Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Paula Norris, Group Digital Director at GumGum & Committee Member of Bloom North

With over two decades of experience in the media and advertising world. Paula has worked
in many roles both agency and sales side, TV and digital. Her more recent achievements
involved scaling two businesses into new regions and giving them a ‘name’ in the North.
Beyond her career, Paula is a passionate advocate for equality, particularly in the workplace.
She is committed to empowering women to thrive and excel in their personal and
professional lives via her role in Bloom.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for women in your sector of the digital industry today?

While the industry has made significant progress since I started my career 20 years ago, there is still a significant lack of women in leadership positions for other women to draw inspiration from. Women who are successful and excel in their roles. This can be attributed to the difficult decision many women still have to make between their careers and having children. Personally, I am fortunate to have grown up in the industry surrounded by powerful, ambitious, and empathetic women. Success breeds success, and I am driven, motivated, and influenced by the collective power of strong but principled women. Finding their authentic voice can be challenging for women, as it requires a strong sense of identity hindered by the multitude of roles they have to play daily.

Despite the challenges, there are also opportunities for women in the digital industry. The smaller number of women in leadership positions means there is less competition, providing women with a chance to shine. Many businesses have recognized the value that women bring in terms of leadership style and perspective, often giving them an advantage in the interview process.

What does the industry need to do to better champion women?

To better champion women in the digital industry, it is crucial to surround ourselves with individuals who would speak highly of us in a room full of opportunities. This mindset stems from personal experiences of growing from a girl to a woman and witnessing the negativity prevalent in schools and classrooms. Ultimately, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the greatness of our female colleagues, regardless of their gender. Self-doubt is common among many women, and true progress can only happen if we uplift and support one another, showcasing the self-belief needed to excel in our careers. While many businesses do now hire the most qualified candidate, it is down to us as women to have unwavering belief in ourselves and our abilities.

What is the biggest misconception about women and by women in the digital industry?

I have worked in a sales environment for 15 years which is largely dominated by men.  I think historically there has been a belief that men are better salesmen due to their gutsy bravado and their bolder approach to the interview process. I can understand how this happens, if a man can sell himself then surely he can sell a product.

This is however a huge misconception and many of the best salespeople I have met across the years have been women. They may well have a different sales approach, but I think they have a huge number of qualities which lend themselves to a sales role. Building trust, multi-tasking, empathy and learning a sales pitch inside and out before taking it to market – to name just a few.

What is your biggest achievement in digital to date?

My biggest achievement to date in the digital industry has been scaling and growing two digital tech businesses in the regions. I have transformed them from relative unknowns into successful and established businesses. I am particularly proud of expanding the team in Manchester to seven individuals during my tenure at Captify. This accomplishment was achieved without any assistance from HR or incurring any recruitment fees. These seven individuals have gone on to achieve remarkable things, and I am immensely proud of the impact I have had on their careers.