Breaking into Digital Media: Inspiring Stories from Female Pioneers

The digital industry is a dynamic, exciting and constantly changing landscape, so there is no surprise that jobs in digital are hugely desirable and sought after. These digital changes aren’t just a reflection to how businesses adapt to evolving internet behaviours, but now more than ever, women are paving their way in the traditionally male-dominated industry.

We’ve already seen The Drum making more of an effort to celebrate the young trailblazers in Digital and encouraging those aspiring to enter the industry. However, according to The Candidate, there are nearly twice as many men currently working in the digital sector than women. Of course, there are various reasons to why this is the case, and at DevelopHer we believe one way to overcome this is by inspiring women to break into digital media via the power of sharing connected stories of  digital pioneers.
So we share with you four inspirational ladies, and their background on how they entered Digital Media with a top tip for you to get ahead in your digital media career.

  1. Hannah Mirza, Global Head of Media Partnerships, MediaCom

    hannah mirza
    “I started my career at an American start-up as the seventh UK employee.  When you come in low in the ranks you can quickly become a Girl Friday, dabbling into whichever area they needed that week from sales, to creative, to marketing, office supplies to managing data.  I wanted to break that mould and move to a more corporate role where my skill sets in digital would be more developed so made the switch to media agencies.  I kept the entrepreneurial spirit I had learned in the start-up in this new environment, looking at how we could build business, or in this case departments of the agency in emerging areas. Looking back across now several companies I have successfully built seven departments from scratch for local and international agencies across Paid, Owned and Earned media.  Most recently for Mediacom I am leading a new division for digital transformation and Innovation consultancy.  Pairing blue chip client briefs with start-ups taking me full circle back to my beginnings”

Hannah’s top tip for breaking into Digital Media: 

  • Dedicate time in your work week to the trade press and read a diverse set of industry and broader technology literature to stay current.  I get most of my strategic ideas from the most unexpected places and I put this down to that time.
  1. Louise Tullin, Vice President of Marketing, Unruly louise tullin “After studying English Literature at Uni, I applied, by chance, for a job a tech PR agency in Reading. This was before the iPhone was invented and had no idea how ubiquitous technology would become. After moving to a London Tech PR agency working for the world’s biggest tech brands, I jumped in-house. I oversaw international PR across 12 countries for the world’s largest privately held backup and recovery software vendor. I then headed to Unruly, a little-known video and tech company who has just raised $25 million in Series A funding. Five years on and the company has been acquired by News Corp for £114m and we’ve just been shortlisted for the Best Strategic Marketing Campaign at the Chartered Institute of Marketing Awards.”

Louise’s top tip for breaking into Digital Media:

  • Take control of your own destiny: While it’s great to take advice from your boss, mentors and family, only you can take charge of your own career. When you’re starting out that might mean doing lots of work experience in as many different places and roles as you can. Sometimes the hardest part can be figuring out what you actually want to do! Hands on experience is the best way to decide that. Then keep learning. Study a course at night school or online, read titles like The Harvard Business Review, ask to do a role exchange within the commercial team of your company so you can really get a good feel for what your customers wants and needs. Finally, learn how to code! I never did and really wish I had!


  1. Kate Newton, Search Insights Manager, Microsoftkate newton“I started my digital career in 2000, a year after graduating from university having first initially worked in the classified ads section of my local free newspaper, and then contracted at the Office for National Statistics processing employment survey data. During this time, I was conscientiously looking and preparing myself for my dream role as a junior web developer, so I could be in the best possible position for when that job finally arose. Since then my career as evolved from being a web developer, to becoming a content creator and online journalist before moving to London in 2004 and embarking on a career in search engine marketing. My core belief and motivation is that I only do work which I find interesting, which challenges me intellectually and creatively, and that I’m genuinely excited and passionate about doing.”

Kate’s top tip for breaking into Digital Media:

  • Be kind to yourself: if you are embarking on the first 6 – 9 months of your new digital career you are going to be on a steep learning trajectory. You’re going to have days of extreme highs but also lows; when you’ll feel frustrated and wretched because you made a mistake – and you will make mistakes. Hold your hand up and own your mistakes and learn from them. Listen, observe and practice – you’re going to learn about 70% of your new role from doing the job and the other 30% from mentors and formal training. Nobody expects you to be an expert from day one, and neither should you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for feedback, and never apologise for feeling silly or stupid for asking your questions. Be kind to yourself, remain positive and open-minded and keep a healthy perspective on your growth and development. You’re doing great!
  1. Cathy McCarthy, Vice President of International Marketing, comScore cathy mcarthy
     “After graduating with a Marketing degree in the US, I started out in market research at Information Resources (IRI) then when client side to Dole Foods as a Marketing Manager. With dual citizenship in hand, the lure of working internationally never left my mind. So I took the plunge and moved to Belgium in my 20’s and then to London 6 years later and have lived in the UK ever since. After many years in traditional marketing, I had my first foray into digital at Capital One UK where I was given the responsibility to look after marketing campaigns for their non-card products.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about digital marketing but I learned quickly with our partner, a performance network.  The experience paid off and I enjoyed working with the team so much and getting my head around their technology that I joined the team as EMEA Marketing Director, helping to explain the world of ad tech to marketing managers just like me.  Now I look after international marketing for comScore and continue to be fascinated by digital trends that make our industry such an interesting place to work”

Cathy’s top tip for breaking into Digital Media:

  • You’re never too old to learn something new: With over 10 years invested in traditional marketing, I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to learn a new skill in digital marketing. I took the opportunity, kept asking questions and never looked back. My advice is to raise your hand and take a chance, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks and it will mean you’re never bored in your job.

Digital Media is one of many careers our community, mentors and speakers are part of. If you’re interested in more inspiration tips and career advice across the different tech industry, sign up to our newsletter here for more motivating articles.

Written by Laura Chung

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