The slogan “empowered women empower women’ is one we say a lot here at The Women’s Organisation. They are words we strive to remember every day – we can all be inspired by women who are doing great things.
That’s why we want to shine a light on the women who are leading the way in their industries in our new series, ‘STAND OUT’.
We’ll be hearing from women who are at the top of their business game, from top business execs, to women working in arts and culture and even an archaeologist!
This time, we sit down with Kylie Taylor, Senior Director and Head of Global Corporate Communications at Getty Images.
|Kylie Taylor, Senior Director and Head of Global Communications at Getty Images|
What does your role involve and what would a typical day look like for you?
As Getty Images Senior Director and Head of Global Corporate Communications, I am responsible for Getty Images’ overarching communications programme, in partnership with my counterpart on the PR side. I am responsible for all corporate communications – whether that’s executive communications and training, internal, CSR, public affairs, crisis communications etc. There is no typical day – it is always varied, busy and bustling, but whatever the case, the day will be full of laughter and positive interactions. It sounds clichéd to say, but I’m lucky to work with some of the very best people – both professionally and personally speaking.
I tend to be online most of the day, based in the office from around 9.30am through to about 7pm and then after that from my second office – the couch. Being based in London, but headquartered in New York, the hours can be gruelling; however, it’s generally myself who is driving the work, so there’s no one else to blame.
I do love my job and don’t mind the workload – although of course, sometimes it would be nice to have Wi-Fi crash globally for a few weeks and have no choice but to hide away on a tropical island. A girl can dream.
Tell us about your professional journey (Did you always know what you wanted to do? What turned it from a hobby to a profession?)
I was definitely not one those people who knew what they wanted to do. My brother is a lawyer and my sister a teacher and I’m always been envious of their ‘easily explained at a dinner parties’ jobs. My beloved Grandmother died thinking I was in advertising, which for a 70-something from southern New Zealand, was essentially as close to the cause as I was going to get.
I loved people from day dot and had an interest in branding as early as I can recall, although at the time wasn’t aware that’s what it was. I remember loving the television network campaigns but was too young to know that could be a job. When I started my first after school job – working in a retirement village – I would spend my money on things like perfume without having even smelt the scent, such as how enamoured I was with an advertising campaign.
I was always a ‘Type A’, excelling at school and placed a lot of pressure on myself to do well. When I graduated high school with top marks, I decided to do Law, Philosophy and French as I had the grades to do so and rather fancied myself as a bit of a bi-lingual Ally McBeal. I had a friend studying Communications but didn’t really know what it was – this was 17 years ago – and I changed degrees just before classes kicked off after some soul searching. I realised I was studying Law because I could and thought that’s what would make my parents proud. After reading up on Communications, I realised that while it didn’t sound as clear, it was definitely the path I wanted to take.
I still to this day work with the elderly though and volunteer through Re-Engage (until recently it was called Contact the Elderly), which is a charity that works with isolated people over the age of 75. I love it and have become a spokesperson for them so in this small way, my profession has helped my hobby.
Has there been a specific turning point in your career or proudest moment?
My turning points have often come during times of uncertainty and change – it has always presented the greatest opportunities for development and for this reason, I recommend people embrace change wholeheartedly and work to be the very best person you can be during times of tumultuous uncertainty.
In 2008 I was working in health, beauty and fashion PR at an agency, which went under in the recession. I had just moved to the company, leaving a secure job I loved as a Brand Manager for several beauty lines, to move into a solid PR role. After the company went under just three months after joining (I swear the timing is coincidental), I found myself out of work. Despite having no fast-moving consumer goods experience, I applied for a role in the McDonald’s Communications Team and was lucky enough to get it, which spurred the beginning of my global corporate communications career. I worked with someone there who completely changed me for the very best – Kate Porter, who headed up the team. She was tough and had exemplary standards – as she should working in such an organisation. She instilled such rigour, professionalism and stringent habits in me that shaped me into the professional I am today. I, in turn, try and pass this down to my team.
I am forever grateful for Kate. I left McDonald’s and New Zealand, only for the bright lights of London – I bet I would still be there today if it weren’t for my love of all things British!
What does it mean to you work in a globally renowned company?
My family barely know what I do on a day-to-day basis because its hard to explain, unless you operate in and understand the corporate environment. But on the upside, they all know where I work and what Getty Images does – that’s one of the better things about working for a globally recognised brand.
The reality is that a global company comes with global time zones and one must respect that – you can’t have your cake and eat it. It means longer hours and constantly juggling conference calls at obscure times of the day, but it also comes with wonderful perks such as countless opportunities to learn, exposure to the world and an international network of kind, funny and whip-smart colleagues.
|Getty Images is one of the largest suppliers of stock images, media and visuals, with an archive of over 200 million (Image credit: Getty Images)|
Have you seen positive changes in your profession over the years, with more women becoming involved?
On the large part, communications is a fairly balanced profession gender-wise, so I can’t say that I’ve been exposed to these challenges. That said, I have been referred to as the ‘PR Girl’ more times than I care to count, but that stopped pretty smartly when I referred back to them as the ‘Technology’ or ‘Picture Boy.’
What women inspire you / who is your role model?
I am lucky to be surrounded by brilliant, bright and bold women who inspire me each and every day. I’ve already mentioned Kate, one of my very first sources of professional inspiration. I also had the joy of working with Jennifer Ferguson for a few years, a senior Comms professional based in New York who is an amazing leader and comms executive, but even more importantly, an incredible woman. She challenged and simultaneously supported me – I adore her.
I also worked under the esteemed Dawn Airey, Getty Images’ previous CEO now Board Member who is undoubtedly a role model to many. She inspires me in many ways. She is whip-smart, an advocate for diversity and inclusion, a nice person, but what I admire most of all about her, is that she is herself – she doesn’t bend herself to fit a corporate persona. She is who she is and why shouldn’t she be? She’s second-to-none.
My mother-in-law is also an inspiration – like Dawn, she is true to herself. She is intelligent, a staunch feminist and all in all, a remarkable woman. She has truly lived, and in turn, lived through a lot. She’s a real matriarch – the glue of the family.
I adore my own family too – my sister, mother, step-mother and sister-in-law are a constant source of inspiration. My sister is one of the strongest people I have ever met; my mother the most vulnerable and kind; my step-mother, is so balanced, selfless and stable; and my sister-in-law is hilarious and wise beyond her years in a way that knocks me for six.
Ultimately, I am inspired by people who are themselves and bring their whole selves to work each day. Those that are human, are real and aren’t afraid to be themselves in the corporate setting. Authenticity is paramount; vulnerability makes you stronger. I am hugely inspired by such women.
Are there women in the field who have supported you along the way?
Without a shadow of a doubt. I am surrounded by positive, incredible, intelligent women and we all advocate for one another. Its paramount – great women help one another up.
In fact, I can only recall moments of support – not those who have knocked me back. Writing this down I feel so very blessed – I am not short of supporters, role models or influencers. I have a team of them too – I work with courageous and gifted women who every day make me a better professional.
What would you say to young women thinking about pursuing a career in your sector?
Go for it – communications doesn’t discriminate.
I’d also advise them to bring their superiors their very best work every time and to give respectful deadlines to colleagues. Instil these habits in yourself early on and you will go far.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’m a sucker for a good quote – I adore them and have so many saved to my phone, that I’m a walking, talking Pinterest page.
The advice that tends to stick is simple, such as the uncomplicated adage: ‘This Is It.’ This is life. Don’t sit waiting for things to fall into place before you get going. You won’t be happier when this imaginary milestone occurs, or you reach a certain level in your career. Don’t wish away time – it’s so precious; we must appreciate what we have now.
I was going through an intensely difficult period in my personal life and thought I would never survive it. I was trying to cope in various ways, when a friend said to me that I just had to focus on taking baby steps – one tiny step at a time… Small, little victories, micro reasons for gratitude, such as getting out of bed, or making a piece of toast, putting one foot in front of the other. I felt like I was failing myself and losing my mind, but this conversation changed my whole outlook and I truly think, saved my life.
During that difficult period, I also came across this quote: ‘Sometimes when you’re in a really dark place, you think you’ve been buried. But actually, you’ve been planted.’ That is so very true – that time in my life was transformative and I’d go through it again without hesitation to be where I am and who I am today.
As Victor Hugo himself said, ‘even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.’ Well I don’t know about you, but if it’s good enough for Victor, it’s good enough for me!
Know someone who is a Stand Out Woman? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
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