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#GettingToKnow Ana Thorsdottir - Innovation Director @ Social & Creators

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

Given we are working in a hybrid model, and with the constant changes and surprises in talent work, there really is no typical day but rather a typical week as we’re always working on simultaneous projects in tandem. My day usually consists of client liaison, current project syncs with my team, pitch deck building, and meetings outside the office…but of course also some firefighting!

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

The biggest challenge is navigating different types of companies, corporations and everything that comes with that, while simultaneously trying to grow a new media, and excel as an individual. To achieve what you need to; these are the obstacles in the way and figuring out how to navigate those webs is a constant learning experience.

Asking questions, no matter how long you have been working, and learning about other people’s jobs and challenges will help you move forward quicker. Empathy and kindness are corporate superpowers too.

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I’m originally from Bosnia, and have lived in Serbia, Tanzania and Iceland before settling in the UK in 2007 where I went to university. My personal background is filled with many drastic changes in environment, including a hard period during the Bosnian war and an incredible adventure living in Tanzania, followed by a focused and ambitious career drive in London.

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All those (sometimes traumatic!) experiences I had have contributed to the businesswoman I am today, and I always lead with empathy. Having experienced a war and being raised by a single mother makes you appreciate things differently, and that hunger and drive to do well can get addictive when you achieve things beyond your or your family’s dreams.

I also believe that being exposed to many different cultures and ways of working has helped me adapt easily and become a better communicator although I am constantly learning.

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

My biggest wins have always been convincing clients to be brave and do something new, and then having fun doing it, proving that it worked. This is especially true when I made sure that influencer marketing was a permanent line on the Planners’ media plan at Mediacom.

It was an uphill battle industry-wide to convince brands to spend in this space, so we started with 10% back in 2017 and it’s awesome to see just how much the budgets and talent work has accelerated.

I can’t really think of a ‘loss’ because I don’t look at bumps on the road this way. I believe every step, decision and pivot has taken me on the path meant for me in different ways, and I’m now a multi skilled professional because of that…someone called me the Swiss knife once and I’ll take that!

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I’m inspired daily by the women I’m surrounded by, creating businesses and curating their dream lifestyles. It’s not easy being a woman, let alone a woman in business. Whenever I have self-doubt, imposter syndrome or need a little push, I look at my fellow industry colleagues and how much they have achieved by pushing on and showing up.

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One of my heroes is Jenny Quigley Jones, CEO of Digital Voices. Not only because she is a lovely human, but she has so many great dimensions to her, grew an agency on two continents all while being a good friend and a remote work champion and generous support in the industry.

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

I LOVED my teenage years, living in Tanzania by the sea, and then Reykjavik, to finally London when I was 18 and wouldn’t change it for anything. It was a personality altering experience for me, that ultimately made me a very resilient person that can be a chameleon in any situation, country, or hardship. Perhaps I would have stayed in Tanzania and forged a long term life there, if I knew how much I would long for it again…

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

My alternative career would have probably been photography, or real estate but that one is already happening so perhaps I should take up photography as a hobby!

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

If we get a little deep….my dream is for the industry to become better at education, standardisation and regulation. Without a faster and stronger drive for education (whether it be about social media or AI), we risk having technology in the wrong hands of uneducated regulators, and new generations who won’t know how to navigate their new normal. Machine learning is fascinating and social media is fun and exciting – it’s not all doom and gloom.

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

Things have changed a lot. The new generations do sometimes have it easier in terms of expectations; I’m not going to sugar coat it. But the old principles remain – work hard, be kind, be honest and show up earlier/bigger than you were originally asked to. It will be noticed! Be proactive about your road to long term relationship building.

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But actually…while you’re in your 20s with few responsibilities, travel, meet new people, go out of your comfort zone. Enjoy your life 100%! This will make you versatile, adaptable, and these memories will last forever.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

There is enough pie for everyone. If we foster more collaboration between agencies (which we at Attachment do!), we all win. Additionally, nurturing and keeping good talent is becoming more challenging in a competitive market – collaborate with your teams on what a new way of working looks like…let’s get more creative with our workplaces!

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

I’d like to think of myself as a situational and supportive leader, with an honest but empathic approach. I want my team to feel they are learning and growing and be confident to be one step ahead of me which will ultimately speed up their career progression and client trust. I also want to ensure they don’t have the ‘Sunday blues’ and are able to build their ultimate career lifestyle alongside my leadership.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

I obsess over reading upvoted posts by clever leaders and random strangers on Quora, which seems to be a lesser-known website in the UK. I would also recommend the below books:

The Glass Wall

Principles: Life & Work

Start With the Why

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

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