2016 Google Women in Search winner calls on the industry to “challenge everything”

Sophia Glennon, PPC manager at Confused.com and winner of the 2016 Women in Search initiative, has called on women in the industry to “challenge everything” as she accepted the accolade at The Drum’s 2016 Search Awards.

Cardiff-based Glennon thanked Confused.com for providing her with a solid foundation, and explained how she aims to provide a strong level of training to her own rapidly expanding team.

Glennon was presented with the award by Fintan Gillespie, industry head at Google. Gillespie reinforced Google’s commitment to diversity in the field of search, and in particular praised the talent of the three finalists that presented at the final stage of the judging process.

Gillespie described Glennon as a “a real standout”, who he was confident would rise to become a prominent future leader in the discipline. Fellow judges for the final stage of the process included Rebecca Weeks of MG OMD; Varthana Faulkner of Performics; and Helena Lopez of OMD – all of whom were featured in the 2015 cohort for Women in Search.

Summarising her success, Glennon contended that those working in the search industry should constantly question and challenge conventions. Glennon argued that in her own experience, the best way to both improve performance and equality was to maintain a questioning attitude, challenging authority and conventional wisdom in the sector.

Glennon ended by stating that it “makes her day” when challenged by her own team, as it proves their continuing growth in knowledge and confidence.

On the night of the awards, Glennon was joined by her two competitors for the final accolade, Melissa-Jane Daniel of Timico and Lauren Rogers, associate director of paid search planning at iProspect.

Although the competitive stage of the initiative is now at an end, the 2016 Women in Search initiative will continue throughout the year through a series of networking and mentoring events.

The first networking event was held on 27 September at Google’s Central St Giles offices, with a number of the 2016 Women in Search group in attendance.

At the networking event, Glennon was introduced by Jehan Shah, industry head at Google, and reflected upon what she viewed as the main crux of the initiative:

"The most important thing for me about this award, which I suppose is the same for all of us here, is that it is not about just inspiring us in this room right now, but about inspiring the next generation. Our role is to reach the people who don’t yet know they are going to go into search marketing, and encourage them to step forward and enter the digital age."

Glennon also discussed the impact of the initiative within her own organisation, highlighting how the accolade had reinforced the commitment to gender equality within Confused.com and led to further discussions with senior management at parent company Admiral.

At the event, the 2016 Women in Search group explored shared challenges and their own unique perspectives, and discussed how The Drum and Google could provide support in tackling equality issues in the broader industry.

A number of areas were identified, such as more established access to industry mentors, in addition to a forum which allows for the group to liaise with each other on common issues and share experiences more frequently.

The Drum's research team will be actively investigating how to best address these issues in the coming weeks.

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