media update’s Adam Wakefield spoke to Sturae Hickley, ad operations manager at Mark1 Media, about how talent can be found in previously disadvantaged communities, and how she would go about engineering this change if given the chance.

If you could change one thing about the advertising industry, what would it be and why?

If I could, I would start an institution where I’d go into previously disadvantaged communities and look for raw talent. 

I'd train them in digital marketing; everything from planning to strategy, to creative design, account management/client service, campaign execution and data analysis.

I’d then help them get practical work experience so that they could understand the industry inside and out, and not just on a theoretical basis.

Why is having talent from previously disadvantaged communities so important?

[It's important to] make these people employable so that when they walk into an agency, they hit the ground running. That way, we’ll be killing two birds with one stone. We'll be providing a skill set to these young individuals as well as an opportunity not previously afforded to them due to their current socio-economic circumstances.

In turn, the industry benefits by getting a much-needed injection of talented young people.

You were on an all-female panel at the IAB Digital Summit 2018. How important is it for the digital ads industry to make a sustained effort to promote female talent?

As we all know, our industry has always been male-dominated, which is no fault of their own. The fact that having an all-female panel at the biggest digital event of the year is such a huge achievement is quite sad in this day and age.

However, if what we’ve seen at the IAB Digital Summit 2018 is an indication of where our industry is heading, we are moving in the right direction.

There are so many women in our industry doing amazing things. Given the opportunity, it’s imperative that we continue this transformation and work towards an ideal world where gender and race won’t determine the industry you work in.

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Legislation plays an important role in how industry functions and, where marketing is concerned, the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act will have a major impact on how direct marketing functions. Read more in our article, IAB Digital Summit: How the POPI Act affects direct marketing.