Born and raised in South Africa, Ellen now lives in London, where she is our Managing Director. Self-taught in the field of media buying, building products and direct publishing, Ellen is a true self-starter who moved from assistant to Managing Director in only six years. She manages our teams in the UK as well as Barcelona using a unique leadership style.
We are excited to introduce this female leader at CLIQ to you and for you to find out more about her drive, ambitions, problem-solving mindset and unique leadership approach. Here’s our interview with Ellen Richardson.
1. WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BECOME AS A KID?
I have always loved to read and write. I wanted to become a journalist or an artist. Then, when I watched the film ’13 Going On 30’, I wanted to be a magazine editor. I was obsessed with advertising and designing things. I loved the glossy pages of magazines! Print media was slowing down by the time I got to choose a ‘grown-up’ job, but I stuck with advertising and ended up designing in digital.
2. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST STRENGTH AND WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST WEAKNESS?
I like to think of myself as a very kind, patient, and caring person. This is my natural state of being, and a definite strength but can also be a kind of weakness. In my work, I can be too impatient with processes. My ambitious, high-energy nature hates waiting, and I get frustrated with elongated processes.
4. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAVE OVERCOME SO FAR?
I think life is full of hurdles and you cannot pinpoint what is ‘the biggest’. But, 6 years ago, I emailed the UK embassy, asking them how I could enter the country to work without a British Passport. With no British or EU roots, they replied and told me it would be impossible. I refused to accept this. I studied hard and taught myself the ins and outs of this industry from my bedroom. I was noticed by my former boss, who offered me a job in London along with a permit to work. This story reminds me that nothing is impossible, but getting through all of that (and dealing with visa/passport stress) was a huge challenge.
5. HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
For me, success is knowing that I have healthy, strong, long-standing friendships, an energetic, close-knit team and knowing that I have remained true to myself and my personal goals. My success is linked to my freedom, independence, and strong mindset. I have never given up no matter how many times I have fallen down.
6. YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR FEMALE LEADERSHIP?
People always ask me this and I struggle to give a simple answer. Any kind of positive leadership starts with knowing who you are as this will configure your leadership style. Learn how to have a healthy balance between your masculine and feminine self and when to exercise each side. Never let anyone, especially a man, tell you that you are emotional when you are expressing yourself. You have standards, you are not difficult. Know when you need to apologise, and when your apology is absolutely not required. Consume social media carefully and try your best not to compare yourself to others. We’re all on different paths! Read/listen/educate yourself as much as you can about people and human complexities. This will help with understanding why people are the way that they are. This will assist in your management.
Cultivate a positive, happy support system through friends and family. Remember you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.
Stay true to yourself and your goals. Speak up when you are uncomfortable. Choose compassion without being a pushover and leave your ego at the door. Pick and choose the advice given out by your mentors and cultivate it into your own. I have a lot of support and mentorship from Rudy (Managing Director CLIQ Paris ), Jenny (Head of Human Resources) and Sander (Director of Operations). Go through these motions and you will figure out exactly who you are and how you want to lead. Growth is rarely comfortable, so get comfortable with that.
7. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT SOMETHING IMPORTANT?
A while ago, I decided to find a completely new job challenge for myself. I had thought about it for ages, and I had made up my mind about it. My next plan was clear and decided. Luc, CLIQ’s CEO, then came to visit me in London, and we talked a lot about what we both wanted for each other and for the company. He presented me with an opportunity to become a key decision-maker within the group. I agreed to remain and continue our partnership together. Since that day my life changed drastically in ways that I never dreamed possible. That was a huge (and scary) decision that has positively changed the course of my life and I am grateful for this opportunity and trust.
9. DESCRIBE HOW YOU ENVISION A REGULAR MONDAY IN 5 YEARS.
Life is weird and random. Anything can happen; therefore, no day is the same. If even 2 years ago you would have told me I would be one of the MDs at a stock-listed company, I would have laughed out loud and told you that was hilarious. But, I do hope to wake up feeling content and safe while still having our projects roll in. I love and need challenges!
10. WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL FAVOURITE CONTENT ON CLIQ AT THE MOMENT?
I love the German audiobooks. This really helps alongside my German classes because I struggle with pronunciation. I adore the audiobooks on personal development such as The Power Of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This is such a huge part of my life and I love learning about it. The original book changed my life.