A seat at the table series: Career Progression

On February 13, 2023 a seat at the table series, career, career progression

IAB Australia has partnered with The Women in Programmatic Network (TWIPN) to launch the Seat at the Table Series.  The series will dive into the personal experiences of those from the local advertising community, and give these role models a seat at the table to share their story. Each month we'll feature a different topic and guest speaker. This month we are featuring Erika Mudie, Trading Manager at MIQ, who will be opening up to us about her career progression in media.

Q. To get started, we’d love for the readers to get to know a bit about you and how you got to where you are today. How did you land in ad tech/programmatic? 

A lot of things played into this, but the main factor was with each role I took on I learned more about myself and what sort of work or work culture sparked my interest. Being a journalist made me crave and hunt out newness all the time. There were a handful of moments when I was literally running towards danger to find things out. Working in publishing made me see in practice how advertising supports content creation and different approaches to monetising content. Given programmatic is always evolving and at that cutting edge of content monetisation, you can see then how I’ve arrived here.

Q. During your career, have you ever been looked over or not considered for a promotion? If so, how did you navigate that?

Offf, that’s a sore spot for me - I try to make myself hard to ignore, you know?

But in all seriousness, perhaps not explicitly or maliciously by the powers that be, I have felt overlooked at times and not even just for a promotion, sometimes for experiences that would help stretch me and prepare me for a promotion.

Whenever I’ve felt that, it would force me to think about why I wanted that opportunity in the first place and from there I could pick a path: work towards it where I am or find that opportunity somewhere else. Sometimes you try to stay in place but the timing doesn’t work out, sometimes you just don’t have the cheerleaders and support around you to help make it happen no matter how much you advocate for yourself. Sometimes you’re just not a good fit and you need to re-examine your goals so you pivot your focus to something that plays to your strengths.

There are a couple of things I’ve learned from those experiences. The first lesson that came early on was: know thyself. Know what you want, know why you want it. Just having blind ambition is a recipe for frustration and disappointment - it doesn’t help you stay focused on your goals and it doesn’t help your manager advocate for you and find opportunities for you.

The other thing I’ve learned along the way - and I’m sure someone much smarter and more famous than me developed this notion - is that your career isn’t a ladder, it’s a jungle gym. Sometimes the best move is lateral or even slightly backwards.

Q. Who inspires you in our industry and why?

Maybe it’s a bit of a bias to my own experience, but I always really appreciate people who come to programmatic after trying their hand at something else in the past.

You meet people who used to be in healthcare, the military, law or working artists/musicians and through circumstances they either did or didn’t choose, they’re picking up this new thing. It takes guts to look at anything in your life and decide to pivot especially with something that can be so integral to someone’s identity like their work.

It really enriches the industry to have people with these different life experiences picking up the craft. I hope as an industry we can open up more opportunities for people who are making these pivots.

Q. What has been the biggest learning of your career, and how did it shape you as a person today? 

It’s perhaps not a learning, but a theme. It’s that if you’re a person with a growth mindset then nothing is wasted.

Every bit of experience you gather along the way converges at some point - or many points - to make you the right person in the right place at the right time to achieve the task put to you.

There’s an element of acting on faith - or hope as a strategy - in that idea that I don’t think a lot of people are comfortable with. Especially if you’re a woman and we’re being coached so much these days to have agency over charting our career paths.

Don’t get me wrong, you still need to be a really active participant in your own career but in moments when you question your worthiness, know that everything you’ve done so far has delivered to you a lesson that only multiplies your value and never subtracts from it.

Perhaps to bring an element of proactiveness to this notion, I’d add that having a really clear narrative thread through all those experiences is how you can best convey that value to others.

Q. To close, we’d love it if you could share some earned wisdom with our readers. What’s one piece of advice you’d like to share today? 

Just one? Ok, this is one I’m trying to focus on this year: Always bet on yourself.


Your mindset and your behaviour are the only variables you always control in any situation. Through self-mastery, strong mental frameworks and good habits you can make yourself a sure bet and be known as someone who’s reliable and effective. 

This will accelerate you way past someone who might be a bit smarter or a bit better connected, but lacks the habits that drive outcomes. It also helps prevent burnout because you’re not powering your growth on motivation alone. Motivation wears out, habits stick around.

How do you develop self-mastery and mental frameworks? That depends on how you like to learn. I have a few routes: read widely, have mentors, have a coach, surround yourself with people who will challenge you, debate ideas in good faith with people you don’t agree with, try a new hobby from time to time just to remember what it’s like to be an amateur and what starting from square one feels like.