Meet the ‘Assisters’ Inspiring Women to Step Up



In advertising – where women make up just 33% of senior management* – mentoring programs can give women the networks and knowledge needed to level up their careers.


One such program is Assisterhood, which links mentees with women who are operating at the highest levels of advertising, media and marketing. Mentors include Katie Firth (Managing Partner, DDB), Paige Prettyman (General Manager, Special Group) and Simone Waugh (Managing Director, Publicis Worldwide) among others.

For Simone, who has been championing the initiative since day one, finding a good mentor is one of the best things you can do for your career.


“Assisterhood was born to address the gender imbalance in creative industries and help women navigate their choices from their early career days and through the challenging mid-career years. We want women entering the industry – or coming back from a career break – to know we’ve got their backs and we’re going to ensure equality is the norm for them rather than the exception as it was for us.”

Assisterhood Founder Linh Diep credits Simone’s early support of the program with its continued success. Now in its fifth year, Assisterhood has connected 60+ mentees with industry powerhouses across advertising, marketing, media, production, research, digital and design. It’s providing a steady platform for senior women to help lift others up.


Says Katie Firth: “I believe all women in this industry need mentors, advocates and supporters to help them succeed. I’m taking part in the Assisterhood mentor program to help other women progress and to impact a future of gender equality in leadership roles."


As DDB Managing Partner, Katie has also worked as National Managing Director at whiteGREY, and at a raft of other award-winning agencies.


Mavens firmly believes having the confidence of women like Katie can change the way mentees see themselves and their futures, unlocking their self-confidence, ambition and potential.

Simone agrees. “Through Assisterhood we want to showcase the women in leadership to break the ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ cycle. It is so important to have someone who has had lived experience of being the minority in the room in your corner. The generation coming through today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and by supporting each other and normalising asking for help we can create meaningful change and help build a more equitable world.”


Read Mavens recent interview with Assisterhood’s Linh Diep and Polina Shilenina here. Learn more about Assisterhood and apply for the 2022 program here.


About Katie

Katie Firth is currently the Managing Partner at DDB Group Melbourne and prior to that was the National Managing Director for whiteGREY and a WPP AUNZ Melbourne Market Lead. Katie has also worked at TBWA, CHE Proximity, Cummins&Partners and Publicis Mojo, on creative work recognised at award shows including Cannes Lions, Effies, WARD and D&AD. She brings more than 20 years experience across clients & brands including ANZ, Medibank, Jeep, Nissan, Mars Petcare, AGL and multiple state tourism bodies.


About Simone

Simone is the Managing Director of Publicis, a full service agency with the mission to Lead the Change for brands with digital, creative and media solutions. Simone has been a champion of Assisterhood since it was just an idea, and without her and Publicis Worldwide’s support of the program Assisterhood would not be where it is today. Simone has been a mentor with Assisterhood since 2018, and is back for the intake of 2022. She recently led the communications for the winning Olympics Brisbane 2032 bid and is building tourism, sport and experiential engagement experiences in preparation for the event. Simone has worked for large corporates, has extensive experience with government, and has a passion to give back to charities. Category experience includes financial services, healthcare, education, food service, and FMCG. A leader of inclusivity and diversity initiatives and a focus on wellbeing in the workplace.


Image: Simone Waugh (left), Katie Firth (right).


*Advertising Council of Australia Salary Survey 2021