Amanda Farmer, Managing Director of VMLY&R London, feels she came back from maternity leave as a better leader and manager and advocates returners programmes for people after personal leave.
Amanda Farmer in her own words
"I’ve worked in advertising for 20 years, at some of the UK’s leading agencies and with amazing blue-chip clients, Nestlé, Diageo, Cadbury, Heineken and ASDA to name a few. As the Managing Director for VMLY&R, I am responsible for the strategic direction of the agency, commercial success and strengthening the local relationship with our key global and regional clients."
1. If your house was burning down, what one thing would you save (excluding people and pets)?
My iPhone and Bun Bun - my daughter’s soft toy bunny that comes everywhere with us.
2. What is your favourite word?
3. What do you wish you’d invented?
Nike+ Run Club.
4. If it wasn’t advertising, what career would you have chosen?
5. What have been your best and worst business decisions?
Best: The best one is easy: to become a mother. It genuinely made me a better leader and manager. It also gave me a new-found appreciation for how hard it is to return to work after taking time out - for whatever reason. I found returning after maternity leave incredibly hard, physically and mentally. I felt like I was starting a new job, although technically it wasn’t, and it put a lot of pressure on. Businesses don’t think about this enough. What is the point in investing in the fantastic young talent in our industry, setting them up to be the leaders of tomorrow, if we cannot provide the support they need to come back after a personal leave – and most of the time this affects women who have children? At VMLY&R we are developing a returners programme to help transition them back into the workplace. We are also a proud sponsor and active advocate of Creative Equals’ Returners Programme.
Worst: The worst one wasn’t as easy. I might have forgotten them all. A few years back, I had the opportunity to work with a leading Japanese business. I learnt everything I could on Japanese business etiquette ahead of our meetings, but I underestimated the business cultural differences between East and West. How the clients evaluated and bought big ideas and global campaigns were fundamentally different.
6. What is your most over told personal anecdote?
I’m known for being able to sleep anywhere – including infamously at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and slightly less amusingly, while being burgled.
7. What’s been the best thing you’ve read recently (article, book, tweet etc)?
"The Joy of Work" by Bruce Daisley. Everyone should read it. Then together we could create a better work environment for everyone.
8. What’s your most hated business jargon?
Let’s touch base. What does that even mean.
9. What advice would you give your younger self?
You get out what you put in.
10. What song or film has influenced you the most?
It’s not a film, but Jamie Oliver’s "Naked Chef" series inspired me to get creative in the kitchen, and I love nothing more than cooking up a feast for friends and family.
Quick fire questions