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"I love gaining energy from those around me" - With the Technical Director at Digitas UK | #GettingToKnow

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As the Technical Director at Digitas UK, Kerry Dawes must always be on top of the new innovations and technology to ensure the organisation is moving with the times.

No two days are the same in Kerry's role – which admittedly is something you can hear a lot from directors all over the industry, but never has it been more true than in her case. Kerry works relentlessly to ensure client expectations are always in line with Digitas' capabilities, and as a natural extrovert, the pandemic was not too easy on her, who thrives in teams and in gaining energy from those around her.

Today we are Getting to Know Kerry Dawes, Technical Director at Digitas UK, to learn more about how she and her team were able to face the challenges of a new normal.

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Tell us a bit about your role. What is your typical day like?

As the Technical Director at Digitas I have a multifaceted role which I love. No two days are the same but there are common themes like being across future technologies, solutions and best approaches to help our clients achieve their goals. Whilst working with colleagues, I   troubleshoot and progress technical delivery.  I am currently looking at the future of martech, moving away from the monoliths into the best of breed, as well as preparing for a cookieless future and ensuring clients are ready for it too.

I like to weave in personal development each day so will often read an article or white paper or watch a webinar over lunch.

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

As a female who loves tech, I have faced conscious and unconscious bias as well as sexism throughout my career. As I am not a developer by background I haven’t taken the typical route to a technical leadership role and I am constantly trying to build confidence with clients and colleagues that I am more technical than I may appear.

Overcoming that and not letting it stop me, despite people's best efforts, has been challenging. However, it makes me even more focused on ensuring these barriers are broken down and other upcoming female leaders see positive role models and have the support they need.

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

I have always been involved with horses and have ridden and owned my own for years. It takes discipline and commitment, so I have always been quite efficient, good with my time management as well as knowing the value of presentation and performance.
The equine world is interesting with a huge range of people from a range of backgrounds, ages and experience. This has meant, from an early age I was quite accustomed to being around people with varied authority and seniority, but also treating everyone with respect no matter who they are. The equine world is hard but there's a huge community spirit to it, so supporting and helping others is key, as you never know when you need to call in that favour. 

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

Honestly, surviving last year. But not just surviving, thriving. Despite working in one of the most challenged industries, travel, I led a transformational martech programme and delivered huge capability in nine countries despite having reduced teams and budgets. It was tough but through hard work, focus, a lot of team effort and lots of Zoom quizzes, we achieved a huge amount.

What’s your secret to remain inspired and motivated?

I am a relatively self-aware person and secretly very competitive! This drives me to always reflect, critique and try to improve myself. I am constantly pushing myself to do more, better.  I am very motivated to help other women, to support their aspirations and to help share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way. 

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

I’m inspired by the various coaches, mentors and excellent line managers I have had in the past. Everyone who has challenged, nudged or supported me to get to where I am. We need more of those people, not the others who dent your progress for their own gain.

How has COVID-19 affected you?

As an extrovert, working from home is quite possibly torture for me. I love being around others and gaining my energy and inspiration from those around me.  I have had to make extra efforts to find human connection and self discipline in the working day. My morning commute has also changed a bit. I have a ritual of going for a dog walk each morning, that fresh air is essential for starting my day!

It has also made me take a long hard look at what I love doing and how I want to spend my day. Making the move to a company which puts people first and works on some remarkable, exciting projects where I can really stretch my tech expertise is key and I am thrilled to have found that with Digitas.

What is your biggest hope for 2021?

Connectivity for people and technology. More people coming together, but also getting technologies to work together to allow those marketing silos to be truly broken down.

What is your one piece of advice to aspiring creative professionals?

Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do!

How do you recharge away from the office?

Getting outside and going for a lovely horse ride or dog walk. The fresh air always re-energizes me and gets me out of my overthinking head!

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

Something very creative, perhaps a failing artist or florist. I’m also a keen baker so making endless cupcakes!

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

For so many years, there are more and more tech companies promising to plug a gap or solve a problem, but we seem to be creating more complexity and issues. We must work together and demand technologies to be more open, connected, flexible and easy to integrate for this industry to thrive and to allow marketers to get on and think about working for the customer.

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

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