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How I Got Here: The Outnet’s Head of Content on imagining yourself as a brand

WORDS BY MAGGIE ZHOU

“Show up, speak up, be present, work hard and don’t be afraid of cultivating good work contacts.”

Have you ever stalked someone on LinkedIn and wondered how on earth they managed to land that wildly impressive job? While the internet and social media might have us believe that our ideal job is a mere pipe dream, the individuals who have these jobs were, believe it or not, in the same position once, fantasising over someone else’s seemingly unattainable job.

But behind the awe-inspiring titles and the fancy work events lies a heck of a lot of hard work. So what lessons have been learnt and what skills have proved invaluable in getting them from daydreaming about success to actually being at the top of their industry?


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Welcome to How I Got Here, where we talk to women who are killing it in their respective fields about how they landed their awe-inspiring jobs, exploring the peaks and pits, the failures and the wins, and most importantly the knowledge, advice and practical tips they’ve gleaned along the way.

This week, we speak to Claudia Mahoney, Head of Content at The Outnet. From lacking direction at university to catching the fashion bug at a PR firm, Claudia has excelled in every role she touches, though has experienced bouts of imposter syndrome like the best of us.

After spending over a decade at Glamour magazine and climbing the ranks to executive fashion and beauty director, she’s now been at high-end designer platform The Outnet for the past three years. Her strong work ethic and dedication to the companies she’s worked at has allowed her to cultivate important friendships along the way. Here’s what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you do and what’s your official job title?

My job title is Head of Content, and I am responsible for all the editorial, marketing, email, social and site content that we produce and the brand’s tone of voice.

Take us back to when you were first starting out. Did you study to get into your chosen field, or did you start out with an internship/entry-level role and climb the ladder? Tell us the story.

I studied for an MA in History of Art and English Literature at St Andrews University – I had no idea what my chosen field was going to be. I had considered a law conversion course, but ended up doing work experience at a PR firm for three months and caught the fashion bug there. I decided to apply for a job at a PR agency representing fashion, celebrity, beauty and photographer clients, and if I got it, it would be fate and I would give up the idea of becoming a lawyer. The owner of the agency had misread my CV and thought I had three years of experience instead of the three months work experience, but we bonded and she offered me the job.

After building up contacts in the editorial world through representing such amazing clients, I moved across to Glamour magazine as the executive retail editor. I stayed at the magazine for 12 years, and quickly became the executive fashion and beauty director and loved every minute of the experience with such a wonderful team. I moved to the digital side at The Outnet three years ago and it has been a fascinating learning curve to understand the digital and retail space and focusing on creating a brand identity for a multi-brand stockist, and for me to bring my editorial background to the site.

What challenges/hurdles have you faced getting to where you are now? Can you tell us about one in particular?

I think when I started out in the industry at 23 years old, I suffered from imposter syndrome. I worried that I hadn’t got a suitably ‘fashion’ background, but I worked hard and made some great connections. Age has brought wisdom and contentment. Hard work and being nice to people is something I’ve paid attention to at any stage in my career.

What’s the best part about your role?

The people! You have the privilege of working with wonderful people from all walks of life, and also meeting fascinating and original creative minds. In the past year, thanks to the content we create at The Outnet, I have spoken to a roster of incredible women, women of substance, philanthropists, dancers, musicians, designers, actors, broadcasters, comedians, activists and writers who have each individually expanded my mind and world view. How lucky am I?

What skills have served you well in your industry?

You need to be creative and fast thinking, but you also have to be able to inspire and encourage a team to get on board with a vision.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be in a role like yours one day?

Same as any industry really: show up, speak up, be present, work hard and don’t be afraid of cultivating good work contacts. You could be lucky like me and those work relationships could blossom into really special friendships over time.

What about a practical tip?

Think about how you cultivate a tone of voice. Imagine yourself as the brand. What do you want to say about yourself, how do you want to be perceived, who do you want to be associated with, and apply that to your public-facing platforms in terms of writing, your social channel images and the people you surround yourself with. Then, when at a title, content platform or brand, think with the same rigour and apply the same logic.

Read the rest of the How I Got Here series here.

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