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Spoon Malmö’s Divya Ostwal and Jenny Dernelius on how more women can break into leadership roles

By 11th March 2020 No Comments
Divya Ostwal

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, Malmö’s Divya Ostwal and Jenny Dernelius, maternity cover agency director, discuss their experiences as leaders of a creative agency.

What do you enjoy most about leading a creative agency? 

Divya: The high you get from solving problems is extremely addictive. That, coupled with my passion for community-building, makes working in a creative agency so worthwhile for me.

Jenny: Agency life is equal parts messy and magical. It pushes you to go that extra mile and grow both personally and professionally.

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

Divya: Make stuff happen! Everyone – from the team to the clients – expects you to bring solutions to the table, not problems.

Jenny: We often underestimate our intuition and gut feelings. Trust your intel and challenge your client to think differently with you.

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

Divya: I believe that women leaders need to be more vocal about their journeys to the top. It is extremely empowering and liberating to seek comfort in relatable stories of struggle.

Jenny: We need to drift away from the traditional mindset of women being the sole carer for children. With shared parental responsibility, there will be a more balanced professional progression for women and men. Women shouldn’t have to choose between a career and a family.

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

Divya: People tend not to take women seriously, especially at the management level. You need to make an extra effort to make sure your voice is heard. Being confident about your skills will help you overcome this. Seeking mentors who are willing to help is also really beneficial.

Jenny: A lot of men don’t handle women at higher positions very well and will try to convince you that you are not enough. It does take an extra degree of persistence and gumption for women leaders to make their presence felt. It is only under the leadership of such brave women that we can foster an inclusive and diverse workforce within this generation.

Gain more insight from Spoon’s agency directors:

Spoon: Led by women, made for all

Spoon Oslo’s Marte Ramborg

Spoon Helsinki’s Lena Barner-Rasmussen

Spoon London’s Shelley Hoppe

Spoon Stockholm’s Maria Biesterfeldt

Spoon Gothenburg’s Johanna Niklasson