Hannah Browne, Acxiom: “Nothing ever stays the same”

“Nothing ever stays the same”

This International Women’s Month, it is clear to everyone that change is happening now. The media industry is changing at a rapid pace. This change is not only driven by an increase in privacy legislation and by more privacy-conscious consumers, but also within companies. Everything from processes and hierarchies to diversity is being questioned with more companies focusing on mental health and well-being, gender equality, and more.

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, InfoSum's VP, Business Development, Valerie Mercurio, sat down with Hannah Browne, Director, Products, at Acxiom, to discuss her accomplishments, female empowerment, women in tech, and more.

“Nothing ever stays the same. [...] And that's been the constant thing throughout my entire 15 years working in this industry. It's not possible to be bored. It's truly not possible and it's not possible to get stagnant in the things that we're learning so there's always opportunity, growth even. Growth through new concepts, new technologies, new laws.”

As an industry, we definitely keep ourselves busy. Change is the only constant across the media landscape and, on reflection, is a positive. But it’s also difficult to keep up in such a fast-paced industry. 

“You have to get to a place where you're comfortable, not knowing most of the time. You just have to be comfortable with knowing that you’re never going to be able to understand everything fully, you're never going to be on a cruise through this job just having nailed it because there’s new stuff all the time.”

So true. For many businesses, this comes down to the working environment and the people you work with on a daily basis.

“Some of the advice I give to people [...] is I always say that fancy company name is only relevant on paper. But once you're in the door, the name of the LLC that's paying your paycheck is completely irrelevant. It's all about the people you work with. You're often doing a similar role or similar day-to-day tasks. But the people you work with are what's going to give you fulfillment in your life and that's the connection that humans are all wired towards.”

We couldn’t agree more. In the end, it comes down to the people around you and whether you trust them or not.

“There's always something new, not that I don't have expertise but I'm always surrounded by people who are way smarter and way more knowledgeable than me. And I've had to learn to be uncomfortable with that and you really do have to accept that. [...] You have to trust yourself. [...] At the beginning I thought I have to know everything otherwise I'm not doing it correctly and that's not true at all. It's really about relying on the knowledge and the people around us.”

Talking about being uncomfortable, networking is a huge part of the job description and is important in this industry. But especially when you are just starting out in this industry it’s difficult. How do you do it? What would be your advice to people and especially young women?

“It's definitely way worse in your mind than it actually is so just go and do it like anything else. But the other thing is when we feel nervous and uncomfortable in those situations - there's all these people around us that we don't know when everyone seems really confident - it feels like there's a spotlight on us and everyone's examining our imperfections and that's not the case at all. So you kind of have to take your mind off yourself and realize that everyone's feeling just as uncomfortable as you and just let go of that a little bit as much as you can. Networking's important but it's a tough one.”

That’s great advice. There is a saying that fits quite perfectly with this - fake it till you make it.

We are obviously right in the middle of International Women’s Month, and it’s never been more important to pave the way for future women in tech. 

“One of the things that keeps me awake at night is less about the ecosystem and more about the environments in which we're working, the equality of women in America and around the world. [...] How do we make sure we lift up women in our companies and in our industries is really important to me.”

So, what can we do? How can we empower females around the world?

“We need to be hiring women into our upper tiers of leadership. I don't know all the statistics but women in technology have a good representation in lower and middle tiers and in upper tiers it’s just completely abysmal and it just completely falls away. We need to make sure that women are represented there so that other women can see them as an inspiration.”

Well said. Let’s lift each other up and inspire the next generation of women in tech.

Thanks for the chat, Hannah!