Laura Nice on the power of feminine energy in business

What does it look like to be a mum of two little ones and run the biggest media agency in Australia?

How about running a company and using your power to make business stand for more?

And what is the impact of feminine energy in business?

Today I’m speaking with Laura Nice, Co-CEO of OMD Australia.

We talk about why she and Sian Whitnall created the Co-CEO position.

We talk about what got her to where she is now.

And a key bit of advice about how to progress.

On this chat I wanted to understand why she became a Co-CEO and how that role came to be.

She talks about how she sees her role in helping to drive sustainability for their clients.

And what a human centric organization looks like in her mind.

We hear what purpose means for OMD and the part it plays in the business. And the power of vulnerability.

Laura then leaves us with an incredible insight to what they are doing at their company, which is a fantastic idea, and something every company should think about doing. Absolute genius.

So grab your favorite beverage. Or throw on those running shoes and here is an inspiring chat with Laura.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:59:21
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 58 of TIE Unearthed. Today I’m speaking with Laura Nice, a mum of two little ones and co CEO of the largest media agency in Australia. Now I was super excited to talk to Laura for a few reasons. She, like me, understands only too well what it’s like to look after little people, run a company and actively work to contribute to a better world.

00:01:00:12 – 00:01:20:22
Philippa White
I wanted to hear more of her thoughts on being a female in a leadership role and how she sees it as an incredible opportunity to move towards an environment where expressing empathy and vulnerability no longer count against us. I’m a huge believer in the power of feminine energy in business, and I know she has a lot to say.

00:01:21:16 – 00:01:42:06
Philippa White
Also in her role, she has access to influential global and local brands who can really make a difference to people’s lives, providing she and her business set the right vision and have a clear strategy. She’s passionate about making the business stand for more and as a leader, inspiring other people to do the same. And I wanted to hear more of her thoughts on this.

00:01:42:23 – 00:01:58:16
Philippa White
And Laura took part in our TIE Accelerator program at the start of the year, and I was super keen to hear her takeaways from that. So there’s a lot here. So grab that favorite beverage or throw in those running shoes. And here’s Laura. Hi, Laura. It’s lovely to.

00:01:58:16 – 00:02:01:13
Philippa White
Have you with us. Thank you for joining TIE Unearthed.

00:02:02:14 – 00:02:03:16
Laura Nice
Thank you for having me.

00:02:04:03 – 00:02:10:08
Philippa White
Yeah, it’s great. It’s actually the first podcast that I’ve done with a glass of wine.

00:02:11:10 – 00:02:17:17
Laura Nice
Well, it would be wrong for me to have a glass of wine because it’s currently 9:30 a.m. in Australia. So.

00:02:17:17 – 00:02:18:15
Philippa White
Exactly.

00:02:18:15 – 00:02:20:10
Laura Nice
With a glass of water and a coffee.

00:02:20:19 – 00:02:46:14
Philippa White
Yeah, exactly. And yes, it is because it’s 830 at night in Brazil. And I thought, okay, while I wait for this to happen. I’ll pour myself a nice. They call it being veggie, which is a Portuguese green wine. So nice and fresh for this evening. Okay. I think to kick this off before we get into there’s lots of meaty issues that I’m wanting to to get from you because I just think you’re such an inspiration and you’re doing such incredible stuff.

00:02:46:14 – 00:03:06:09
Philippa White
And I see a lot of parallels with you and me actually with similar life stages and everything. And so it’s just great to get your perspective on things. But before we get there, perhaps you can just tell us a bit about you and your background before you came. A co-CEO of one of the biggest or if not the biggest media agency in Australia?

00:03:07:05 – 00:03:33:00
Laura Nice
Sure. Well, as you can tell by my accent, I am not Australian. I’m actually from Essex in the UK, so I feel even that alone. I’ve come a long way from the dizzy heights of Essex to obviously Sydney in Australia, which is an achievement in itself. I had an incredible career in London, loved it, had the best time and you know, worked hard, kind of worked very much in terms of a progressive career ladder.

00:03:33:00 – 00:04:06:01
Laura Nice
But during that time I actually took a bit of a sort of sidestep, which we’re now terming in our business a squiggly career, and it doesn’t always become Lidia. Sometimes you have personal moments that make you reflect and think differently about what you want out of your life more realistically. And it actually took me to a space which is quite interesting because I got to a position where I felt like I wasn’t learning from a capability perspective, and I became very good at talking to clients and bringing the right people together and building those relationships and being very collaborative.

00:04:06:07 – 00:04:27:10
Laura Nice
But then I’d sit in the room and kind of be like, Wow! At the people that I’d actually brought in to have the conversation. But I also felt a bit frustrated that it wasn’t me. Having that conversation is quite interesting because from a media perspective that that’s kind of the dynamic of where the industry has gone. You know, we’ve become lots of experts and actually it’s becoming much more complicated.

00:04:27:18 – 00:04:46:17
Laura Nice
So with that, I actually went back to Omnicom, which is where I’d been in Australia, but in the London office, and I just said to the interviewer or the head of people, I said, I just want to do something that’s really going to challenge me and give me a different perspective, but be really lateral about it. Like don’t look at my CV and go, this is the next logical step.

00:04:46:22 – 00:05:10:07
Laura Nice
And that’s how I actually ended up consulting for Analects, which was the data analytics division of Omnicom. I had no idea what they did culturally. It was so different to me. I was like the Lao person that came into the office and he had all these really super smart analyst sets and, you know, tech coders who had master’s degrees.

00:05:10:13 – 00:05:37:13
Laura Nice
And I was just very good at building relationships and kind of, you know, my my I guess my superpower was listening and understanding what they did, but then simplifying it for agencies and for clients and going, how are we going to tell that story? So actually it became an incredible opportunity. What I didn’t realize at the time, and I guess it depends who I’m speaking to, how I packaged this up, some people go, Wow, that’s a really smart move.

00:05:37:13 – 00:06:01:00
Laura Nice
That must have really accelerated your career. The honest truth was, I was just looking for something different. I was just looking for personal growth. And actually, I think that’s a really important thing to be true to what it is you’re personally looking for bother then going, What is the next thing that’s going to make my career fly? Because it then organically happened because I was passionate about it and had a genuine love for what I did.

00:06:01:00 – 00:06:25:17
Laura Nice
It then actually meant that I was approached again by my Sydney team to come and do the managing director role for OMD. So I actually relocated again by then and the title of OMD Boomerang because I went and I came back again and I now use that term fondly when I introduce out Boomerang In and I always say we only ever take the good ones back.

00:06:25:17 – 00:06:48:21
Laura Nice
And yeah, relocated back to Sydney. So I came back as MD and I came at possibly the worst time that I had never anticipated because I came into bushfires which then went into COVID flooding more COVID. So from a natural disaster perspective, the house was either full of smoke, it was either flooding going on around me or we.

00:06:48:21 – 00:06:49:14
Philippa White
Were virus.

00:06:49:14 – 00:07:23:15
Laura Nice
Isolation. So yeah. So in terms of throwing a few challenges and being in the deep end, my first role as a managing director of a agency was just challenge of the challenge of the challenge. So obviously I got through that and then the co-CEO became an opportunity as a result. That was during COVID? Yeah, kind of a year ago I got the promotion to co-CEO and that in itself was really interesting because my CEO left, went to a competitor and it opened up that opportune ity.

00:07:24:00 – 00:07:51:15
Laura Nice
And obviously the difference in that title was the co-op, which actually I’m most proud about because I do. Yeah, let’s go. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Well, we’ve Sean session witness says she was chief digital officer nationally for OMD and I was running the Sydney office and we actually came together because we were both interested in the role, but both identified that our strengths and each other’s strengths together were much more powerful than if we went up against each other.

00:07:51:21 – 00:07:57:06
Philippa White
So did you both together go for that role? With that in mind, that’s genius.

00:07:57:11 – 00:08:27:21
Laura Nice
Yeah, we went together. We gave our now both the context that where the industry has gone is so complex. And what you’re asking people to do now is fragmented and it’s complicated, and we’re having to distill that for our clients. And so there’s kind of like two speeds of economy. There’s the one that goes clients want the now, they want to know that if they’re launching a new campaign or launching a new product, that this agency can deliver that.

00:08:27:21 – 00:09:01:22
Laura Nice
So they can work with the networks, they can put a TV campaign down, they can show how audiences is driving the right channels, etc., etc.. At the same time, they’re looking at business transformation that going, how does my data, my tech, my analytics, all of that capability come together? And what does my two, three year horizon look like now as a CEO trying to balance all of that to get across 200 clients is vast and bringing the 600 people that we have in the agency across Australia together again is a huge job.

00:09:02:06 – 00:09:26:16
Laura Nice
So Shaun and I were quite honest about it. You’re asking one person to lead that and of course we have an incredible exact team who have been consistent through many, many years working together. And of course we have different roles and how we work together is really important. But the power that we can bring together in that leadership role is phenomenal because, you know, you know, you say it’s lonely at the top.

00:09:26:16 – 00:09:45:12
Laura Nice
Well, in our case, it’s not because we know each other every single morning before we go in and we’ll go. Right. What’s the priorities for today and for next week? And we’ll talk through what they are. And we’re very clear on our roles. So we have clarity of ROVs, but we have this shared responsibility. So her success is my success.

00:09:45:18 – 00:09:49:12
Laura Nice
Her fuck up is my fuckup. It doesn’t matter where we’re in this together.

00:09:49:14 – 00:09:52:20
Philippa White
Can you just explain in a nutshell what you do?

00:09:52:23 – 00:10:12:04
Laura Nice
Sure. This is always the hardest question because it’s like, how do I tell my mum and dad what I do? I’m still not sure I’ve cracked it. Well, I usually start with is we don’t make the ads okay. A little bit said if there’s advertising agencies within Omnicom so I work as part of Omnicom which is a US based network.

00:10:12:12 – 00:10:36:12
Laura Nice
Within that is Omnicom Media Group, which is a number of different media agencies. And as OMD we look after communications for our clients. So we will have clients like McDonald’s. Telstra is the biggest telco in Australia. Coles is the biggest supermarket in Australia. Qantas, as you can imagine, is being a really interesting journey to be on right now, in fact, but also during COVID.

00:10:36:21 – 00:11:03:02
Laura Nice
So for us it’s about how we work with those client partners in identifying what is the business problem or opportunity that they’re trying to solve. Now, what’s so interesting in the 20 years that I’ve worked in media is our role has significantly evolved. So it used to be about planning and buying, so we would go, there is a marketing objective, we need to hit a target, we need to deliver sales.

00:11:03:08 – 00:11:23:10
Laura Nice
So here is a robust idea. And here’s the media plan, whether it’s TV, digital cinema and press, and we will go and trade that for you. And then there’s an efficiency conversation. Yes. Now we have all of this data and we have all of this technology. And it’s about how do we work with the likes of Google? How do we work with matter?

00:11:23:16 – 00:11:52:01
Laura Nice
How are we looking at things like metaverse? What does Metaverse now mean for our clients? Should we be in that space? Should we be in that space? What does sustainability mean for our clients? And actually, what’s a reputational kind of strategy for that and how we look at it from a comms perspective. So it’s a it’s a particularly strategic role because you’re looking at brand reputation, but you’re also looking at how we’re delivering products and how it all adds up to a more macro grow, I guess business opportunity.

00:11:52:01 – 00:12:11:18
Laura Nice
So the same for us as OMD. We are what we call omnichannel, so we don’t have people just trading in digital or TV or cinema. We have deliberately, seven years ago looked at an omnichannel approach because people don’t go, I’m going to look at an ad on TV and then I’m going to look at it here. They just live.

00:12:12:03 – 00:12:32:17
Laura Nice
They are people experiencing life every day. Correct. So how do we use our data and technology to really understand audiences so that we have a audience of people first approach to how we media plan and then by and that strategic lens of how it all comes together to deliver business transformation for our clients.

00:12:32:22 – 00:12:53:21
Philippa White
And obviously in the sort of from the context of TIE and I know that you’re very familiar with tie, there’s a few things that sort of caught me. And I think from the point of view of your access to these brands, local and international ones, and they’re super influential. And we know that a lot of these brands are wanting to make a difference.

00:12:53:21 – 00:13:10:16
Philippa White
And I know this is something you talked about sustainability. I know that this is something that’s also really, really important to you. What do you see your role is in making business stand for more, be it your business or helping your brands as well? How does that come together?

00:13:10:22 – 00:13:35:19
Laura Nice
Yeah, there’s a couple of things in that for me. I think a lot of it is education and we are very honest that we are not experts in sustainability, but we’re learning as well. So what we can do is connect brands together, but we can also connect brands with the right people. So this is maybe two years ago we did it in COVID, a livestream with David Ritter, the CEO.

00:13:36:00 – 00:13:36:18
Laura Nice
Oh, okay.

00:13:36:22 – 00:13:37:06
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:13:37:11 – 00:13:56:10
Laura Nice
So who better to come and talk about sustainability than David? And we did an interview with him, so we asked him questions, but then we also did our own research as well. So again, having access to data, to audience, having the capability within our agency. So we have a marketing intelligence team who actually do a lot of focus groups content.

00:13:56:14 – 00:14:19:09
Laura Nice
So to be able to then bring that actual customer or consumer viewpoint together. So marrying that up with David Rettig as the expert and also the customer consumer opinion. So sometimes it’s about giving them the information, sometimes because we work with such wonderful and a lot of them are local Australian brands that have mentioned matters, but there’s a lot of local brands as well.

00:14:19:17 – 00:14:47:10
Laura Nice
It’s about how we share what we’re doing across different brands to inspire but also pertinent potentially connects those leaders together as well. So we host events where we’re having that robust conversation, but also we are the largest media agency, so we trade the largest amount of media, so that’s across all channels. So as I said in our case, seven, nine and ten of the big networks matter could be Google, could be Amazon.

00:14:47:10 – 00:15:05:16
Laura Nice
So our role is really influential in how they show up as well. And one of the things that we are doing at the moment is a audit. So again, this is not about telling our clients where to spend their money. This is about providing them with the right information. So it’s a continuation of what we look at as brand responsibility.

00:15:05:16 – 00:15:28:23
Laura Nice
So again, with brand responsibility will advise where are the safe and right places to be in. And we set out the parameters that we believe that those partners should be paying in. And if they don’t fulfill that, then a conversation happens. Or we pull advertising out on behalf of our clients because it’s not the right place if there’s inappropriate content, for example, and our advertising is next to that.

00:15:28:23 – 00:15:49:09
Laura Nice
So we’re very quick to respond to that and very proactive. So it’s the same for sustainability. It’s about speaking to those media partners, understanding the practices and policies that they have in place. And so we’ve got a really long list of things that we’re auditing them on, and then we will share that with our clients and say, you know, if anything, we’re sustainability.

00:15:49:09 – 00:16:10:10
Laura Nice
That’s a sacrifice to to be had here. If you want to carbon offset, you have to pay for that. If we highlight that one media partner is not sustainable is another, would you spend less money with them and then read about it to someone who has more sustainable practices? But that’s going to impact your reach or your, you know, so they’re the sorts of conversations that we’re going to start having.

00:16:10:10 – 00:16:14:15
Laura Nice
And that’s the impact that we can have, is the power of bringing those brands together.

00:16:14:15 – 00:16:37:05
Philippa White
Yeah, it’s really interesting. And it’s this ever evolving landscape, isn’t it? I mean, even in the area of TIE in our briefs and what NGOs are asking for, it’s it’s just evolving at record speed because what the corporates are doing when we talk about ESG is, for example, what the corporates are looking for and how the NGOs can help.

00:16:37:05 – 00:16:55:21
Philippa White
NGOs are wanting to know how they can be part of that conversation, but they don’t know how to have that conversation. But then also the corporates don’t really know how to kind of find them and what that can look like. And it’s and I just wonder, because we just had Ken purpose played a big part of the work and speeches and, and you talked about Greenpeace and Greenpeace were there.

00:16:55:21 – 00:17:23:20
Philippa White
And for our listeners, there certainly was a protest from Greenpeace. They’re talking about the oil industry and the ad industry is also at risk of being more about the show than real action pushing purpose when having clients that peddle petrol, which I thought was an I read that somewhere that’s not my I didn’t put those words together but I think it’s a really pertinent issue and something that’s valid now.

00:17:23:20 – 00:17:51:17
Philippa White
And I think it’s interesting with ESG because there’s so many companies box ticking and chasing ESG. And I just wonder about real change. It’s about impact. It’s not about box ticking. It’s not about the show when you’re doing something else behind the scenes. And as someone who genuinely cares, I just wondered, what does this look like in your mind and how do you, as a co CEO of the biggest media agency in Australia, grapple with this?

00:17:51:17 – 00:18:13:08
Laura Nice
Yeah, it’s a bigger question, isn’t it, from I guess there’s a lot of nuances in that. And if I think about we’ve got some clients who from a sustainability point of view are never going to be particularly purist in how this sustainable practice because of the industry that they work in. And I think we have the conversations about whether or not we work with certain clients for that reason.

00:18:13:13 – 00:18:33:00
Laura Nice
What I think is interesting though, is some of the clients that I’ve gone on, I just don’t feel comfortable with. When you actually understand more about the sustainable practices and the roadmap that they’re looking at, you go, Well, they’re not particularly sustainable, but they do have a roadmap and they genuinely do have a passion to make a difference.

00:18:33:00 – 00:18:55:14
Laura Nice
So I would rather and I realize this is quite a conflicting answer and some people will be completely against it. But I would rather work with a company like a petrol company, who is then looking at what are the small incremental positive changes that they can make and we can be part of that journey. I think I know I’m going to work with them because, you know, we were in McDonalds, of course, you know, Happy Meals.

00:18:55:20 – 00:19:14:14
Laura Nice
So one of the questions, how do we get plastic Happy Meal toys out of Happy Meals? If I can be part of that total, if I can take part of that and remove them and you know, we’ve got the choice of books. I’m Happy Meal toys. So that’s progress. You know, how how do you be part of those sorts of conversations to make a genuine difference then just kind of get, well, we’re not going to work with them.

00:19:14:21 – 00:19:39:15
Laura Nice
If there is a partner that we we work with and we go, that genuinely isn’t a real desire to make a difference. And again, six of us doesn’t sit with us in a way that feels right for our values. Then there’s not the right partner and we have walked away, whether that be from sustainability perspective or also for our people as well, because purpose for our people is what’s going to not only attract talent, but also retain talent.

00:19:39:23 – 00:20:08:05
Laura Nice
And if they feel that they’re showing up and working on a client that isn’t doing the right thing for people, for culture, whatever that may be, then that’s not going to be motivating for them either. So it’s such a is a kind of spider web that comes out of this, isn’t there? There’s so many models and outfits. But yeah, that’s my kind of view on it is yes, we do have petrol companies and we do have a mining company and I’ve taken time to consider about whether they’re the right partners and actually the people that we’re working with brilliant.

00:20:08:10 – 00:20:28:03
Laura Nice
And they are really smart, progressive chief marketing officers and I want to be part of that conversation and that journey with them rather than let them go somewhere else and not push them and challenge them. And that’s what we can do. We can challenge them. And if we feel that they’re doing a campaign that’s greenwashing, then is quite easy for us to have that conversation.

00:20:28:03 – 00:20:45:10
Laura Nice
Because what do we do? We go back to the data, we go back to the audience data and we say, Right, this is what audiences want. They want positive impact and change culturally. This is what we’re seeing. These are the trends, the macro trends. If you go ahead, this is the possible implications of this and this is how it’s going to reputationally impact your brand.

00:20:45:19 – 00:20:49:07
Laura Nice
So they’re very open to those conversations because we can ground it in data.

00:20:49:08 – 00:21:09:05
Philippa White
Yeah, and that’s really interesting. And I actually just today I posted something around what you said of, you know, everyone left the ad industry or if everyone left the private sector, then it’s never going to change. And I’m a great believer in if you have an understanding of how to make things better and also what needs to happen to make things better.

00:21:09:05 – 00:21:27:06
Philippa White
If you can be a driving force of that, however that is, then that is starting to make the steps to making the world a better place. And that’s your ability to be able to do that. That’s where you can shine. And I am a huge believer in that. And I couldn’t agree more with what you said and you touched on it.

00:21:27:06 – 00:21:40:23
Philippa White
And I want to now go there about what is a human centric organization in your mind, because you touched on your people. And I know that this is something that is really important to you. What does that look like?

00:21:41:00 – 00:22:07:03
Laura Nice
Well, I can tell you what it tangibly looks like, because we’ve just taken 622 days to the Gold Coast to do our conference that was again seeing people physically connect. And the kind of three pillars that we were looking at was connect, inspire and celebrate. And seeing those people come together and connect was incredible. And I think a lot of people talk about people first and people at the heart of their agency.

00:22:07:11 – 00:22:28:14
Laura Nice
We actually at that conference, Shaun and I presented our evolved ambition and we were quite open about it. We were like, We’ve had this ambition for a long time, but we looked at it again with fresh eyes, and when it’s become a bit of an identity, it’s about performance, it’s about integrity and transparency. But it was very much about our clients and what the thing that was missing was our people.

00:22:28:18 – 00:22:49:17
Laura Nice
It was almost that we were subservient to clients, we were client servicing, and that’s the way it had been and it served us really well. But we were like, if we put people at the heart of this ambition, then actually that is empowering our people to grow. It’s then resulting in our clients businesses growing because you’ve got people leaning into new capability.

00:22:49:17 – 00:23:13:15
Laura Nice
They’re motivated, they’re at the heart of what we’re doing. But where we evolved, our transparency was into purpose. So we said, for us in this, in Australia, transparency has always been important and that’s what stands us apart. Quite a few years ago was quite murky in terms of how people were making their money. We put everything on top of the table and went, This is exactly how clients to it, to the client.

00:23:13:15 – 00:23:33:12
Laura Nice
So this is how we make our money completely transparent. So when the client sees it, they might go, Well, your fee seems higher. And we’re like, Yeah, because we’re making no money at all in any of our trading, for example, or any of our tech costs, is completely transparent. So the working meeting that they get is significantly higher once they unpack it.

00:23:33:20 – 00:23:52:13
Laura Nice
So we’re very open about that and it’s industry recognized, but for us it was how do you evolve transparency? And for us it was about purpose. So we’ve actually created a purpose charter which we launched last week. It has an inclusivity. Well, we’re starting to apply it to our clients and we want to have 100% of our clients signed up to this purpose charter.

00:23:52:20 – 00:24:20:11
Laura Nice
So ultimately how are we looking at things like inclusivity? So how are we looking at LGBTQ eye audiences? How are we looking at indigenous audiences? Because how we approach those different audiences will be very, very different than if we just had a holistic approach. And for our people, purpose means lots of different things. So it may be being part of one of the sustainable practices that we are doing as a business because we need to make sure that we’re sustainable.

00:24:20:11 – 00:24:46:09
Laura Nice
And the new offices that I gave you a virtual tour of earlier are exactly that sustainable. You know, we’ve moved into a modern office that enables us to be able to carbon neutralize, to use rainwater, for example, to empower the toilets and the washrooms and the kitchens. So again, that’s really important to us to make sure that we are not taking away from the new community, that we’ve now become a part of.

00:24:46:10 – 00:25:09:09
Laura Nice
So yeah, I think the purpose part of it’s really important that we always come back to are we making the right decisions for our people? And I would say that is more important now than ever before. What we found during COVID and we have the Media Federation of Australia, which is our industry board, they are seeing increased churn rates of people leaving.

00:25:09:09 – 00:25:32:22
Laura Nice
But what they’re seeing worryingly is increased percentages of people leaving the industry. We need to ensure that if you come to work in the media industry, not only are you really enjoying what you’re doing, that you’re working on clients that progressive and that you can have a contribution and an impact. But also outside of that, we can support your growth and your individual purpose across our business.

00:25:33:07 – 00:25:59:10
Laura Nice
So that’s a big one of the girls in our team feel for her. Her husband is Indigenous, so she has joined the MFA board in terms of supporting the and I and she actually did out she introduced a welcome to country when we were at SeaWorld and introduced the indigenous we had an indigenous man and a lady who came out and actually talked about the indigenous communities, the clan of that area, and did a welcome to country.

00:25:59:18 – 00:26:16:15
Laura Nice
And that was a really powerful moment to see one of our own ideas stand up and talk from the heart about what this means. Think so for her. That’s fulfilling her purpose in a way. And she said to me several times, and I always say to thank you, that was incredible. I feel so proud to have you as part of the agency.

00:26:16:15 – 00:26:20:19
Laura Nice
And she’s just thought, I’m so proud to work for an agency that allows me to go and do either.

00:26:20:24 – 00:26:25:23
Philippa White
Cares that you understand. So that’s even something that’s important to her internally.

00:26:25:23 – 00:26:42:10
Laura Nice
And, and, you know, I use her as an example, but she’s been with us for about four years now and she’s just taken on a new elevated role. She’s really succeeding. She’s really culturally vibrant in terms of the business because she’s motivated. Yeah, she’s being fulfilled in terms of her purpose.

00:26:42:10 – 00:27:00:10
Philippa White
Listening to you talk, you are a huge inspiration. One just the fact that you are a woman who is the co-CEO of the largest media agency in Australia is a big deal and you’re a mum of two little ones, so I think they’re similar age to mine. So how old are they?

00:27:00:10 – 00:27:05:22
Laura Nice
So I’ve got to offer is five and Betsy is eight and a half.

00:27:06:03 – 00:27:28:14
Philippa White
That’s right. Okay. So a little. Yeah. So I’ve got an eight year old and an 11 year old and you’ve got the five and eight year old. Exactly. So I mean, you know what it’s like juggling a young family. And you’re also aware of the drain of female talent due to childcare demands, and yet feminine energy in business can result.

00:27:28:14 – 00:27:55:04
Philippa White
And I feel like we’re hearing this can result in a more balanced and integrated organization. We understand a lot of what humans need, and there is data, I’m sure that you can find it being at OMD, but you know, there is data to prove that women in higher positions at companies do make these companies, particularly good. So I’m just wondering, you know, what are your thoughts on this?

00:27:55:04 – 00:28:09:12
Philippa White
What can you tell an aspiring female corporate leader who is out there listening, who might want to have a family? How have you made it work? What are your thoughts on the sort of the drain of female talent, but also how are you making it work for your people?

00:28:10:05 – 00:28:46:20
Laura Nice
Yeah. So again, you give me all the big questions. I’ve got a glass of wine, so I don’t know. I also got to go. My, my coffee and it’s run out. Yeah that’s some even hearing you say that is quite confronting question as well because on the real plan and my, my downfall is I’m a perfectionist and so what I’m having to grapple with is not being so hard on myself as well because that can sometimes be my biggest downfall is I’m not doing everything and I have to sometimes have a chat with myself and go, you’re not going to be able to do everything and it’s not going to be perfect.

00:28:46:20 – 00:29:06:12
Laura Nice
And you know what balls are going to drop. But that’s okay because you did 90% and you managed to get two children to school dressed. So kind of dress and head didn’t come into it today and I forgot to wear my mascara last week, but that’s fine. You kind of get there. Yeah, and I think it’s an acceptance of that.

00:29:06:12 – 00:29:11:21
Philippa White
So I love that and I can relate totally.

00:29:11:21 – 00:29:30:21
Laura Nice
Which was working with Home from home was easier because you could only dress in the, you know, from the top. Yeah. And you could almost. I found that I’d start in the morning on it progressively get smarter throughout the day because that quickly going brush my hair or jacket on depending on what meeting I had. I think for me there’s a couple of things to this.

00:29:30:21 – 00:29:48:11
Laura Nice
I am very vulnerable in in how I live. I am an empathetic person. I used to say I’m a bit of an overshare and I’ve stopped saying that because actually that has quite often become my superpower, because it means I can often relate to people. And when I’m going through a tough time, personally, I’m quite open about it.

00:29:48:11 – 00:30:06:02
Laura Nice
I won’t come in and be all kind of like, No, no, no, it’s fine. I actually find that if I talk to people about it, not only does it help me, but people often get to know what I’m feeling the same. And, you know, whatever, you’re human and you’re human. Exactly. And you build communities as well. And then you have the support of each other.

00:30:06:02 – 00:30:25:17
Laura Nice
And for me, that’s really important. And then not always female communities. In fact, one of the guys on our ExCo, if I’ve got an idea or a thought or a concern, I often go and talk to him. And I was thinking about him last night because we were both at dinner and we both had to leave to go and relieve the babysitter because his wife’s a doctor.

00:30:26:02 – 00:30:49:06
Laura Nice
And so he actually picks up the children at 3:00 every single day. And we had a meeting and he was like, Sorry, I’ve got to go. It’s 3:00. I’m picking up my children. And then he’ll log on and he’ll work remotely. And I think that’s brilliant because it’s not always on the females. He has to lead the way, and I actually really am quite inspired by him because I’m like, it’s quite rare to see a guy do that.

00:30:49:06 – 00:31:14:07
Laura Nice
And that’s a real shame. But I think they haven’t had to because in some scenarios I’ve had while staying at home or working part time and it’s been a traditional family setup and I think I talked about quickly careers and I’ve been referencing squiggly families lately because there isn’t the traditional set up. In fact, you’ve got, you know, Shaun’s husband works as well, so that often the trouble is real for them as it is for me who’s a single parent.

00:31:15:00 – 00:31:39:19
Laura Nice
And I’m juggling that as well. Whether or not I can do the events after work or whether I can work late because I’m working on a pitch, but you’re constantly having to juggle and prioritize. But one of my clients, when I first came here, I mean, some really good advice and that was you need a village. And that village was quite scarce for me when I first got here because I had no family and I was rebuilt in friends again.

00:31:39:19 – 00:31:55:08
Laura Nice
A lot of my friends had moved back to the UK who had made in Australia. So, you know, I have an incredible nanny that supports me two days a week who has become part of the family. She’s like our surrogate grandma and her husband is the granddad, so that’s great. And she an also an emotional support for me.

00:31:55:08 – 00:32:10:19
Laura Nice
When she sees me running around, she’ll kind of help me. But also it’s how you build the relationships in your local communities but also at work. So people have got your back and if you go, I simply can’t do this. Some of some who are always going to I’ve got it, I’ll do it. You do this, you do what you need to do.

00:32:11:03 – 00:32:36:21
Laura Nice
So I think that vulnerability becomes really important. And I think to your point, I love that term about feminine energy. I think that vulnerability makes people go almost a sigh of relief. And it’s okay. It’s actually okay. We are doing an incredible amount. I sometimes have quite honest conversations with the men in the office, and I have one last week with one of the guys that reports into me, made a comment about how he puts food on the table and blah, blah, blah.

00:32:36:21 – 00:32:52:05
Laura Nice
And I was like, You are speaking to the wrong person. I put food on the table at an umpire at my daughter’s netball match. I make the lunchboxes every night. I drop the kids off. I do the the the the the the the and he kind of didn’t know what to say. I kind of felt bad after because I thought he just hasn’t experienced that.

00:32:52:11 – 00:33:10:05
Laura Nice
But actually he can experience it second hand through us and it might give him a bit of a time to reflect and and potentially support his wife in a different way or support other women in the office in a different way. So I think there’s a real educational role that if we do it in a way that’s supportive and inclusive of men not going up against the and.

00:33:10:08 – 00:33:11:13
Philippa White
I couldn’t agree more. Yeah.

00:33:11:24 – 00:33:30:19
Laura Nice
Angola, I hear you. And maybe in that instance I got it wrong because it definitely sparked enough. And I looked back and I thought, yeah, I should probably vote him in on that conversation. But again, you learn and go, how do you how do you have that more kind of inclusive conversation? And I think we have a really good reputation for flexibility.

00:33:31:00 – 00:33:57:21
Laura Nice
We have our parents. We do parental leave for both the dad and the mum. We actually have a lot of couples. We work in media that does. Yes. So we have a lot we have a lot of OMD babies, as we call them. Yeah. So we’re supporting the husband and the wife in the same office. So across the group, sometimes we have kids in the office, sometimes we have dogs in the office, sometimes we have both in the office and you just don’t know from one day to the other what’s going to happen.

00:33:58:06 – 00:34:10:24
Laura Nice
And you’ll see a parent walking in, looking a little bit, kind of, you know, 9:00, really overwhelmed with a three year old going. Childcare closed this morning because a COVID case or you know, and you’re like, that’s fine.

00:34:10:24 – 00:34:12:24
Philippa White
We’ll make it work or make it work.

00:34:12:24 – 00:34:22:01
Laura Nice
It doesn’t matter. And then that child will be taken downstairs to sit with dad for the afternoon. And again, it comes back to people first organization doesn’t.

00:34:22:02 – 00:34:47:24
Philippa White
Totally you know, it’s interesting, I think I mean, so much of what you said really resonated. But one of the big things you said was vulnerability. And I just think it’s interesting. I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with a couple of different teens. And one thing I find interesting is that feeling of needing to have everything perfect before speaking to the organization.

00:34:47:24 – 00:35:10:02
Philippa White
So the you know, the teen kind of feels this necessity to have all their ideas in place before I talk to the organization, I keep having these conversations saying, no, the trick is to work with the organization. The only way that you’re even going to get to whatever that shiny idea is is having that fluid conversation. You don’t have to have all the answers, be vulnerable, say that you don’t know.

00:35:10:02 – 00:35:25:16
Philippa White
And it’s really interesting because I had one individual and he’s really senior. He contacted me separately and he just said, you know, I’m just a bit concerned. I feel like I need to have the answers. I feel like I need to have this all kind of sorted and I just don’t really know. And I said, But just be vulnerable.

00:35:25:18 – 00:35:39:17
Philippa White
Be vulnerable. It’s okay. That ability to be vulnerable and actually know that it’s okay and you can still be a you can still run the show. But having that vulnerability opens people up to wanting to connect more with you.

00:35:39:18 – 00:36:03:02
Laura Nice
I think women are very good communicators and so you almost get support and backing to be vulnerable. And I think if we again, coming back to inclusivity, if we can encourage men to also be vulnerable and you, you know, not put a mask up to drop the mask and be who you are. Yeah. And that becomes you get to much deeper conversations once you’re vulnerable with a client as well, you say, or a partnership.

00:36:03:09 – 00:36:14:07
Laura Nice
I don’t know the answers, but I’d love to hear from you because I reckon you’d have a really good point of view. How empowering is that for them as well? Like I just in particular love to kind of share their expertize totally.

00:36:14:11 – 00:36:36:07
Philippa White
I’m really keen to talk to you a little bit about your experience because you were involved in January of this year and TIE is all about going from can to do and it’s a celebration of doing, of impact painting, a future of immediate action. I think it comes to to what we’re talking about of, you know, there’s a lot of kind of dreaming.

00:36:36:13 – 00:36:56:00
Philippa White
Wouldn’t it be great if we could? I’d really like to be able to make a difference all that would be good to be able to make that change. But I don’t know if that’s me. I guess I have to wait for the the promotion or I have to wait for the entire like no, it can be any background, any seniority, a woman or man from wherever it is in a very short amount of time.

00:36:56:00 – 00:37:09:00
Philippa White
You can make incredible things happen and you can be a driver of that change. And you applied for accelerator, which is just amazing. And I just love to know, you know, what did you hope to accomplish and what came out of the experience from your point of view?

00:37:09:02 – 00:37:29:22
Laura Nice
Yeah, it’s a good reflection actually, because the reason I did it is because I feel very privileged working in the media industry. For me it was about how to apply my capability, my experiences to a genuine environmental problem. And in our case it was obviously the Marshall Fund. So that was working to drive the regional funding and then the partnerships for the Passion of the Reef.

00:37:30:08 – 00:37:52:08
Laura Nice
So also is something I didn’t really know. I knew about the Great Barrier Reef, but I didn’t really know about the area there. And and that in itself is really interesting to understand. And to your point, listen to local people. And I think it’s fascinating because you were saying to us, don’t keep trying to go in with the answers because we do that all the time in our job.

00:37:52:08 – 00:38:15:24
Laura Nice
We go in with what we think is a pre-determined answer, and then we try and rationalize it and kind of come out with the solution to the that we are. I was right all along. What was really interesting about this is we were usually wrong all the way through, and I quite like that because we as a collective team learned was that we didn’t have any of the answers and actually that was okay.

00:38:15:24 – 00:38:33:01
Laura Nice
What was important, was to listen and to explore. And I think that became probably the learning that I took out of it. Then what I thought I was going to come in and apply. So I thought was going to come in and go, okay, I’ve got all this experience and capability and I can help them devise a strategy or a plan.

00:38:33:01 – 00:38:34:06
Laura Nice
And here’s the answer.

00:38:34:06 – 00:38:35:22
Philippa White
I mean, you guys did because we.

00:38:35:22 – 00:38:36:09
Laura Nice
Got to.

00:38:36:09 – 00:38:36:21
Philippa White
In the.

00:38:38:01 – 00:38:46:23
Laura Nice
Parts. What was interesting was we have to remember we had that key point where we were literally all of us going, I don’t know what to do next. I don’t know. I feel like we.

00:38:46:23 – 00:38:49:00
Philippa White
Have deployed the best.

00:38:49:03 – 00:39:05:24
Laura Nice
Oh, I hated it because it made me so uncomfortable. And I think that was the that was a really good thing for us to be in, in an uncomfortable position, because we’d be talking the four of us who were on the team going, I don’t think we’re doing it right and we haven’t done this. We haven’t done that.

00:39:05:24 – 00:39:24:06
Laura Nice
And then you’d come in and go, Now you’re doing everything right. You’re having the right conversations. And what they’re taking from this is incredible. And we were like, Really? Yeah. So I think you kind of underestimate what you can actually bring and partner. And the learning we have was not to go in and go, this is how you should do it.

00:39:24:15 – 00:39:36:15
Laura Nice
Yeah, it’s exactly what you said. The beginning is what can we do to help you and and to listen to what it is that they need? And I think that’s really powerful. And that can be applied to anything.

00:39:36:15 – 00:39:38:21
Philippa White
Anything. Was there a story that stood out for you?

00:39:38:22 – 00:39:55:24
Laura Nice
Yeah, I was thinking about this again today. I went through the nights. That was a challenge, wasn’t it? Trying to not only find the locals, but actually set up a time and then obviously we had to cancel English and then they canceled and wow. So we did get there. But for us, there was a story and it doesn’t resonate.

00:39:55:24 – 00:40:19:09
Laura Nice
What you’ve been saying, actually, Philip, is that they were saying local people are used to having their culture stolen and then repurposed by people, brands and corporations. So it comes back to your point about sustainability and how do we work with communities to make things better rather than try and take over or own it. And I think that you remember the rum based piece it was called.

00:40:19:09 – 00:40:21:06
Laura Nice
Yes. What’s it called? Give it Fatih.

00:40:21:15 – 00:40:24:09
Philippa White
That I can’t remember. I really can’t remember. Yeah.

00:40:24:09 – 00:40:45:22
Laura Nice
So the local people that we spoke to spoke about it. So I did those soaps, The Roots and the Herbs in Rum. And then this was made by the local people of the Caribbean coast. And then this gift is then used medicinally and you have different compositions for men or women. So pretty incredible. Yeah, but they also use it recreationally and I’m sure have a good time doing the shots.

00:40:46:12 – 00:41:06:09
Laura Nice
But the story that they told us is that they are having a legal battle to the rights of using the name because going back to the earlier point is that culture is being stolen by brands and people and corporations that are coming in and taking that. And you go, that’s, that’s not anyone else to come in and take that as part of their local fabric.

00:41:06:19 – 00:41:26:01
Laura Nice
And that’s actually having a positive impact on on their people. So you hear stories like that that are disheartening. But again, it goes back to how can we advise brands to do the right thing and use data or conversations or focus groups to be able to inform how we do the right thing?

00:41:26:07 – 00:41:45:03
Philippa White
That’s really interesting. I had a podcast with Whitney Klapper, who’s the head of Impact at Patagonia, and she’s a friend of mine, and I asked her, What is the answer for corporate? What, where is Patagonia going? What’s the future? And she said, To be honest, to get out of the way, we need to get out of the way.

00:41:45:07 – 00:42:03:02
Philippa White
We need to ask. And the key to a human centric organization, the key for us is we need to talk to the people who are on the front lines of the communities that we’re working in. And we need to understand them and we need to ask them what the solutions are because they know they’re on the front lines of of climate change, that the front lines of what’s happening.

00:42:03:10 – 00:42:24:00
Philippa White
And we need to understand, and that’s the only way that we’re going to get there. And to find the answers, they can help us find them. That’s stuck with me, because I just think any company actually, if you go to the communities and you ask people what’s not working, what’s working, how do you feel? If you are open to that?

00:42:24:03 – 00:42:37:11
Philippa White
You can find so many solutions and you can also find out what’s not working, and then to figure out what are the solutions to then have your clients and your customers connect with you. And it sounds simple. It’s it’s not.

00:42:37:20 – 00:42:58:21
Laura Nice
Totally. And I think to do all of that, you say as you say, it’s not easy to do that. But if you go in with an open mind and the right intention and you genuinely listen without a predetermined agenda, you will get to potentially a different place. And for us sometimes it was uncomfortable, but we had to kind of lean into that and not then try and mold it into something that we were already trying to do.

00:42:58:21 – 00:43:17:13
Laura Nice
So yeah, yeah. I think that, you know, Patagonia, an incredible brand and rightfully in that space. But I think, you know, getting out of the way is very good advice. And I think, yeah, listening to a bit of what we do in this business come back to people. Basically, if we’re making the decisions at the top for our people, that’s not the right thing.

00:43:17:23 – 00:43:39:12
Laura Nice
One of the things we did is we created what we Exit Next, which was it’s seven people nationally who are of sort of mid-level and they come to the exact meetings and we give them a brief and they go out to agency and they solve our business problems by speaking to the people on the front line who are living it day in, day out, and they sit back and challenge us.

00:43:39:12 – 00:43:55:11
Laura Nice
Yeah, we’re really open to that. We’re like, okay, we didn’t think about that, but of course you didn’t because you’re in your forties and you’ve got your families and you’ve got this, this and this, and we’re all in our twenties living a very different life and experience. Yeah, and that’s a really healthy reminder to have those sorts of conversations.

00:43:55:20 – 00:44:12:21
Philippa White
That is such a good takeaway from this. I hope everyone got that. That’s genius or we have come to the end. I just. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners? And I just wonder if there’s a quote that perhaps sums up our chat today.

00:44:12:24 – 00:44:27:24
Laura Nice
It’s more about the advice I give people, and it comes back to the point I made about vulnerability. And I always say to people that if you try to be someone else, you’ll become nobody at all. And the only great person you have the possibility of becoming is the greatest version of yourself.

00:44:27:24 – 00:44:28:24
Philippa White
Yourself.

00:44:28:24 – 00:44:46:24
Laura Nice
And I think that’s really important because for me it’s about being your authentic self, whether that be at work, whether that be at home, and if you can be that and be vulnerable and show leadership in that way, then I think that’s really influential for the future generation, for positive change.

00:44:47:17 – 00:44:59:02
Philippa White
All what a great way to leave this. I’ve really this has been fantastic. You’ve left people with a lot to think about, including myself. So thank you. Thank you for joining me.

00:44:59:09 – 00:45:00:10
Laura Nice
All right. Thank you.

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