Career tips from the top

Want to get ahead? Want to know what lies ahead? IAM speaks to four changemakers in the music industry to get their top tips for a work / life balance

Vanessa Reed © Ruth Kilpatrick
Vanessa Reed © Ruth Kilpatrick

Vanessa Reed, CEO of the PRS Foundation. 
Vanessa was ranked as the third most powerful woman working in the music industry on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour 2018 Top 40 Power List – ahead of Adele!

  • In the 21st century a woman’s opinion is valued more than ever. Use that as an advantage and don’t be afraid to be confident and know what your worth is. The more you speak up the more likely you are to be noticed.
  • Surround yourself with allies and mentors from both genders – building a strong team of mixed networks will prove of equal importance.
  • Say yes to things that seem scary.
  • Always support other women, if you are forever trying to compete with fellow female colleagues, then it will only get in the way of your work.
  • Be strategic about picking the battles which will make the most difference in the long term. Find what you’re passionate about and push that.


Rebecca Allen
Rebecca Allen

Rebecca Allen
President of Decca Records Group, Rebecca received an Honorary Doctorate from Buckinghamshire New University last year for her ‘outstanding contribution to the UK’s music industry, and her international reputation’.

  • Always love what you do, and do what you love!
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up with your ideas. In a creative industry no idea should be classed as a bad idea.
  • Be at the front of meetings and talks, contribute as many ideas as possible. You must make your presence known.
  • Respect works both ways, so treat people the way you wish to be treated.
  • Don’t believe someone when they tell you that glass ceilings exist, it’s not a thing and you can have more fun proving them wrong.

Moema ParrottMoema Parrott
Moema is CEO and founder of Polyarts, an international music management agency that presents artists from a broad spectrum. She specialises in contemporary composers and progressive programming. One of her artists, producer and composer Troy Miller, is presently riding high in the UK charts with the hit Giant, written and coproduced with Calvin Harris and Rag ​’n Bone Man.

  • Always ensure that you’re challenging yourself. Great things will only happen if you push out of your comfort zone.
  • Networking is key – make sure you’re always building strong long-term relationships.
  • Build a strong, diverse team with experts from all fields and backgrounds.
  • Look around and take notice of the young women who are starting out in the industry, you were once them so build them up by supporting their drive and ambition.
  • Always trust your instincts.
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown

Olivia Brown
Olivia started joined the UK branch of WildKat PR while she was studying – and was promoted to director of the London office less than five year later.

  • Be kind, be friendly and let the little things go.
  • Learn as much as you can, as soon as you can. Learn how to identify people’s strengths and how to delegate effectively.
  • Trust your instincts and build confidence in yourself. Understand and become aware of your own worth, knowledge and experience. Saying yes to everything will help with this – lead workshops, talk on panels, and always keep developing.
  • Build relationships with people on all levels, from different backgrounds, ages, and different views.
  • Always make sure you have a good work/life balance. You will run out of energy and enthusiasm for your job at some point if you always prioritise staying late at the office.

Maria Roberts
Maria Roberts

IAM tips by Maria Roberts – Editor International Arts Manager.
Every day we interview astounding professionals working in the arts. If there’s one thing that’s apparent it’s the sheer stamina needed if you want to get ahead! Flying to New York one week and Paris the next? Here are my five tips for keeping your head when trying to get ahead.

  • There will be times when you are going to have to work harder than you could ever have imagined: try to enjoy the moment, rest will come eventually. That moment might be when you retire, but as we know in the arts – no one ever seems to retire but instead diversifies their portfolio. In fact, now thanks to hologram technology, artists like Maria Callas and Roy Orbison are still performing long after they are dead. (And 91-year-old Herbert Blomstedt is astoundingly prolific!)
  • Keeping going’ when you travel for work is a logistical feat against nature: you will need to stay mentally and physically fit. Sometimes it will seem like you miss a lot of sleep – exercise, vitamins, food, relaxation and meditation will keep you upright. Try to eradicate the word “busy” from your personal conversations; it’s a way of life and not a temporary situation. And yes, you can do all this as a parent.
  • There will be networking drinks, launch drinks, award drinks, friendly drinks, business lunches, and silver trays that glide by with the ring and ting of “Another glass of champagne? Another glass of wine?” – but swerve the tipples and pick up a glass of water; you’ve too much to achieve and you can’t do that when you’ve forgotten names and you’re nursing a fuzzy head.
  • Networking can be terrifying (see wine tray reference above), but try to imagine everyone there is simply a friend you haven’t yet met.
  • Inevitably, the more you progress the more you will have to stand your ground as well as compromise: set goals, know your boundaries, and review them regularly.