Team Talk: Alberta and Roxy
Alberta Gunner and Roxy Dalton met at uni. The morning after a big night, their team bond was sealed. They’ve been working together at Clemenger BBDO Melbourne since they graduated.
Unfortunately for Roxanne and I, we don’t have a particularly interesting meeting story. I first spied her (back then) fairy floss locks at RMIT University, where I quickly learned to call her Roxy. Never Roxanne. The proposal came on a drunken night out as we sat by the Yarra river and watched the sunrise. She said yes. And that was that.
We’ve now been partners for over 5 years and over that time have had to navigate all of advertising’s (and life’s) ups and downs together.
We collab. We clash. We laugh. We cry. We love. We hate. We love hate. And hate love. It has truly been a rollercoaster in the best kind of way. We’re very different, and that’s the best part.
Right from the get-go, one of the hardest things for us to wrap our heads around as young creatives, was money.
Yes, the, “what the heck can a 30K budget get you,” kind. But mostly the, “what the heck am I worth,” kind. Because most of the time we were the, “(as two young females in this industry) we’re lucky to have a job,” kind.
As Roxy is the introvert to my extrovert, I’ve always felt responsible for leading the harder conversations. I think of myself as a confident and outgoing individual. But as it turns out, not so much when it comes to money.
In fact, I was so intimidated as a young creative I never asked for our first pay rise, despite being assured we had earned it and money was super tight on minimum wage.
The truth was, we felt like we didn’t deserve it. We were thriving, but we were also overcome with self-doubt. Constantly trying to find the balance between using our initiative and checking-in with superiors. It took us years to learn there will almost always be feedback. And that's ok.
Two years in, we considered moving agencies, which forced us to have our first real money conversation. And even though it seemed to go well, we found out later we had valued our worth lower than what the agency was willing to offer.
Over the years our number has gone up. But while bills aren't as tight, new pressures have emerged. Like the fear that we’re becoming more and more expendable if the quarterly goals aren't met.
Advertising is a pretty ruthless industry. And it’s hard not to feel like a number at the end of the day.
I’ve definitely learnt a lot over the years, both from making mistakes and eventually asking seniors for guidance in the area. Another platform that helped me was RARE Sydney, a diversity conference powered by Google, that held practice negotiations for minorities in the industry (among other things).
My advice to any young creatives in the industry? Ask older creatives you trust for advice and don’t let doubt get the best of you. If you’re getting good feedback and you’ve put in the time at that agency, have the hard convo! Don’t wait. Worst case, you end up with some clarity around what you need to do to get it.
Roxy, Art Director.
At first, I thought the topic of money was a daunting one. It’s something many of us try to avoid. I don’t even like thinking about it – let alone talking about it! And as someone who’s still technically just at the beginning of their career, with high rent and minimal savings—what on earth do I even know about money?
Starting my advertising degree, all bright eyed and dreamy, I noticed many of us had the same interpretation of the industry—work in advertising, earn lots of money, go out for long lunches and drive a nice car.
But this was quickly shut down with reality, realising that if I wanted to work in the industry, I had quite a few years ahead of me where I would need to work hard and prove myself before any of those benefits actually became a reality.
So, I guess I do know a little something about money… I have learned how to stay strong and successfully navigate my way financially through the first few years of my career.
Studying full-time, working part-time, and completing an internship all while living away from home is definitely a challenge. (At this point it helped that I worked in a bakery and consumed a lot of free bread). But I think it’s important to note here, I believe internships should not be unpaid. Any kind of remuneration, no matter how big or small, can definitely make a huge difference in someone’s life.
This experience helped prepare me for the jump straight into full-time work. Long working hours on minimum wage as a junior was equally as tough, but the small perks of the industry definitely made it easier (like stealing the leftovers on shoot days). There were times when things got stressful, but I was so lucky that Alberta was always there to listen to me whine and complain about having no money.
Not only was she supportive and reassuring that things will get easier, she never once told me to shut up!
That’s what’s great about being in such a close partnership, having someone to vent, cry and complain to can help so much more than you realise.
We are fortunate in this industry that things can change so quickly. Pay rises come, and things get easier sooner than you think. Thinking about the first few years of my career as an extension of my Uni degree helped me a lot mentally.
I’m not doing it for the money, but for the invaluable experience and knowledge I’ll gain from it all. And at the end of the day, as long as you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, and when you can start to see your hard work paying off, it definitely makes the fight at the beginning worth it.