Jo Hagger is a force to be reckoned with in the digital industry. Clo was more than keen to talk to Jo about her experience of leading successful businesses, her passion for mentoring and thoughts on the #metoo era. Clo met Jo at an event for which she was on the panel and instantly admired her tenacity and mission for positive impact. Jo has led businesses including glue London (now Isobar, part of DentsuAegis), AAR and SapientNitro. She works in a consultant-coach capacity with a number of agency leaders and businesses and her most recent roles include Senior Industry Head at Google and MD at Possible and Wunderman. Read on to find out more about what makes this woman tick.
1. You've had quite a year! Tell us what you're up to at the moment.
Currently enjoying a short sabbatical, to build up my good karma - time with the family, volunteering, and considering lot’s of interesting possibilities.
2. You have led some of the most successful agencies out there. What's the one job you feel has given you the most personal satisfaction?
Without question, managing Glue London through some crazy successful and creative years. Finding and working out how to attract the best people, building the team, developing and growing the business and doing some brilliant work in the process.
3. You've talked about your hate for being described as 'ambitious' and a 'go-getter', just because you're at the top of the chain. Do you think there's a lot of negatively perceived ideas of what success looks like?
I think there are a lot of 'loaded' words that we use without much thought or care, for sure. I also think it's really narrow minded to consider 'success' in one dimension and assume that everyone has the same notion of what that looks like. For me, success is about happiness, life balance and always learning new things.
4. There's a well-documented heritage of sexism in the industry. As one of the few women at C-level, is this something you've had to deal with?
I have encountered sexism in many different contexts and flavours, although never to such a degree that it’s stopped me doing what I wanted to do. In that respect I feel pretty lucky, but I also feel the weight of responsibility that we should all feel, to drive positive change and make tangible positive steps towards improving gender diversity, inclusion and mutual respect - in business and in life.
5. The industry has a big pressure to address equality right now. For example, the IPA just announced it will introduce a code of conduct in the wake of the 'Top Five' email, do you think the industry is doing enough and what, in your opinion, should help to solve this?
No I don’t think the industry is doing enough at all. A lot of the problems exist or are set at the very top and become systemic. I’m hopeful that the brave and tenacious entrepreneurs and future business leaders (female and male) who are leading the charge towards more progressive and inclusive business practices will get more and more publicity and traction. I also think that calling out bad practice needs to be a lot more widespread and honest - and backed by action.
6. The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in advertising /marketing?
Do your research and know why you want to do it, know that the people you’ll work for are good people and that you’ll be able to learn whilst working hard and supported to find the right career path for you over time. If you are going to work in the industry then it has to be fun as well as hard work - and to be fun you’ve got to be surrounded by the right people.
7. You're a SheSays mentor, Creative Equals coach, Inspiring the Future volunteer, NABS mentor and Help for Heroes mentor. What draws you to coaching?
Seeing what amazing and beautiful things people are capable of when given the opportunity (and often when they’re not!).
8. There are a lot of young (and older) women starting their own businesses and are seeking coaching on how to take their business to the next level. What would you say is the biggest thing that women need to get right to run a business?
Being clear about your proposition - why you exist, what you’re there to do and who you want to do that for and with which customers. This isn’t complex in itself but it takes time, clarity and discipline to follow your path. And find a good supportive mentor or coach who can provide extra counsel or support when needed ;)
9. What is the one thing you find keeps coming up as the problem that needs solving for your mentees?
Fear of what happens in career terms after having a family or simply how to cope with the juggling and multiple demands. Not least of all those demands we put upon ourselves and lack of confidence.
10. Do you think women at the top get enough support in business?
I think women at the very top often benefit from very good and extensive support systems extrinsically, but emotional support can be much harder to come by. It’s the classic ‘loneliness of the leader’, which is where clubs and networks (like WACL, for me) can be invaluable.
11. Being at the top of a business, are you able to stay inspired?
I am always inspired, but often by things or people that are nothing at all to do with work or business!
12. Where do you get your inspiration?
New experiences, meeting great people, coaching and mentoring, and continual learning.
13. Who do you look up to?
My mum - she’s strong, loving, fearless and a staunch feminist.
14. If you weren't doing what you do now, you'd be....
On a beach in Mexico, cooking up my next project?!