Nadine Heir, Creative Director, Messaging Strategy at Feral, has been finding tech and branding companies’ voice for over 15 years. While she genuinely enjoys bringing process and consistency into new teams and marketing initiatives, she is a huge proponent of creativity and authenticity. So, while she is a writing professional, she likes to do so with personality: she chats about coffee and her hobbies, and make cat quips and witty remarks so that her peers and community can hear MY voice, and smile as they hear it.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I grew up in England, in a commuter town. There weren’t tons to do but I look fondly on my childhood. My parents were the epitome of hard working and shared parenting perfectly equally. They also treated my sister and me equally, they never wanted there to be resentment between siblings. This instilled a social conscience in me which I feel privileged to carry today.
As I became a young adult, I realised I wanted to work abroad. Holidays weren’t going to cut it because I felt the need to assimilate, to immerse myself in different cultures. My studies in England, my relatives from Colombia, and my dear friends from Kenya and Ecuador all set a shining example for me of integrating into new cultures. I took on the challenge, first spending stints working and living in France and Spain.
Moving to Mexico City in 2011 was not easy. For someone so engrossed in working-class culture, suddenly appearing to be upper class simply because of my colouring was overwhelming. I’d never felt more out-of-place.
Plus, the traffic, the public transport, the working hours, the sound levels, the lights… Everything was intense. But I would not be beaten! I dug my heels in and mastered the language, I forged a web of beloved friends, and made a way for myself.
In my 12 years in Mexico, I’ve been working in both Spanish and English at companies including WeWork, Globalization Partners, and Macmillan since arriving in Mexico and I’m proud of both myself for those achievements, as well as the companies for offering me those challenges.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
I am working with fantastic companies in North America and Europe as a consultant and creative director. With them, we do everything from high-level messaging to video tutorials and executive events. I also volunteer for Rural Mental Health Matters because fair access to mental health support is a mission that’s close to my heart.
In my own time, I promote other creatives. Write Wiser is my initiative to provide a platform for ghostwriters to have their own bylines to add to their portfolio – an issue many of us face after years of writing for executives is that we have nothing under our own name! I encourage any professional looking to publish something on the topic of writing and work with a seasoned editor, to reach out to Write Wiser, my non-profit.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
I have always sought out stability. In the industry of marketing, many of us are seen as expendable. Advertising and branding is something companies spend on when they have “spare cash”. Of course, this is a damaging way to look at this area of growth marketing and yet many companies struggle to fund our initiatives or allocate budget long-term to our projects.
Similarly, I’ve worked with many startups. Many of us are thrilled by the pace and the opportunities to work closely with gifted founders who lead their own companies, but the startup world is inherently unstable.
To satiate my need for stability, I find it elsewhere: my exercise, my relationships, my home, my downtime.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I became truly bilingual as an adult. This took years and much heartbreak because I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be, early on! Luckily, Spanish speakers are kind people and helped me improve. This is a personal and professional achievement because much of my advertorial and copywriting work has been in Spanish.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I want to see the shift from women supporting women to all of us supporting women. As a fierce feminist, I believe the move to equality around the world benefits all genders. For this reason, I call on male-presenting individuals to lift up someone of a different gender every day. In the same way, as a Caucasian, I strive to use my privilege to lift people of other ethnicities to walk alongside me.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Don’t take yourself too seriously! My favourite thing is to make people laugh. For years and privately, I took myself very seriously, however.
Many of us feel like we have something to prove, right? But our careers, and living as a migrant in my case, have given me enough punches to the ego that it’s now a weak, shrivelled entity and I now aim to prove my worth to no one but myself. If everyone can find this same peace, I’d consider the world lucky.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
My most admired leaders have been women. I believe that it is much harder for a female-presenting person to end up in a position she’s not qualified for. Please note: This is not a dig at men, it’s a dig at the inequality we all face that is just as damaging to male-presenting people.
I could reel off a list of names of people I admire, but most of all I’m grateful for those that mentored me, and saw me as someone they wanted to give a leg up. Those women came from all backgrounds and countries, and I know they’re helping another woman to stand behind them even as I write this!
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
There is always someone less fortunate than you. Look around for women and people of non-conforming genders that you can lend a hand to. I’ve seen this called career karma, but it doesn’t only apply in the professional setting. Help someone, and the world will remember.