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Madam’s Carly Stone Shares Her Experience Of Discussing Parity, Mentorship & Leadership at Adfest 2019

28 March 2019

We catch up with Madam’s Carly Stone on her return from Adfest 2019 and where she took the stage discussing parity, mentorship and leadership.

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What brings you to Adfest 2019 in Thailand?

It was my first time attending and I had the pleasure in joining a panel of three amazing business women from across the globe (Victoria Connors @ The Producers, Australia, Maria Laletina from SHP/SHP +, China Emma Daines, Fin Design& Effects (Australia/China) and hosted by my UK Madam partner Pippa Bhatt. Our talk was titled “More female voices in the advertising pipeline encouraging parity in the business” We wanted to do the talk to encourage more females within the APAC region into leadership roles and to look into the new initiative Owned ( and the support it can offer. There has also been a severe lack of female speakers at previous Adfest festivals and we wanted to change that for 2019.

There has recently been many movements, discussions and social campaigns regarding equality, how did yours differ and bring new insight to the conversation?

Our talk was very much about our experience, on how we have achieved our goals, the challenges, our inspirations and opportunities given. We wanted to focus on the importance of parity in the workplace and the success it can bring to the business, rather than bashing on equality issues. We were sending a positive message about having balance and flexibility in the workplace and that was why I wanted to be involved. I have had a very positive career upbringing in the the UK and was surrounded by incredible female company owners as well as male mentors and I wanted to share that.

Can you elaborate on your experience including your inspirations and challenges?

Yes, in the small Soho courtyard that I started my career there were two production companies next door and they were both run by women. Academy Films' Lizie Gower and the other Karen Cunningham, who has now moved into directing. Alongside my mentor Lisa Bryer, I was in this triangle of amazing business women supporting each other, nurturing incredible directing talent and 22 years later, they are all still doing amazing work and still an inspiration.
Becoming a MD so young was a challenge in others believing in you and accepting that you are in this position. There were many times, I felt isolated, sometimes insecure because my mentor had left the industry and of course you are full of ambition and drive to prove that you can succeed.
There has also been a lot of talk about female directors and pigeon holing. I produced for a female director and went through the challenges trying to get a non-baby, beauty or animal-based script, this was 18 years ago and it is only in the last two years with initiatives like freethebid and clients pre-requisites of using female directors, that this issue has become a mainstream discussion.

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You touched upon mentorship, how important was that for you and today?

Mentorship is massively essential in production and in any industry. Company owners need to give the next generation proper training and investment into them, including pay incentives and wellbeing. When I was a PM, my mentor would always challenge the cost controller on the budget to take me on an overseas shoot and on the occasions where she didn’t succeed, she would pay for it herself out of her company, this really made me feel valued and respected and I knew that I had a great mentor that believed in me.
Of course, today's budgets and company profits are reduced dramatically and not everybody gets to shoot overseas. However, giving your staff the push into any experience that they can learn and benefit from only excels their development and business growth.
I was given many opportunities for training at APA Masterclasses, seminars/events and any form of industry invites that came through the door. I was always encouraged to attend and this really assisted in my quick progression from reception to MD in seven years.

Back to your talk, what was the feedback and post conversation?

Fantastic feedback, we were approached by a collective mix of people holding a variety of job titles and from across the globe. Male ECD’S wanting to know how we could help their TV departments to young female creatives totally inspired by our journey. The Chinese audience found it a pivotal conversation as Maria described there is no issue with parity in China and female producers dominant production companies, agencies and are often in leadership roles. One journalist who didn’t attend the talk, but on discussing the content was “fed up and over” hearing about equality and women in the advertising industry…

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Finally, what were your take-away moments from the festival?

So many amazing talks, but I was really impressed by the festivals attitude to nurturing new talent and blown away by “The fabulous Five” talk, encompassing 5 finalist young directors showcasing their 5-minute films based upon Adfest 2019 theme “TMRRW.TDAY” The production quality and overall craft was of a very high standard, some directors having very established production companies backing and support, others who assembled the production crew and suppliers themselves.
And the daily programme TMRWW Biz School “A creative business school designed to educate and inspire marketers to think creativity by building their careers for the future“.

There is a real desire to bring together leading experts, to educate, share experiences, and knowledge. I liked the intimacy of the event and being able to converse and network with such a diverse crowd.

Oh and the revolving bar. I have finally stopped spinning..!

You can contact the Madams: Carly, Pippa and Michelle at:
London Head Office: +44 (0)20 8977 9082
Manchester Office: +44 (0)161 821 1489

Production Services

Contact Name
Carly Stone
+44 (0)7989 423 528