A seat at the table series: Partnerships and Mentorships

On May 29, 2023 a seat at the table series, mentorships, partnerships

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 Orsolya Tóth-Pál, Founder and Host of Debate Club and Co-founder of Suntied who will be opening up to us about Partnerships and Mentorships. 

Q. To get started, we’d love for the readers to get to know a bit about you. You’ve been working in media for almost 10 years. What drew you to the industry and what keeps you interested?

Like many people in media, I randomly ended up in the industry. I studied hotel management and wanted to be an event organiser. I was struggling to find an internship so I broadened my search and found out that creative agency work is similar but without the unsociable hours. After several failed attempts to get into creative grad programs I was offered a role at MediaCom in London. It was so much fun, we were all friends, new to the industry, we learned a lot and had all the big companies doing cool things in the office every week. I never looked back.

What keeps me around is the ever-changing face and diversity of the industry, the people and just the way we operate. I love that you can really define what you want to do and enjoy every day of your life. I love chatting to people, brainstorming big ideas and doing new things all the time. I love that this is such a big part of my job. 

Q. You have participated in the IAB Mentoring program as a mentee. Why did you apply and what did you get out of the program?

I had a really good relationship with the people I was working with, but I didn’t do much outside my day to day. I wanted to build my brand in the industry, but I wasn’t going to do LinkedIn opinion pieces just for the sake of it, that’s just not me. Ironically now I’ve been told many times that I am all over LinkedIn.

My mentor, Ilda, helped me find the synergies between what I was good at and what the industry needed and this is how Debate Club was born. I’ve met so many interesting people and I’ve learned a lot from running the events. Naturally it keeps me updated with the latest topics. It definitely helped with building my brand, I had so many people coming to me and telling me how cool the initiative was.

Thanks to that I was nominated for Women in Tech and Women in Media last year.

Q. What advice do you have for anyone who is looking for a mentor, either formally or informally, to get the best out of the relationship?

I think it’s really important to get the right personality fit. I was really lucky, because my manager at the time, Gilbo, suggested Ilda knowing both of us. If you can find someone through a recommendation, that’s great! 

You can have many mentors in life, I have many different people I go to for advice depending on their area of expertise or what I know they are good at.

I would also say that you should know what you want to get out of the mentorship, and take ownership of your progress. 

Q. You founded Debate Club in 2021 and it’s still running today. How did this come about?

We had to defend one of our uni projects in the form of a debate and I absolutely loved it. I have been trying to find debate clubs in Sydney on Meetup, but there wasn’t really anything there. When I had my mentorship with Ilda, I knew I wanted to do something to bring people together, have fun, have a few bevvies, but also educational and useful.

I asked Ben Baker from Vistar Media to host it at the WeWork and begged to all my friends in the industry to come to debate and watch.

When I posted the ticket on LinkedIn, Gai Le Roy commented that she loved the initiative and the IAB is happy to support it, so I immediately DM’d her and asked to help me find debaters and an audience. There were maybe 15-20 of us and it was the rainiest day in Sydney. We had to take a big break because of the second lockdown. A friend offered to sponsor the next event, the topic was the metaverse, and after that it really took off.

Q. What do you think are the benefits of participating in Debate Club?

There are so many! I have been told that many people feel that Debate Club is a safe space to practise their stage skills before they would jump on a panel. You don’t have to represent your company or your personal opinions so you don’t have to worry about saying something silly or out of alignment.

Diversity and Inclusion has always been important when we put together the teams and the judging board, and I really love the aspect that it has become a platform for people who are ready to be considered for speaking opportunities to put themselves out there and show their skills. It’s also a great opportunity for up and coming talent to get in front of more senior people in the industry. 

Debating is a really good skill to have, you have to think on your feet, be concise and persuasive. I think everyone could benefit from better skills to get people on your side.

For everyone who comes along, it’s a really fun and entertaining evening and you really get to explore sides of an argument and have some food for thought that you can take back to your work.

Last but not least, Debate Club is a melting pot of cool people in but also some from outside of the industry. I hate the word networking, because it’s a bit forced, but it’s definitely a place to meet new people. It’s a real mix of people in terms of backgrounds, seniority so there are constantly new ideas and perspectives mixing in and I intend to keep it this way. Debate Club is a place where magic happens, friendships are made and jobs are found. Who knows what else will come out next!

Q. You have founded Debate Club and Co-founded Suntied as well as holding down a 9 to 5. To be successful with such a busy and varied workload requires you to search out partnerships and ask for help. In general, women are often hesitant to ask for help. How do you navigate that?

100%! I never used to ask for help in the past, until I read ‘How to win friends and influence people’. The title is a bit weird, but the book is amazing! The part about asking for help really changed the way I think about this. People love to help each other, it’s what builds community. I think the book was sharing some research about how people are more likely to like you when they have helped you. If I think about myself, it makes me happy to be able to support friends, so why would that be different.

We have hesitations around asking for help, because we don’t want to inconvenience others, but in reality we are taking away an opportunity from them to do something nice, to feel good about themselves and most likely some bonding time.

I couldn’t do all of this by myself. I have so many plans and luckily I have a team of volunteers who joined me earlier this year to help bring more ideas to life with the Debate Club.

People are pretty good at saying no, and if they don’t want to help you they will tell you, and that’s nothing personal. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Q. Who inspires you in our industry? And why?

Gai Le Roy, she is an incredible woman! I have been incredibly lucky to have her support from Day 1 and her help is a big contributor to the success of Debate Club. She is the glue of the industry, she drives all the collaboration, supports all the cool initiatives, shows up to every event and opens doors for everyone.

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?

One of the most important lessons I learned is to value my time, so my advice would be to be intentional with what you do with your time. It’s the only finite resource we have. You can make more money, but you can never make more time. So what you do for 8 hours of your day matters. People pleasing and spending time with people who drain you are all taking your time. And while we are at it, respect other people’s time too.

Follow Debate Club on LinkedIn for updates on upcoming events and how you can get involved.

Debate Club links:

LinkedIn Group

MeetUp Group

WhatsApp Group

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