How One Woman Went Against the Odds and Became a Leading Figure in Digital Advertising in Austria

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International Women’s Day, celebrated this March 8th, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It’s supported by over a million people worldwide, and aims to bring recognition to women and women’s issues. At Taboola, we’re lucky to have worked with many wonderful women—one of whom is Xenia Daum, the Managing Director at styria digital one.

Daum has a lot to say about the role of work in our lives. Here’s how she went from a time where she rose to become one of the most successful ad operations groups in Austria.

styria digital one (1)

What was your first job?

“My first job was in the research department at the University of Graz, I originally completed a science degree. Later I changed careers and switched to the media and advertising industry”

Do you have a role model?

“I have many role models that take on a variety of different roles, but no all-encompassing ones. There are many people who succeed in their specific niche, and inspire me.”

What motivates you and drives you?

“It is important to me that I enjoy what I do, and that I can shape my responsibilities myself.”

Looking back on your career, what advice would you give yourself at the age of 18? Would you change something?

“Over the course of both my education and career I have always found this motto very helpful: “Where there is passion, you will excel.”

That’s how I did it—starting with my studies and later in my work. What interested and challenged me, I tackled, even if it did not necessarily mean complying with a classic career plan.

“I learned to listen to my gut feeling, which helps me with many decisions.”

I would not change anything. After all—the good as well as the bad decisions have led me to this fantastic job. What I had to learn yet, was not to ignore my gut feeling when making decisions. If I have doubts now, I pay attention to them. I learned to listen to my gut feeling, which helps me with many decisions.”

How did you manage to get into a leadership position as a woman?

“My role as Managing Director of styria digital one is the result of many years of collaborative work and of many people’s trust in me in the past. At Styria Media Group, our parent company, it is not uncommon for women to occupy leadership positions.

15 years ago, when I first took a management position, there was a lot more skepticism. I was still called “blonde business student chick”—although I am neither blonde, nor have I studied business administration.”

What is your opinion about work-life-balance and how do you achieve a balance between work and private life?

“Work-life balance is very important in your everyday working life. Even at the end of the 1990s, many overtime hours decided on your professional standing within a department. Only those who showed their supervisors and colleagues how intensively they worked on the weekends were recognized.

Today it is almost the other way round—time management and efficient work are just as much a part of top management skills as appropriate expertise and social skills.

Today it is almost the other way round—time management and efficient work are just as much a part of top management skills as appropriate expertise and social skills. If someone does a lot of overtime, then the respective leader is required to have a corrective effect.

I personally don’t work on the weekends, removing myself physically as well as mentally, and start again on Monday. This helps me to reduce a lot of pressure, and gain a new perspective on my projects.”

Tell us something more about a situation, project or event where you could make a real change. How did you do it?

“At styria digital one, we have in-house ad management, set up our own ad operations team, and are now highly competent in servicing our own brands in the Styria Media Group as well as external customers.

“Although many colleagues have repeatedly told me that this project would fail…we have built one of the leading ad-operation units in Austria. I’m very proud of that.”

Although many colleagues have repeatedly told me that this project would fail, with carefully selected software, well-structured processes, and a top-motivated team, we have built one of the leading ad-operation units in Austria, whose expertise is appreciated by many partners and customers. I’m very proud of that.”

Taboola has been working with styria digital one since February 2018.