Ceiling on self-belief

My Biggest Mistake: Jessica Hatfield
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The Independent Online
Jessica Hatfield, 42, left school to set up her outdoor catering business at 17. Ten years later, she came back from her travels and began working in sales promotion and business development for companies including Fotorama and Swan Marketing. Four years ago, she launched her own business, The Media Vehicle, which offers advertisers a national network of in-store advertising opportunities. She has a turnover of pounds 10m, and 40 staff

MY BIGGEST mistake was not having enough belief in myself. I assumed if someone held a superior position to me, that they automatically knew what they were doing. I never questioned that their opinions were superior. I had firmly put my own glass ceiling in place.

My moment of revelation came at Swan on 4 January 1994. I had a very clear picture where this ambient media phenomenon was meant to go. If I got this right, I would provide a professional, national advertising medium in-store, which would be fully accountable, properly researched and excellent value to advertisers. The path in-store marketing had taken was littered with corpses of companies that failed to deliver.

The moment of revelation came when I presented my in-store media strategy to the board. I was business development manager. They were receptive until the marketing director stood up and told me it couldn't work, saying: "She means well, but I don't think she understands what she's doing." I felt crushed, but that moment gave me the power and courage to leave. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was right and he was wrong. I then left the company and set up The Media Vehicle.

I spoke to retailers such as Asda, Sainsbury's Savacentre, Somerfield and KwikSave with my vision for the future and how I would implement it. Since then, we have become Europe's largest in-store media company and are expanding into new and innovative advertising mediums both here and abroad. Last week we launched Big Screen Media, giving advertisers the opportunity to place TV commercials on state-of-the-art screens across the UK's largest shopping centres.

I created The Media Vehicle as the company I always wanted to work for, where mistakes are addressed as a training need and everyone's opinions are listened to with respect. Once I realised I had broken through my own glass ceiling, I realised there was nothing I couldn't do. It changes your perspective. When people start with us, I tell them, "We will create this big space around you and I will watch you grow into it".

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