When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, Melody Adhami saw the future of mobile communications—phones would never just be used for calls anymore. She quit her steady job and launched Plastic Mobile, a company that would focus on the emerging world of mobile apps.
Today, Plastic Mobile, which was acquired by Havas in 2015, is a top player in the mobile world, with their work being recognized by Forrester as the “poster child” for apps.
Adhami, earlier this month, celebrated the launch of an e-book that collects personal stories, words of advice and jolts of inspiration from 151 Canadian women. Your Turn: Powerful Thoughts from Today’s Women to the Next was curated with only one intention: to share them with aspiring leaders of tomorrow.
We chatted with Melody about her motivation for putting together the book, what it’s like being a woman in the mobile space, and, of course, her favorite apps.
Congratulations on the release of Your Turn. This started as an after-hours project, what was your motivation to put this collection together?
Honestly, although I’m sure it goes without saying, there are many instances from week to week where I find myself searching for ways to better celebrate the incredible women moving our world forward. Ways to recognize the industry experts and passionate leaders I grew up admiring, and that my four-year-old daughter has begun to look up to. But there’s one experience in particular that motivated this initiative.
About a year ago, I went about hosting a dinner series for C-suite women in the city. In my mind, it was an empowering idea, a chance to bring together the hundreds of women (or so I thought) doing marvelous things, mingle and unwind with them after hours, bond over our similarities, and get to know our differences, over the course of many meetups throughout the year.
I can’t begin to describe my utter shock at how few women I was able to wrangle together for the first dinner. Not from lack of interest, but from lack of women in these positions. I later found out that only 37% of senior positions in Canada are held by women to date!
This particular instance, and so many before it, became my motivation. It drove me to think, “Okay, I know we’re out there, and I know we’re doing great things, but how do I become a part of a movement that supports these women, while continuing to inspire the next generation of women—women like my daughter?”
The book collects empowering stories and quotes from 151 Canadian women—from Olympians, actresses, and musicians to C-suite execs. How did you go about picking and choosing the contributors?
Would you believe me if I said it was easy?
Honestly, it was easy to choose the women who stand out. They’re doing remarkable things—winning Olympic Gold medals, Juno awards, and notable speaking engagements, and leading companies from the ground up. Choosing the women for this book was not a challenging task.
In choosing the women, I focused on properly representing our diverse and unique country. I was extremely conscious of including a healthy mix of industries, ages, races, and locations. But again, that part was easy.
Now, coordinating with 150 really busy, insanely accomplished women…that’s a whole other story!
Do you have a favorite passage from the book?
It’s safe to say I’ve read the book more than a few times and I think I’ve picked out a new favorite each time!
There is one I keep coming back to, though, submitted by freestyle mogul skier and Olympic champion Jennifer Heil—find it on page 105.
The book’s intention is to share these words of wisdom with tomorrow’s leaders, and not just women. Why is it important that men also take the time to read this book?
When the book first went live, the amount of kind words and appreciative comments I received was incredibly humbling. Among the likers and commenters and sharers, the flood of messages coming from men especially caught my eye.
There was one man in particular, whom I’ve never met, who reached out instantly to share how much this initiative meant to him (yes!). How he wanted to order a few copies and save them until his granddaughters grew to be 18, so he could give them the book and inspire them with the words of so many successful women before them.
I think actions like these are crucial. It is so important for men to support the women in their lives, to help raise them up, and celebrate their brilliance.
You were recently named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40. What inspires you and keeps you motivated?
Disruptive change motivates me. Of course, having made a career in technology, I’m sure that goes without saying.
But it goes beyond the technological disruption. It’s the ability to become a part of major movements that totally drives me. Leading initiatives that promote a major shift, and getting to feel that shift is what keeps me going. From a woman’s point of view, and in regard to this book in particular, the goal that pushes me further is to encourage more women to move towards parity.
You’ve said in the past that being “a woman in the mobile space has its challenges,” specifically because you often found yourself in the minority in day to day workplace interactions. That’s a challenge many women face in most industries. What, for you, is the key to overcoming challenges like that?
Knowledge, confidence, and support. In my eyes, those three are absolute essentials in overcoming personal and professional challenges.
Support comes from everyone you work with, not just the people leading you, but the people you’re leading and also taking the same strides as you at the same time as you. This unconditional support is what enables us to feel 100% confident. Knowledge also leads to confidence—that’s a no-brainer.
What is your advice to someone who is just starting out in the industry?
Make sure you’re knowledgeable. There’s nothing in this world that you can’t find the answer to. Do everything in your power to equip yourself with as much knowledge as possible.
If you walk into a room as the most knowledgeable person there, there’s not much that can stop you.
As a tech leader and head of one of the most awarded mobile marketing agencies, you’ve been called “The Queen of Apps,” so what’s your go-to app? What do you like about it?
I think this may be one of the most challenging questions I’ve been asked! I have an app for absolutely every purpose—my life is quite literally run by apps. I have over 160 of them on my phone, and there’s no way I’d be able to delete any of them!
So, I’ve narrowed them down to my top 12 apps:
- Calculator for calculating (lol)
- Flipboard for all my news
- Kevo to unlock my door
- LinkedIn for my networking
- Stocks to follow my portfolio
- Uber for transportation
- Instagram to show off my kids
- Ring for my doorbell
- Hangouts to talk to my team
- Keynote to look at presentations while I’m on my way to my meetings
- Airbnb to plan my vacation
- Gilt to feed my shopping addiction