Ep 7: Harriett Hindmarsh

Anne McNamara
May 12, 2021
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I am thrilled to be joined by Harriett Hindmarsh, who is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at AECOM.

In today’s episode I speak to Harriett about how it feels to be a female in a male dominated industry. She discusses her journey from starting her career in PR at a charity in Ireland to where she is today.

We talk about some of the challenges within her career such as the infamous Millennium Bridge wobble and how Arup managed to turn it around into a well-known success!


10 key takeaways


Don’t be disheartened if your first job isn’t what you thought it was.

“I went to work for a fairly new charity. I didn’t do terribly well as it was my first job. I stayed there for a few years but felt quite bruised afterwards. I didn’t have the best boss in the world either. Once I moved to the UK, I felt like I had a lot to prove after my last role. I interviewed for Arup. I was immediately struck by the breadth of work they did, their design integrity and their philosophy.”


Good leadership is vital!

“You don’t leave an organisation because of a job, you leave an organisation because of your manager. I really do believe that. My boss at Arup, Tony Fitzpatrick was great. Arup was a safespace to fail, succeed and try. I think that this is really important.”


Have a unique perspective

“I think what the teams I work with in AECOM value about me is that I have a broad knowledge of the different areas of the business and also I understand how our clients think, I understand what our media think, and I understand what our people think. I spend a lot of my time looking and reading about this because I need to understand all of this. I offer a unique perspective.”

Initial failures can turn into your biggest successes.

The Millennium Bridge wobble- “This is one of the days from my working career that I will always remember. It was one of those projects, where it could make or break you because it was really intense, but it was so enjoyable and was great to work as part of a team. We turned it round reputationally. We partnered with NASA to find a solution for the bridge it was great.”


Remain relevant and ahead of the curve!

“As the industry evolves, margins get smaller, competitors are more aligned. It’s harder to differentiate. The ability to differentiate across the whole client lifecycle is incredibly important. It is necessary if you are to remain relevant and ahead of the curve.”


Marketing isn’t about creating brochures, it’s about implementing strategies.

“To me, the marketing function is responsible for translating the strategy, taking it and implementing the strategy in partnership with your technical team, that’s how important it is. The skill of a good marketer is being able to do that in a way that resonates with your clients and you can bring your people on that journey with you. It is a science as well as an art.”


Be ambitious and work hard!

“If you want to come into this industry and you are ambitious you have to work hard and take knockbacks. You have to take into consideration that as an industry we might not be as diverse as other industries, as long as you understand that and you are willing to be part of the journey that brings us towards equality and diversity and you are willing to fight for it and work hard then I think it is a great industry but go into it with your eyes open.”


Women don’t back themselves enough.

“As women we really need to back ourselves. I don’t know if it is part of our upbringing as women. My mother was a housewife and my dad was the breadwinner, there was a hierarchy. We need to back ourselves more and believe in ourselves more.”


We need to coach each other.

 “Another thing I noticed is that women do too much, we don’t delegate, men are much better at it. I know I work hard; I am not saying I work harder than anybody else, but I know I could delegate more. We need to lift our heads up and think ok where do I want to be and we need to look forward. I think that is something we need to coach each other on.”


Work smarter not harder!

“Back yourself, understand finance, go and be best friends with the CFO and understand those accounts because if you don’t understand those accounts that you won’t progress in a significant way. Develop your strategic thinking and develop good teams. Believe in yourself and invest in yourself in the right way.”


Episode Summary