Fran Hale, VP Sales & Marketing at Brave Bison (EMEA) joined our Q&A session.
One day a musician, and the next she becomes the VP Sales & Marketing at Brave Bison. See the details of this impressive career journey and Fran’s insights about diversity, ecosystem and more in the digital marketing industry:
1. Can you tell us about your personal journey and your current position at the agency?
I trained as a musician, which means that entertaining people has always been a passion of mine. My career choices have therefore been informed by a desire to work for companies that create and curate entertaining content for their audiences. This led me to take on roles at pioneering social music platforms Myspace, Last.fm, Mixcloud and then Vevo, where I was Head of Sales for the UK & International business. I’ve been fortunate to have had some very supportive colleagues and managers throughout my career to date, all of whom have helped me on my personal journey – and this continues to be the case at Brave Bison, where, as VP Sales & Marketing, EMEA, I lead the team that delivers social marketing strategies for our clients and partners. The fact that I get to work with great people to create engaging social content that audiences love certainly appeals to the entertainer in me!
2. How diverse is your team? Do you believe agencies should take further actions to diversify their teams?
The Senior Management team at Brave Bison has a 50/50 gender split and we are proud to have a diverse team across the entire agency. Diversity and social responsibility is a priority focus of our business and we have a dedicated team that regularly meets to agree initiatives in this area. There is always more to be done, though. There’s a responsibility for every agency to ensure they are doing all they can to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce and I think this is particularly pertinent in creative content businesses, where there is a need for all audiences to be represented in the content they engage with, which can only be achieved by a team that is diverse in itself.
3. Do you think there is a gender gap in the digital marketing industry? If yes, what are the main reasons for that?
The gap is slowly becoming less pronounced, with some outstanding female talent in leadership positions in digital marketing, but it certainly still exists. I think the main reason for this is legacy. The remnants of a male-dominated industry are still evident in places, but I’m confident that this will continue to change, given the waves of fresh and diverse professionals coming up through the ranks.
4. How can we support the next generation of female marketers entering the digital marketing industry?
The phrase “empowered women empower women” is very apt here; future female marketers need to see themselves represented in leadership positions within our industry in order to feel confident of the opportunities available to them. Mentorship is equally important – it is our responsibility to ensure that we use our experiences to provide learning and support for the next generation.
5. Considering the industry dynamics, do you think it’s more challenging for women to become leaders in the digital marketing ecosystem? Why/why not?
I’m not sure whether it’s more challenging for women to become leaders in digital marketing, but when a woman is a successful leader gender is definitely referenced far more frequently than it is for her male counterparts. I’d love to get to a point where women leaders aren’t referred to as ‘female CEO’, ‘girl boss’, or ‘she-EO’, all of which assume male dominance. To my earlier point about the gender gap, this is heading in the right direction but there is still a way to go.
6. Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?
As I mentioned, I have been lucky to have benefitted from a number of supportive managers – and, more than that, many supportive male managers – in my career to date. It’s crucial that men are our allies in driving gender equity in the industry and an inspiration of mine is one such man. James Cornish, VP International Sales at Vevo, has twice been my manager and has been a hugely important advocate for my career. His support and guidance over the years has helped me believe in my abilities – and I hope that, in turn, I can provide that kind of inspiration for the teams that I lead.
7. Why do you think your agency stands out from other digital agencies?
It is a pleasure to work for an agency where every team member has such a genuine passion for the work we are doing. Brave Bison stands out because not only do we deliver world-class social strategies for our clients, we also do it for our own brands and have done for more than a decade. This is fairly unique in the industry; we practice what we preach and have a team of the most dedicated and knowledgeable social media experts doing it.
8. How does being a DAN member contribute to your agency’s success?
Being a DAN member provides us with invaluable access to a relevant audience and gives us the opportunity to widely showcase our extensive expertise and capabilities.
Bonus: What has been your favorite lockdown activity to do at home?
One of the most fun things I’ve done during lockdown has been a series of ‘virtual Disney singalongs’ with my little nieces and the children of my friends. Playing the piano and singing Disney classics over Zoom while they join in and dance around their living rooms was a first for me – and couldn’t help but put a smile on my face.