as an agency for a new world. With a gifted team, I’ve helped flex the agency offer to deliver against briefs such as store-of-the-future, direct-to-consumer, eCommerce acceleration and more. Clients now come to us for innovative answers to new challenges.
Believing in the power of conversation, I’ve developed and launched Captivate, our thought leadership platform and written for The Drum.
This year I’m leading a pro-bono account for an ovarian cancer charity – something very close to a colleague’s heart and an incredible privilege.
My side-hustle? An online business to get experience running a company. It’s called Petit Hermite and scheduled to launch in March. I’m terrified!
Annette King, former CEO, Ogilvy UK: “An innovative leader with agility, optimism and charm. Gemma’s a natural woman of tomorrow!
Stephen Woodford, Advertising Association CEO: “Gemma brought new perspective, led us to evolve and win in a complex landscape.”
Michelle Whelan, CEO, Geometry UK: “A sharp strategic thinker with great capacity to lead people forward, Gemma is the beating heart of our agency"