IMAA Launches ‘Female Leaders Of Tomorrow’ Programme With The Industry’s Top CMOs And Media Leaders As Mentors

Emerging female media agency leaders encouraged to apply

Independent Media Agencies of Australia (IMAA), the national, not-for-profit industry association for the independent media agency industry, today launched its Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme, as part of its commitment to fostering long-term diversity and inclusivity across independent media agencies nationally.

The extensive mentoring programme will run in Sydney and Melbourne, with senior marketing leaders from high profile organisations, alongside executives from major media organisations will provide their expertise to help guide and support emerging female media leaders.

The six-month programme aims to create a support network between accomplished industry leaders and their mentees by matching senior staff with up-and-coming women in indie media agencies for knowledge-sharing and professional development opportunities.

Through a series of online and face-to-face sessions, mentees will have the chance to learn from the experience of their mentors, while gaining valuable industry insights, expanding their professional networks and enhancing their skill sets.

In Sydney, mentors will include Cathy O’Connor (CEO at oOh!media), Lauren Joyce (Chief Strategy & Connections Officer at ARN), Nikki Rooke (Sydney Sales Director at Nine), Lara Brownlow (Head of Channel Sales APAC at LinkedIn), Mark Fairhurst (Executive General Manager at QMS), Liam Loan-Lack (Head of Marketing APAC & Canada at CMC Markets), Melinda Petrunoff (Country Manager at Pinterest) and Gaye Steel (Marketing and Content Director Consultant and Academic Lecturer at Torrens University Australia).

In Melbourne, mentors will include Andrea Salmon (National Head of Audio Sales at SCA), Peter Whitehead (Chief Commercial Officer at ARN), Natalie Warren-Smith (Head of Strategic Marketing at Westpac), Emma Fulford (Head of Marketing at Smiggle), Rachel Page (Network Digital Sales Director at the Seven Network) Amanda Connors (Global Chief Marketing Officer at Total Beauty Network) and Karl Winther (Chief Marketing Officer at Kogan).

Mentor Cathy O’Connor, from oOh!, said: “While the media sector slowly makes headway in diversity and inclusion, there remains much to do. Women in leadership roles drive business outcomes yet remain underrepresented across most organisations. I commend the IMAA on this important initiative and look forward to sharing my experiences and accelerating the professional development for these leaders of tomorrow.”

The programme will be facilitated by Wendy Gower, the trainer and coach behind WeGrow, which specialises in mentoring for the communications industry.

“It’s so important to encourage and nurture our female leaders of tomorrow and to provide them with advice and support from leaders at the top of their game, so mentees feel encouraged and confident to grow their careers. It’s an exciting initiative from the IMAA and one I am proud to support. As facilitator I will help coach and guide the mentor and mentee sessions to ensure the programme is a success for everyone,” Gower said.

The initiative is part of the IMAA’s commitment to addressing inequality across the media landscape. According to 2022 data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency*, just 22.3% of CEOS in Australian businesses are women, while only 20% of companies have boards with gender balance.

IMAA DE&I Council Chair, Angela Smith, said: “We’re thrilled to launch our Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme. This is an important initiative to help ensure diversity and inclusivity is a progressively smaller issue in our industry.

“Research shows having more women in key decision-making positions contributes to improved company performance and yet, women are still grossly under-represented in leadership roles across the media sector. That’s why the IMAA is committed to running this programme – to nurture female talent within the independent media sector.

“Ultimately, our vision is that this programme will support an increase in the number of women in senior leadership roles in our industry long-term, while also helping emerging female leaders develop their skills and gain practical, real-life insights and advice that they can apply to their careers. 

“This is the first step in our commitment to deepening diversity and inclusivity across the media landscape – it represents a significant investment in the future of our industry. By equipping talented individuals with the necessary tools and resources, we’re hoping to nurture a new generation of leaders who will shape the industry’s future and drive innovation.”

Programme facilitator, Wendy Gower, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of this significant and exciting initiative led by the IMAA. This programme holds immense value as it aims to empower and cultivate the female leaders of tomorrow, granting them a unique opportunity to connect with accomplished and respected leaders across the media and marketing community.

“Our primary goal is to inspire and guide our mentees, providing them with invaluable advice and unwavering support as they progress in their careers.  Our expectation is that the mentorship offered through this programme will instil confidence, provide encouragement, and equip mentees with the necessary tools to achieve both growth and success.

“In my capacity as a facilitator, I have been intricately involved in shaping the programme to ensure its effectiveness and relevance and have prepared a number of resources and collateral, tailor-made for both mentors and mentees, to facilitate a seamless and enriching mentoring experience.”

IMAA CEO, Sam Buchanan, said: “This is the most significant initiative for the IMAA since we founded our Diversity Council in 2022, with the aim of taking diversity and inclusion among our members from ‘niche to normal’ and to demonstrate the value of embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace. There is nothing like our programme of Female Leaders of Tomorrow in the industry and is a fantastic opportunity for emerging female leaders in our member agencies. I would also like to thank our amazing mentors, who will generously give their time and expertise to the lucky mentees for this programme.”

Female Leaders of Tomorrow is exclusively available to IMAA members and designed for individuals who currently hold manager/director positions, with a minimum five years’ experience in any media agency discipline and applicants can apply from any state. To ensure the best match between mentors and mentees, the programme will feature a ‘speed dating’ introduction. With the programme kicking off in September. For more information or to apply for the programme, visit:

The programme will officially launch with networking events in Sydney on Tuesday, September 5 and in Melbourne on Tuesday, September 12 at oOh! offices.

Source: * Source: WGEA Scorecard 2022: The state of gender equality in Australia

Further information is available at:


For further information contact:

Rochelle Burbury
Third Avenue Consulting
0408 774 577

About Independent Media Agencies Australia

The IMAA was established in February 2020 as a new, national industry body that represents Australia’s independent media agencies. The IMAA promotes the benefits of working with independent media agencies, build awareness and respect for the sector, create a knowledge sharing forum and help build the Australian economy through supporting 100% Australian owned businesses.