Women in Digital Emily Witham

Name: Emily Witham
Position: Head of Digital Marketing
Organisation: Precedent
Twitter Handle: @precedentcomms 

Your career journey:
I started at Precedent nearly 6 years ago, as they were opening their Cardiff studio – so while the main focus of my role was as a junior consultant, I also pitched in on everything from organising events and building PR contacts, through sourcing office space and supporting sales efforts.  From there, I progressed quickly to become a fully-fledged member of our User Experience/Strategic consultancy team and began leading multi-disciplinary teams across a range of client projects including the RSPCA, The Bar Council and the Royal College of Nursing.

Within a few short years, I went from Senior Consultant to heading up the UX team, and from there, took up a role in the management team for our Cardiff studio.  But it was actually those early days of setting up in Cardiff that have given me the best grounding in how the company runs and the different areas of business – and it was this understanding that has ultimately led me to take on my current role as Regional Director Wales, where I balance running our Cardiff studio with continuing to deliver strategic UX projects for our clients.

Do you think that being female has impacted upon your career progression?
I’ve never felt it’s been an issue at Precedent or in my roles prior to that.  Since I started at Precedent, there have always been a good number of women in very senior positions, who had significant influence across the company and were great examples of what could be achieved.  I’ve been managed by both men and women, all of whom gave me help, support and also ideas for how I could develop my career, and so I’ve always felt that the focus has been on developing individuals with the right skills regardless of gender.

If anything, I would say that I’ve felt my age to be more of an issue in certain situations – particularly when going to visit clients at the start of a relationship.  In the early part of my career, I often felt that being (and looking like!) the youngest person in the room meant I had to work harder to establish credibility – and even now, when I meet new or prospective clients, they’re often visibly surprised when they hear what I do at Precedent!

In general, do you think there is a male bias in the digital media industry?
I would say that in terms of numbers, there are still more men working in the industry than women, but I don’t believe this hinders career progression for women – in fact, I think that as an industry, it’s one that feels very open in terms of gender.

Do you do anything to attract more female talent to your organisation?
The focus at Precedent is on finding the right person for the job.  Gender isn’t something that comes into consideration when looking for a new employee; we look for the person with the right skills and experience, and the desire to do the job.

From your time working in the industry have you seen any changes in the numbers of women working in the industry or the perception of women who work in digital media?
I would say so, yes.  I was chatting to one of our Directors recently about this, and she mentioned that when she started in the industry 10 years ago, there were very few women in senior, or even client-facing roles – they were largely doing administrative roles. That’s certainly not the case anymore – and we’re seeing more and more strong, influential female voices in the industry now.  At Precedent, the numbers of women in disciplines that traditionally were male-dominated, such as design, development and technical architecture are also steadily growing – which is great to see.  Long may it continue!

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