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Spoon Helsinki’s Lena Barner-Rasmussen on leading a creative agency

By 9th March 2020 No Comments
Lena Barner-Rasmussen

It doesn’t need to be International Women’s Day for Spoon to be immensely proud of the fact that all our six offices are led by phenomenal woman directors – but it’s a great reason to shout about it. Even though the creative industry is saturated with women, the heads of creative departments are usually male-dominated. As few as 3% of creative directors are female. A 2019 study led by Lean In found that women are 21% less likely to be promoted to management roles.

We took this opportunity to ask our female agency directors across all six offices about their roles leading Spoon offices. In this article, Helsinki’s Lena Barner-Rasmussen discusses her experience as a leader of a creative agency.

What do you enjoy most about leading a creative agency? 

I love to see the whole team scramble together to meet a big deadline. Our team in Helsinki is great because we have people from different corners of the world; Russia, India, the US, Australia and Scotland. Diversity enriches our creativity.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt managing multiple stakeholders and client briefs?

Things change fast so don’t fall in love with your to-do list. Be prepared to reprioritise all the time. Don’t be afraid of making quick decisions based on scarce information. You need to constantly make a decision because decision inertia slows down the whole team. And accept mishaps: I make bad decisions all the time and there are mishaps, but if they are not huge, it doesn’t matter. (I make the occasional huge one too and still survive. Don’t tell my boss!).

Are there any changes that you would like to see to help more women to break into management within the creative industry? 

Looking at Spoon’s management team, you might think it’s more difficult for men to become leaders in the creative industry. I don’t think it’s particularly difficult to reach the top in our industry because you are a woman, at least not in Finland. The one field that acutely lacks women is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). I think we should work much harder on convincing girls to go in that direction. I am currently working on my 15-year old daughter.

Looking back at your career, what hurdles have you faced as a female entrepreneur?

I grew up with a mother who was phenomenally successful in a male-dominated field. She never used her gender as an excuse. Everyone in my family, regardless of their gender, shared household responsibilities. I was in my 20s when I first realised there were women in the Nordics who thought they were worse off professionally because of their gender. I thought it odd, and I still do. There are all kinds of hurdles in life, but if you focus on them too much, you will stumble. My advice is to focus on your own course.

Gain more insight from Spoon’s agency directors:

Spoon: Led by women, made for all

Spoon Oslo’s Marte Ramborg

Spoon London’s Shelley Hoppe

Spoon Stockholm’s Maria Biesterfeldt

Spoon Malmö’s Divya Ostwal and Jenny Dernelius

Spoon Gothenburg’s Johanna Niklasson