In the latest of our ongoing series highlighting incredible women in advertising, we had the opportunity to chat with Nicky Palamarczuk, Head of Social and Influence at VCCP, about carving out your own path through resilience and opening the door for diverse talent.
Can you tell us a bit about your role and your journey to arriving there?
As Head of Social & Influence at VCCP I am part of the team responsible for making the brands we work with internet famous. Which on a day to day basis means making creative ideas that travel online, tapping into native audience behavior. Leading social native thinkers in creative ideation and execution, sponsorship, stunt and event amplification, influencer marketing, community engagement and real-time content creation bespoke to client needs, whether that’s weekly reactive, trend-led newsrooms or campaigns.
I’ve been at VCCP for over eight years and I’ve specialised in social for about 15 years. I don’t really ever consider myself as having arrived in my role. Social is a ravenous beast. It’s always evolving and changing at such speed that part of my job is just staying up to speed with it. It’s what makes working in it exciting, challenging and at times absolutely terrifying.
I totally understand why some clients might still be nervous about committing to social. The reactions people have to anything that’s put out in the social space are so instant, so visceral. But get it right and you’re literally being shared between people’s WhatsApp groups, generating brand love and turning consumers into brand fans.
I’ve had a baby, breast cancer and a Brca2 diagnosis in the time I’ve worked in social and yet still I’m here because it’s thrilling.
What barriers do women still face in our industry and how can we challenge them?
Lots of things have changed and continue to change for the better, there's just years and years of inequality that’s so ingrained in the way everyone behaves subconsciously that it will take years more to truly overcome some of these challenges. I’m not talking about talking over people in meetings, I’m talking about things like a women’s idea having equal weight and consideration.
For me personally, I’m not waiting around for other people to change. I’m going to go out and model the changes I want for myself. So that I can be (as much as possible) in charge of my own narrative. If you can afford it, get a life coach. If you can find one, get a mentor (who will challenge you). Recognize your own worth and surround yourself with people who see your worth too.
How do you use your position to build equitable teams that are diverse and balanced?
It’s my job to hold the door open so that diverse people can step through it.
I don’t believe you need agency experience to work in an agency, you definitely don’t need a degree and you don’t need to have trod a traditional path to agency life. You just need to be really up for doing the job well, for making mistakes and owning them, for seeking out opportunities and making a name for yourself. Something my line manager said to me recently is that you work for you. Sure yeah you work for an agency, but it’s your career and up to you to take as much control of it as you can.
But if I am looking for interesting people, I always start on LinkedIn and I wish more of Gen Z were on the platform because otherwise it can be really hard to find you. At VCCP we’re always looking at a diverse range of candidates every time we interview too.
And then I’m a big believer in hybrid people. So if you’ve been shooting amazing transition-led social content for yourself or you’ve mastered capcut or the art of witty memes, but you’ve been working in payroll, great, let’s chat.
Who are your female advertising icons/role models and why?
Since joining VCCP I’ve literally worked shoulder to shoulder with some of the best, most inspiring women ever. Each one of them has brought their passion, expertise and their best selves to their job and made me better at mine. The ones I respect the most are the ones that have stayed true to themselves, that’s you Alex Dalman. Sometimes that has meant leaving the industry to do something else that’s you Shirin Majid and Dana Stevens.
My new role models are the junior ones coming through and carving their own paths, I can’t wait to see what they do.