Tania Di Stefano, Experience Strategy Director at DIJGTAL joined our Q&A series for International Women’s Day.
Tania shared her career journey and her sincere insights into gender inequality in the digital marketing industry. You will find a lot more if you scroll down to read the full Q&A:
1. Can you tell us about your personal journey and your current position at the agency?
My early career in marketing focused around tourism. I did my university degree on it (loved it!) and I worked in it at establishments including BridgeClimb Sydney, Park Hyatt Sydney and as a Tourism Officer for a local council and Regional Tourism Organisation. I loved every second but after four and half years as a Tourism Officer I could see the shift coming in marketing in that it was moving from primarily print to online, and I realised I didn’t know much about how to do any of that ‘stuff’ well! So I adapted and changed my career path.
I needed to essentially start again, I found myself an entry-level role in a small digital marketing agency and learned all the best practice foundations there. Over time I honed my skills and was headhunted for a Content Experience Manager role at a larger digital agency. I was there for about nine months, loving every second, but unfortunately was made redundant due to reasons outside of my control — it can happen to anyone!
Because I had a great relationship with my General Manager, he sent my resume out to his network and luckily one of his contacts was looking for a Senior Social Media Manager at Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the worlds most prestigious advertising agencies. I got the job! And although it was an adjustment, allowing me to only use some of my digital marketing skills, I adapted again. This was a reset time in my life both career-wise and personally, I’d been given a huge opportunity to work for a big brand and I was excited. I stayed there for just over two years until I was headhunted (again!) for a role at DIJGTAL.
I was initially approached for a social media-related role, however, after meeting with the Managing Partners they decided they wanted to offer me a bigger, more strategic role so they came back to me with an offer for a Content & Communications Strategist. I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back since! Within one year and nine months I was promoted to Experience Strategy Director, a role custom made for me based off my skillset.
Now I lead both projects and people whilst supporting strategy for existing engagements and new business opportunities. I’m responsible for being a strategic partner and trusted advisor to our clients by helping them address business imperatives or issues with the right balance of strategic and marketing thinking. I champion a bespoke client experience by working with a dynamic, integrated Product and Marketing team to develop strategically driven, innovation-led ideas that are delivered with executional excellence.
2. How diverse is your team? Do you believe agencies should take further actions to diversify their teams?
The one refreshing thing I noticed immediately when starting at DIJGTAL was how diverse my team was, and I truly mean that. We have people from all walks of life and ethnicities. As far as DIJGTAL is concerned, we will hire the best person fit for the role — whether they’re female or male, locally born or from overseas is irrelevant. If you have the skills and the right attitude you’re welcome here.
It’s definitely not perfect in our industry across all agencies, so yes I do feel further actions should be taken but what they are exactly, I’m not going to pretend I know. What I do know is that I’ve worked in teeny tiny agencies and ones with hundreds of people. I can say that every agency is different, their approach to recruitment is different, their management style is different but if they choose to make an effort in ensuring diversity in their teams, they won’t be disappointed. It’s through our collective diversity and experiences that teams can cleverly solve complex business problems, and bring about a solution that really works and is truly human-led.
3. Do you think there is a gender gap in the digital marketing industry? If yes, what are the main reasons for that?
Of course! I mean, it’s not as big as it was say five or ten years ago but yes there is certainly a gap. I think it comes from stereotypes on the ‘typical’ roles for men and women, I think it also has something to do with the women who drop off once they have a baby. I don’t have children myself but I do have many mums in my life, some married and some single, and I know quite well the challenges they face just from mum life let alone trying to get back into their careers. When you have to step away for maternity leave everything moves on without you, and fast. It’s scary and intimidating, and if you don’t have the right support network around you I can totally understand why some young mums just don’t bother.
4. How can we support the next generation of female marketers entering the digital marketing industry?
Give them every opportunity to expand their skillset with free training, enable them to meet like-minded females they can look up to in the space they’re interested in, and for those who are new mums, give them the flexibility to work for you in a way that makes sense for them and the business.
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?
Absolutely and not just in digital marketing, in all industries. Why? Because we have to fight so much harder for our seat at the leadership table. If we’re hard, we’re considered a bitch, if we raise our voice, we’re considered hysterical. Men just don’t have to deal with the same sh*t as us.
When I got my role at DIJGTAL and was asked to be in the senior leadership team I was told, by another older female, “Watch out that they’re not just hiring you so they have a woman in the leadership team.” Immediately that put me on the back foot. This came from a trusted woman in my life who had to fight for her role in leadership, much harder than me, her entire career so I totally understand why she warned me. For me thankfully, this wasn’t the case as my Managing Partners Ross and Mark are very progressive. Having been at DIJGTAL for almost two years now, I can confidently say that I was asked to join because I was worthy. Plain and simple.
If you have progressive and supportive leaders then the challenges for women to become leaders disappear.
6. Who has been an inspiration to you in your life and why?
My mum and Nonna (my mum’s mum).
Nonna migrated her family to Australia with my Nonno in the 1950s, they didn’t speak the language or understand the customs. My Nonna chose to break away from her brothers, who all migrated to Venezuela, to start a new life in Australia. They built a wonderful life here that I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from. She taught me that your dreams are what you make of them, and to always go after them fearlessly no matter what the odds.
My mum got married and had my brother and I. She’d never gone to university because her parents couldn’t afford to send her. She worked as a Law Clerk most of her life then at 50 she decided she was going to become a solicitor (lawyer). She studied part time every night after cooking dinner and making lunches for my father, brother and I. It took her 10 years but she got her degree. She’s now 74, still practising law full time and is loving it.
7. Why do you think your agency stands out from other digital agencies?
Our team culture. Building a team is one of the hardest things to do. I’ve been in the workforce for over 23 years and I have never worked at a place quite like DIJGTAL. We’re all so wonderfully unique but we mesh together so well. We truly support each (there are no egos here) and we challenge each other. As a result, we work together to drive our business forward both in Product Design and Marketing.
8. How does being a DAN member contribute to your agency’s success?
We get a lot of referrals through DAN which is great because it means we get a foot in the door to start a conversation with a potential partner. If nothing comes of it the first time, it doesn’t mean something won’t come of it later on down the track. Being part of DAN opens doors for us, doors that we may not have been able to open ourselves.
Bonus: What has been your favorite lockdown activity to do at home?
Spending time with my fur babies! Unfortunately, my big girl Leila (the white one) passed away during the lockdown in 2020, but I’m so thankful that I got to spend so many months at home with her, taking her and Jimmy (the brown one) out for walks every day, and just being able to love on her more than ever before.