Women to watch U.S. 2018
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The 24 women on this year's list have engineered company turnarounds, forged new business models and burned down existing ones. But our Women to Watch Class of 2018 is united in another regard: They are catalysts for change within the industry and within the world at large. The marketing industry is in a unique position to shape attitudes and culture. And this year's U.S. Women to Watch are using their voices and talents to do just that. They are making an indelible mark in business while also making the world a better place.

Antoinette Benoit

Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald's Canada

Antoinette Benoit

Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald's Canada

By Jessica Wohl

Antoinette Benoit, who studied political science "and just a little bit of marketing" in school, says she had wanted to go to work for NGOs. But when her father told her she'd be more valuable to such organizations if she learned some business basics, she accepted a job at Unilever. That was 25 years ago, and she has yet to leave the corporate world.

After roles in Paris at Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive, Benoit joined the McDonald's France marketing team in 1997. Bigger roles at McDonald's France and in the company's European unit followed.

"It's really a dream place for a marketer because every time you have a really good idea, there are people you can convince to try it," Benoit says of McDonald's. While there, she spent four years chairing the company's European Women Leadership Network.

In 2014, Benoit left Paris for Toronto, where she was appointed CMO of McDonald's Canada. Emigrating with two teenage children was more difficult than she envisioned, she says, and forced her to "have the courage to ask basic questions and make basic mistakes." (She says she can now laugh at how many tickets she got because she wasn't aware of Sunday paid parking or alternate-side parking days.)

But the biggest challenge, she says, was adapting from being an adviser to being a leader. "Here, I'm the one who has to make the recommendations and the decisions with the franchisees," she says. But interacting with roughly 300 business owners, and helping them to succeed, is an opportunity Benoit says she relishes. "It's about building trust," she says, "it's about sharing knowledge."

In 2017, McDonald's Canada reached its all-time high market share. Still, McDonald's holds only about 12 percent of Canada's informal eating-out market. To help boost its presence there, the chain, under Benoit, has been "rooting the brand into this local heritage," an idea she says was successful in France.

In 2015, for instance, the campaign "Not without Canadian farmers" launched, showcasing the local sourcing of key McDonald's ingredients. Last year, a video for International Women's Day featured women farmers at work as the word "she" replaced "he" in a rendition of "Old MacDonald"; it also included the line "Not without Canadian female farmers." Every time the video was viewed, a $1 donation was made to Cattlemen's Young Leaders, a mentorship program that supports the country's young farmers. A McDonald's "We Believe in Canadian Youth" campaign was also launched, featuring real McDonald's employees.

And created in 2015 but still going strong today: the Mighty Angus burger, a premium product made with Canadian beef. "You don't launch recipes," says Benoit, "you tell stories."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
A journalist or an actor. I'm not saying a successful actor, but that's something I did dream of when I was 15 and I never dared to try. If I were a journalist, I'd want to write about societal issues. I would be talking about people and a lot about women.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Shut up more and listen more. Don't think you have to speak. And slow down. Don't think you always need to do things quickly.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I changed jobs often in my career. I was always thinking that I would not be up to the new job and I was always wondering when people would realize that I was not up to it. This comes with lots of stress and it makes you make smaller mistakes. I think it took me 20 years to get rid of it and, even now, I'm not always fully sure I did get rid of it.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Daniel Cordier, he was to secretary to Jean Moulin, who was sent by Gen. Charles de Gaulle to unify the French Resistance during World War II.
What is one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
It's about diversity, including the diversity of leadership styles versus the more traditional autocratic male leadership style. I'm always surprised at the way corporations after the Second World War were built on the model of the army—like, I'm the chief marketing officer. I'm an "officer," that's wording from the army. We "report," that's another word from the army. Corporations have been built on this very male, very autocratic, authoritarian world. Many people have had their careers diminished or limited for lacking a dominating, extroverted leadership style. Being open to more inclusive ways of leading is also based on trusting people more and empowering people more. That's really something I believe in.

Andrea Brimmer

Chief Marketing and PR Officer, Ally Financial

Andrea Brimmer

Chief Marketing and PR Officer, Ally Financial

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

To say Andrea Brimmer has a full plate is an understatement. Just this year, the chief marketing and PR officer of Ally launched three separate reviews of the brand's creative, media and digital businesses. She's in the process of choosing agencies to take the Detroit-based bank to the next level—selections will be made later this year, with new work in the two-year-old "Do It Right" campaign appearing by the fourth quarter.

"We had a solid footing, we've done some interesting work but I feel like we could do better," says Brimmer.

The Grosse Pointe, Michigan, native is no stranger to a high-pressure situation. As a mother with a toddler and an infant, she was promoted to account director of Chevrolet at Campbell Ewald at the age of 38, and tasked with blowing up the long-running "Like a Rock" campaign.

"I learned that you're stronger than you think," she says.

After nearly two decades with Campbell Ewald, Brimmer went client-side by joining Ally 10 years ago. At the time, the brand was transforming from its auto finance roots into a one-of-a-kind digital bank for modern consumers, a brand that now has multiple product offerings in both the consumer and b-to-b spaces. Recent campaigns such as "Ally Lucky Penny," teaching that every penny counts, and "Ally Big Save," to encourage saving, have helped cement a new image while growing brand awareness.

"We don't have the budgets of the big banks," says Brimmer. "We've really had to take this mindset of disruption and really outplay the others in the category."

Brimmer is even disrupting the review process: Ally is paying all finalists a five-figure stipend.

Avi Dan, founder and chief executive of Avidan Strategies, Ally's search consultant, says Brimmer's courage helps to set her apart from her marketing peers. "This quality, that of being fearless when it comes to creative ideas, is what sets her apart," he says. "Her ambition for her brand and her advertising is rare."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd like to open a business with my husband. We're really into unique finds and it would be fun to get in a VW van and have our own business—something entrepreneurial and interesting that merges my love for creative things and is a way to appeal to people in different ways.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I invested too much of myself personally into my job when I was at Campbell Ewald. I missed a lot of time with my kids that, particularly now that I've gotten older, I wish I could have back. It cost me my marriage at the time. While we did a lot of great work I'll be proud of, it's a part of my life I can never get back. I would have been better at my job if I'd worked harder to find a balance. I've learned from that for sure and I've tried to pull that into my career at Ally.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Give yourself permission to fail. I would have given myself permission to not get caught up in that game of being in by 8 a.m. and being the last one to leave every night and being there on the weekends. In an annual billing year, [the norm was] 1,800 hours and I was always at 3,300 or 3,500 hours. That was ridiculous.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
It would be fascinating to have dinner with Abraham Lincoln. I'd love to hear how he navigated such a racially divided nation. He had such bravery and did something so controversial, created so much upheaval, but it set the course for the future of our country.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
I'm excited to see a lot of the work being done, particularly around trying to bring women together. Let them have a voice. There's a massive deficit with regard to people of color. The industry needs to do what it does best, which is market itself. We do a very poor job of presenting our opportunities. The business has changed. When I came out of school, there were two choices: agency side or client side. Now there are social platforms, data scientists, technology that empowers marketing, diversity agencies, marketing agencies. We need to do a much better job of painting the picture to make people realize there's all kinds of opportunity in this welcoming and fun industry.

Ayiko Broyard

Exec VP, Group Account Director, Walton Isaacson

Ayiko Broyard

Exec VP, Group Account Director, Walton Isaacson

By Ann-Christine Diaz

Ayiko Broyard had been in advertising for more than a decade before she found her voice, she says. After working at music video production shops including Dr. Dre's Geronimo Film Productions, she crossed over into advertising and for 11 years steered talent-brand partnerships at agencies Davie Brown and Translation. But it wasn't until joining multicultural agency Walton Isaacson in 2007 that she came into her own under the mentorship of founder Aaron Walton. "Aaron allowed me to put crazy stuff on the table, ridiculous stuff," she says.

She turned a lot of that crazy stuff into big ideas for Lexus, for which WI handles black, Hispanic and LGBT marketing. That included one of the biggest marketing hits of the year, the brand's high-profile tie-in with Marvel blockbuster "Black Panther." The team effort involved Walton and the support of an inside ally, Mary Jane Kroll, Lexus' national media manager and a die-hard Marvel fan.

The partnership included product placement—Lexus vehicles feature prominently in the film—a general-market Super Bowl spot, a Comic-Con announcement, a graphic novel and a tie-up with the Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem. Broyard played the master wrangler and made sure that creative and strategy were on point, and that messages were going out consistently to a broad yet diverse audience. "We really wanted to make sure we were touching multiple consumers on multiple platforms, from millennials to tech-heads to comic-book geeks to regular black consumers," she says. "My fear was that somebody would be forgotten."

Ad Age sibling publication Auto News reported that in the week following the "Black Panther" debut, Autotrader.com searches for Lexus rose 15 percent from the previous week, and online traffic for the LC 500, the model featured in the film, was up 10 percent.

"Black Panther" was just the most recent collaboration between the agency and Lexus. An early success was the Lexus-sponsored and NAACP Award-nominated music and poetry show "Verses and Flow," which ran for six seasons on TV One. Another was Lexus' "Inside Out" web series directed toward the LGBT community.

Broyard says she's never felt held back as a woman in advertising, but "I consistently, every single day, wake up feeling I have to justify myself as a black individual," she says. "When Barack Obama became president, some people thought, 'Oh, racism is over. No need for black agencies anymore. They speak English!' It's that big white paintbrush. Our experiences are different, and for me, it's about making sure you tap into individual experiences. That is what's going to help you gain favor. If not, people may see your message, but they may not feel it."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be a personal stylist. I believe one's image is essential to confidence. Learning how to be your best self and how to capture your essence are as valuable as other forms of knowledge.
What was your worst career mistake, and what did you learn from it?
Values matter, so I would say it was a mistake to work for a firm that believed in belittling clients instead of educating them insofar as multicultural consumers were concerned. This was early in my career, so I didn't speak up right away. The executives would embarrass clients, making them feel guilty about their limited knowledge. Watching this approach in action taught me, one, to be true to myself—if you're working against your own values, you can't succeed long term—and two, respect those who want to learn, and be an educator not an intimidator.
What advice would you give your younger self?
You have a voice and something valid to say. Find that voice and don't be afraid to use it. When I was young, I spent a lot of time wanting to blend in and be included. I was scared to speak up because I doubted the worth of my ideas. If I could go back, I would challenge my younger self. After all, if you don't have an opinion, what are you here for?
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Prince. Hands down. Not only was he a musical genius, he was a branding genius. He was honest and authentic, as evidenced by his responses in countless interviews. Driven by passion, he was in a constant state of creation. He was very specific about everything from naming to iconography to color. He was even specific about the emotional content of whatever he was putting out.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
To quote Solange, give us a "seat at the table" from the beginning. That means a position of power and influence, a vantage point from which we can make decisions and effect change. Encouragement is nice, but it's passive. How about engaging, embracing, taking the time to really extend an invitation based on respect and equitable opportunities. I know you said one thing, but it's all connected.

Kelly Campbell

Chief Marketing Officer, Hulu

Kelly Campbell

Chief Marketing Officer, Hulu

By Jeanine Poggi

Kelly Campbell joined Hulu in July 2017 as its CMO just as the company was trying to establish itself in the burgeoning internet-delivered TV marketplace. In the ensuing nine months, Campbell has built awareness and driven subscriptions for Hulu's live TV service; ramped up the company's sports marketing; overseen Hulu's first national ad campaign in five years, featuring celebrity spokeswoman Anna Kendrick; and helmed the marketing for the critically acclaimed original series "The Handmaid's Tale."

Her efforts have helped Hulu grow its U.S. subscribers from 17 million to 20 million between January and May, the company says.

And after the success of the first season of "The Handmaid's Tale," Campbell successfully retained interest in the series by drawing inspiration from the #MeToo and Time's Up movements for marketing the second season. The campaign debuted on International Women's Day and continued at SXSW, where the iconic red handmaid dresses appeared to be set on fire. Attendees at the festival were encouraged to write down something they wanted to resist and set the paper on fire.

Campbell and her team have executed several sports-focused campaigns including a commercial in Super Bowl LII, and sponsorships of the NBA playoffs and the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs and final. She also helped ink a deal with Madison Square Garden, giving Hulu naming rights to the theater (now called the Hulu Theater).

Prior to joining Hulu, Campbell served as head of global growth marketing for Google Cloud, where she was responsible for generating awareness and driving adoption of the Google Cloud platforms and G Suite.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
In my younger years, I was interested in journalism and education, so it's possible I'd be reporting news or teaching young people. The connection to marketing might not seem obvious initially. But to me, it was about engaging with people to better understand how they make decisions and helping to shape productive dialogue. I'm also a believer in taking real breaks. I have two young children, so I'd spend more time at home or on adventures with them. My husband has been trying to teach me to surf for years, so maybe we could all learn together.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Staying in a role too long. I learned to take risks. I was fortunate to join a successful, high-growth company relatively early on. In the first five years, opportunities kept coming to me. When that slowed down, I was hesitant to create a new opportunity for myself—I was just waiting for the next one. I stayed in a role too long, which meant I wasn't challenged like I had been before. I wasn't as productive as I could be, which wasn't great for me or my colleagues. So I took a risk and moved to a smaller part of the business. Fortunately, that role became the one where I grew the most as a marketer and as a leader.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be yourself. Early in my career I felt anxious when I was the "young" one or the female one at the table. I found myself occasionally trying to act more like the other people. In reality, I was there because I was me. I brought a different perspective, which was relevant and valued.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Oprah. A girl can dream! I met her briefly once and could barely speak. She has a presence unlike any I've experienced. I'd love to ask her questions, and would be curious to see what questions she'd ask me.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Be proactive. As leaders, we can wait for people to ask us to make an effort, or we can move forward on our own. It's critical that we're conscious of the value of diverse perspectives in all that we do. This means starting with a candidate pool that includes underrepresented groups and carrying this focus forward from things like advancement programs internally through to our advertising campaigns externally.

Catherine Davis

CMO and Communications Officer, Feeding America

Catherine Davis

CMO and Communications Officer, Feeding America

By Jessica Wohl

When Catherine Davis joined Feeding America as chief marketing and communications officer in late 2016, she came across a finding that startled her.

"A lot of people blame those who are hungry for being hungry," says Davis. "I think I expected more from people."

Davis quickly put her skills to work—learned from years spent on both the agency and client sides of the business—to help narrow that empathy gap. Strategies include showcasing through PSAs personal stories of the hungry, such as the working mom who doesn't have enough food for herself and her kids. Feeding America has also secured an increasing amount of media to showcase such stories; recently started posting viewpoints on Medium; and has been raising its social media profile.

Davis' previous roles included senior VP of marketing services at Diageo, and advertising and brand management roles at Morgan Stanley. Just before joining Feeding America, Davis spent a year at Leo Burnett, where she was an exec VP and account director on the agency's McDonald's and Esurance accounts. It was a return engagement: Davis had first worked at Leo Burnett from 1989 to 1998 on accounts including Pillsbury, Green Giant, Amoco and Allstate. She's also been a marketing industry consultant and helped launch Vizeum U.S., a communications-planning and media-buying agency that's part of Dentsu Aegis.

Feeding America's goal is fundamentally similar to that of her previous accounts, she says: "You need to change people's minds."

Awareness of the organization and people's intent to support it have increased, according to the nonprofit, which also notes that revenue has increased 15 percent year-over-year. It's also focusing on diversity, and holds classes for its staff in areas such as unconscious bias and gender discrimination.

When she's not strategizing in Feeding America's Chicago office or visiting the organization's Washington, D.C.-based staff, Davis can be found on a bike at SoulCycle—she takes some five classes a week—perfecting a new recipe to serve at a party, or checking out museums and shows.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be a florist. I love to arrange, I find it calming and it's creative.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I didn't want to leave Chicago. I wound up doing it anyway, but early on I kept myself from pursuing opportunities that weren't based here.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To get comfortable being uncomfortable. There will be many things that surprise you that you can't control.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Leonardo da Vinci. He's the ultimate innovator. He had a crazy brain.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
We need to make sure that for every significant job posting there's a diverse candidate being considered. And we need to focus as equally on retention as we do on recruitment.

Berta de Pablos-Barbier

President, Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S.

Berta de Pablos-Barbier

President, Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S.

By Jessica Wohl

When Berta de Pablos-Barbier was a food scientist early in her career at Mars, she fed her creative side by joining an acting troupe that met evenings.

"Thankfully, the internet didn't exist back then, because there are some embarrassing photos of me as a comedienne in costume. This is where my love of storytelling began," says de Pablos-Barbier. "Innovation and creativity have played a big role in my life, personally and professionally."

De Pablos-Barbier, now president of Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S., is still flexing those muscles today. Starting as an intern at Mars in 1994 and moving up the ladder for a total of 16 (nonconsecutive) years at the company, she has gone from developer to food industry leader. She was promoted to her current position in 2017 after two years as VP of marketing for Mars Chocolate North America, where, among other things, she continued Snickers' "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign; introduced a new product, Snickers Crisper; and led the "Celebrate with M" campaign for M&M's 75th anniversary. That 2016 effort, which included a remade M&M's "Candyman" song, TV commercial and flavor contest, led the brand to grow sales eight times faster than the chocolate category and increased household penetration after three years of declines, according to privately held Mars.

De Pablos-Barbier left Mars in 1998 to sharpen her marketing skills in France for luxury brand Boucheron and later for Lacoste. She also started a children's clothing line with a partner. But the food industry still appealed to her, and in 2015 she moved to the United States to return to Mars.

"Across different sectors and companies, I've observed that there are more similarities than differences," says de Pablos-Barbier. "It's about understanding human desire and emotion, whether in jewelry, candy or clothing."

She works to understand consumer desires and emotions, then applies that knowledge in ways that "hit an emotional chord," she says. "Are we effectively delivering on our brand promise? Are we meeting an unmet need and making an impact? I've learned to ask these questions of my teams, no matter where I sit."

She's also passionate about empowering women, which she says can be seen in Mars' Dove ad work, as well as its social causes. The company, for instance, has a goal to get all of its cocoa from certified sources by 2020, and pledged $1 million to CARE to support women farmers in Ivory Coast. M&M's iconic spokescandies have also appeared in an ad campaign to raise awareness about climate change and wind as part of the company's sustainability push.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I would be a television or film producer.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I don't believe there are mistakes in life, just learning opportunities. However one of the biggest risks I took in my career, breaking out with a partner to start our own children's clothing company in France, taught me the most about myself. It was successful, but I missed working for a large and diverse company, with broad teams to collaborate with across functions and segments. Ultimately, I made the decision to leave and my partner successfully grew the company and brand. I have immense respect for entrepreneurs and startups and have taken a piece of that experience with me wherever I go, looking to instill that spirit of risk and curiosity in my teams and projects.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Adaptability has been one of my strongest assets. At times, it's been scary to try something new or different, but I always emerge stronger. I always tell my daughter, "Don't fear fear." It's how you overcome those fears or insecurities that show your strength. The mountain will always seem too big, the road too long, but with adaptability, you can tackle anything that comes your way. Always give it a go.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I'd love to have dinner with Michelle Obama. I was so inspired by her Partnership for a Healthier America and Let's Move! If I had dinner with Michelle, I would thank her for her work, bold choices, energy and willingness to transform and make a difference. I respect how she used her powerful position to create meaningful impact.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
I wish it was as easy as one thing, but there are multiple things. First and foremost, companies should be aware, commit and be accountable for their diverse hiring practices. Once we're able to attract top talent, we have to ensure we have flexible ways of working and create an environment where all associates can stay and grow. Diverse employees should be thoughtfully recruited, retained and nurtured through employee resource groups and provided with appropriate internal supports. As a Hispanic woman, I understand I have a responsibility to share my story and my career, and make sure we are committed to make and drive change. If you can see it, you can be it.

Andrea Diquez

CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York

Andrea Diquez

CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi, New York

By Jack Neff

The idea that different agencies and holding companies can join hands and make beautiful advertising has its skeptics. Andrea Diquez isn't one of them.

"I guess we'll prove them wrong," says Diquez. "My experience is in building teams that focus on creating incredible work. I think the way you do it is understanding what everybody brings to the table. It creates magic, regardless of which agency it comes from."

In addition to her role as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, Diquez is a key part of Department W, the multi-agency team for Walmart. And in March, she became CEO of the newly formed yet-to-be-named multiagency serving Procter & Gamble Co.'s North American Fabric Care business, including Downy, Gain and Bounce. It's designed to combine talent from across Publicis Groupe's Saatchi, WPP's Grey, Omnicom's Hearts & Science and others.

Saatchi plays an important role in Department W, which also includes WPP-backed Haworth on media and independents Mono and Lopez Negrete on creative, and Walmart's results have improved, with comparable U.S. store sales up 2.1 percent last quarter and e-commerce sales up 33 percent. (That's below Walmart's 40 percent goal, but ahead of Amazon's 29 percent increase sans the Whole Foods acquisition.)

Creatively, Diquez oversaw "The Receipt," Walmart's 2017 Oscars ad campaign featuring mini-films from three big-name male directors, and this year's follow-up, which used three big-name female directors telling stories around Walmart e-commerce boxes. She also oversaw the widely lauded "It's a Tide Ad" Super Bowl effort for P&G, which, in using different people from different companies, helped build the case for the model she now leads.

Diquez has a resume that shows her loyalty. She left her native Venezuela in 1994 to start at Saatchi-affiliated Conill, and has spent more than two decades at Saatchi in roles that included heading Saatchi Mexico.

"My passion and the reason I'm in this business is creativity," Diquez says. "When I saw the Tide Super Bowl idea and the Oscars idea, there was nothing that was going to stop us from making them."

If you weren't doing this job what would you be doing?
I'd be living in the theater, producing old musicals or Oscar Wilde plays. I'd be executive producer of a play, where you go to a rehearsal and live there and bring all these people together to make an incredible spectacle.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Early on, regardless of whether I was ready for the next project or promotion, I never asked for it. I was always waiting for it to happen, because to me it was natural for people to notice. But in this market, full of very smart people and very competitive, if you don't speak up and say you want it, you might not get it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When you're younger, you'll go with what you learn or what the bosses say or the client says. I've learned to trust my instincts. I say what I think immediately.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would that be?
Bob Fosse. He was a master of creativity because he could create wonderful stories that became wonderful experiences for people.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
You have to start by believing in diversity, not it just being a quota. An immediate action would be getting people from other creative industries, like entertainment, into advertising agencies. After you hire them, you create an environment where they thrive. When I had the power to create my first team in Latin America, it was completely diverse. I had people from France, African-Americans, people from Latin America, Asians, people from everywhere. Gay, straight, everything. It was amazing and we did incredible work.

Karen Kahn

Chief Communications Officer, HP

Karen Kahn

Chief Communications Officer, HP

By Jack Neff

Karen Kahn not only led the PR and communications for HP's "Keep Reinventing" campaign, focused on building the venerable tech brand, she's also reinventing the team behind it.

With the company since 2015, Kahn is carrying out the call from Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio to increase the number of women and minorities in key creative and strategy roles. Today, 51 percent of HP's account teams have women in senior roles and its two lead creative shops met targets for women in creative leadership, according to HP. BBDO and Fred & Farid went from no women in senior roles to 40 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

And Kahn, says Lucio, has played a big role in "helping to reinvent a narrative that's connecting HP to its people, the economy, innovation and society."

Among her efforts were the communications strategies behind the "Reinvent Mindsets" campaign, which focused on unconscious bias in today's hiring—and relayed that talent is the only recruitment criterion that interests HP—and the storytelling content hub "The Garage." That content plays off the story of Hewlett-Packard's origins in a Palo Alto, California, garage and extends into more recent stories around development of a printer for the zero-gravity environment of the International Space Station.

Kahn says she has the "ability to curate an amazing team. We can be authentic storytellers, brand journalists and reputation leaders."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
If I were to go into another career, it would be in architecture or interior design. I enjoy spending time in design centers and exploring trends in furnishings, textiles, lighting and landscaping; it's my favorite pastime.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Sticking with a bad job and negative boss for too long, and thinking that hard work and commitment would fix it. It didn't. The second I stood up to power, power backed down and begged me to stay. I didn't.
What advice would you give your younger self?
That being shy is OK. More people than I ever realized have social anxiety. It has turned me into a good listener. When you spend more time listening than talking, you're able to hear the opportunity, understand the problem and create more effective solutions.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Even before the recent amazing documentary, I would choose Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's a tiny powerhouse of brilliance, empathy and cultural insight.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Prioritize recruiting. I'm convinced candidates are out there, but we live in a bubble on the coasts. Innovation only happens when you build a team that includes diversity—of thought, perspectives and experiences. It's easy to find candidates, but if you're looking to build a diverse team that truly represents and reflects the world we live in, don't just settle for the standard candidate; continue to push recruiters to find the mix of skill, experience and diversity that you're looking for.

Brooke Michael Kain

Chief Digital Officer, AEG Presents

Brooke Michael Kain

Chief Digital Officer, AEG Presents

By Megan Graham

Brooke Michael Kain grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, so maybe it makes sense that her career path started out like a country-and-western song. Kain, who dreamed of becoming a music writer, graduated from Emory University, landed a paid internship at Rolling Stone in New York City and spent her college savings on an apartment there. Then disaster hit: "Before I even started, I got laid off," she says.

But Kain wasn't poor long. She ended up at Sony, where she fell in love with digital and taught herself how to build websites. Years and quite a few promotions later, she moved to Interscope, where she worked in the digital group under famed record producer and Beats Electronics co-founder Jimmy Iovine.

"Everything was a rocket ship after that," she says.

She left Interscope to help launch Beats Music with Iovine, and built the first iTunes digital marketing department.

Then AEG Presents called. "That was compelling to me because it was the first time all my experiences lined up," she says. "They said, 'You can build from scratch the people, the process and the product.' ... I just couldn't tell them no."

At AEG, Kain built a suite of digital tools and technology to revamp operations like booking and licensing, and to make the experience more personalized. Her team has worked with Facebook to build a tours ad product, which rolled out for Elton John's "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour, to help promoters drive awareness.

Kain's mission is to help bookers, artists and managers use data in smarter ways—from learning what people are listening to or buying to finding out what shows they're attending—in order to create tailored consumer experiences. Another goal, she says, is to help give young talent the confidence to convince bookers to make decisions based on data. "I want to hire a lot of young kids with fresh ideas and empower them the way Jimmy empowered me," she says. "Half my staff is 25 or 26."

Kain says she pays special attention to young women in tech, who she says are sorely underrepresented in the industry. "I still feel like I'm the only woman in the room most of the time. When I find a young woman that is interested in digital, that's bright and sharp, that I think I can coach up, I latch on to her. I want them to feel like they have a voice at the table."

"If I was the CEO of a company and I had to only hire one person, I would hire her because I know she could do every single role," says Sarah Joyce, head of corporate communications for Beats by Dre, who worked with Kain at Beats Music and Apple Music, "She's definitely a leader that pushes for change, pushes for excellence and you've got to show up because she can back it up. She can do the work. She can be a team of one or a team of 100 and she's still getting her hands dirty."

Kiran Gandhi — a former digital analyst at Interscope, a musician/activist and a mentee of Kain — is living proof of Kain's investment in young talent.

"Brooke saw my potential and invested in me," says Gandhi, who calls Kain "fiercely unapologetic."

"That was Brooke's M.O. She didn't give a fuck ... Brooke would come as herself every single morning," Gandhi says. "Brooke really showed me this is how you work the system from the inside. She was so fierce, but also extremely loving."

If you weren't in this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be trying to become a pro beach volleyball player or a cook for a living.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
My worst career mistake was not understanding the power of relationships. I learned that your work may be excellent, but taking the time to network and form new relationships is imperative to building your career.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I'd encourage my younger self to take more coding classes and learn more languages.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I'd love to have dinner with President Obama.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Continue to celebrate diversity and raise the profiles of those that are "other." Offer training and mentorship programs. Amex has a great program for young women that I'm proud to have placed some of my staff in.

Abbey Klaassen

President, 360i New York

Abbey Klaassen

President, 360i New York

By Megan Graham

Never has a former Ad Ager become a Woman to Watch—until Abbey Klaassen.

But Klaassen, a onetime editor of this publication, has had a year that can't be ignored. In March, 360i—No. 8 on our 2018 Ad Age A-List—elevated her from CMO to president of the agency's New York headquarters, the shop's largest office, with some 550 employees and heavyweight clients such as Pernod Ricard and Canon. The Dentsu-owned agency is on a hot streak, thanks to new initiatives like an Amazon marketing practice that Klaassen shepherded and 360i's proprietary Voice Search Monitor, as well as fresh work for new and existing clients.

The chairwoman of 360i, Sarah Hofstetter, believes Klaassen is a major force behind that momentum.

"She's the best thing that has happened to us in a long time," Hofstetter says. Klaassen, she says, has the kind of leadership style that doesn't compromise effectiveness for likability: "Rarely can you be universally loved and respected, but she's both."

A Minnesota native, Klaassen studied journalism at Drake University and worked at a Minneapolis-St. Paul magazine, supplementing her paltry pay with waitressing and eyeglass shop gigs. She went from being a reporter at Ad Age to editor and then associate publisher.

Klaassen says she sees a lot of parallels between journalism and the agency world: Both look to understand companies and their challenges, she says, and then "take a whole lot of input, distill it and present back a smart synthesis and idea, delivered in a creative way."

Klaassen adds that the pace of change at 360i keeps the job fun.

"What I always admired about 360i was that every year the agency looked a little different," she says. "The thing I thought I was going to miss most about leaving journalism was constantly learning—and I don't feel like that has decelerated at all."

Though it's early days in her new position as president, Klaassen says she has a goal of showing the market that 360i's model works. "I think we have an opportunity as an agency to show the industry what the best example of integration looks like," she says.

If you were not doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be an urban planner focused on creating more livable cities.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Get over your impostor syndrome!
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Tina Fey—she's funny and wise, and I'd love to hear her take on all the "SNL" guest hosts.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Take an interest in the careers of people with different backgrounds than yours.

Kate Lewis

Senior VP and Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines Digital Media

Kate Lewis

Senior VP and Editorial Director, Hearst Magazines Digital Media

By Simon Dumenco

Lifelong magazine junkie Kate Lewis may not be a digital native, but since pivoting away from print in 2013—to Say Media from Condé Nast—she sure has seemed like one. She joined Hearst Magazines Digital Media in 2014, and under her leadership, monthly uniques across the group's properties, including Cosmopolitan.com and Delish, have tripled. Lewis has launched various Hearst brands including Esquire and Seventeen on Snapchat Discover, has been a strong advocate for in-depth digital storytelling, including documentary video, and oversees a new 26,000-square-foot multimedia studio. And with Hearst's acquisition of Rodale, she's now also in charge of the digital content strategy for Women's Health, Men's Health and Prevention.

What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Out of college, I was accepted to the Rover Program at Condé Nast, a sort of junior training course, but it only lasted six months. I was worried I wouldn't find a permanent position, so I took the first offer I got, at a book-publishing company. It felt magazine-adjacent, so I thought it would be all right. But it wasn't. Three miserable months later, I was back at Condé Nast. The mistake was to worry about security, instead of pursuing what I knew I loved.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Speak up more. Time has given me a thicker skin and I'm less afraid to assert myself, to introduce myself, to assume I'm worthy. I was more reticent when I was younger, which led to slow-burn success.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Media has a network problem. This business is a little like high school—cliquish and insular. If the content and the historic audience are not diverse, then a diverse group of people will not be interested in creating it. At Hearst Magazines Digital Media, I recently began a mentoring network for women. There are 17 in the group, from across all of our departments here—tech, marketing, partnerships, editorial, etc. My hope is to give these stars more visibility in the company, and to help them build an even greater connection to the work we do across Hearst. Check in in six months, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Bree McKenney

VP of Marketing, Condé Nast Lifestyle Collection

Bree McKenney

VP of Marketing, Condé Nast Lifestyle Collection

By Simon Dumenco

A marketing veteran at a variety of publications (Elle, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal and Glamour), Bree McKenney now oversees marketing for the Condé Nast Lifestyle Collection. Partnering with the editorial teams of no less than five brands—Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, Epicurious and Self—McKenney has helped the Lifestyle Collection achieve record revenue by growing existing franchises (e.g., Bon App's annual Vegas Uncork'd event and Best New Restaurants) while launching new foodie verticals Healthyish and Basically.

Her oversight of programs for brands such as Nestlé, Starbucks, Samsung and Apple has helped drive branded content revenue to nearly 30 percent of overall revenue, according to the company. And by bringing in sponsors such as Samsung, Delta, All-Clad and Crate & Barrel, McKenney and her team were able to fund the March launch of the standalone Condé Nast Kitchen Studio in Brooklyn to serve as the new home for the Lifestyle Collection's rapidly growing video productions.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be involved in some sort of counseling or talk therapy. I'm at my most fulfilled when emotionally connecting with someone and working through an obstacle.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I once took a role where I knew that my vision for the brand's future was basically diametrically opposed to my boss's. My gut told me it wasn't the right gig for me, but it was a big shiny title and an iconic brand, so I told myself I'd convince her with my creativity and ideas. Long story short, I didn't. So now what my gut says goes.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To tune out a little more, make even more mistakes—I made plenty but I learned so much from all of them—and to worry less about being polite.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
George Plimpton.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
This industry needs more women in power and more people of color in power. The boards and controlling parties of companies need to be as diverse as the workforce they purportedly want to attract.

Emma Montgomery

Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett Chicago

Emma Montgomery

Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett Chicago

By E.J. Schultz

It's been a challenging few years for Leo Burnett Chicago, punctuated by the loss of the massive McDonald's creative account in late 2016. But the once-heralded agency is reclaiming some of its past glory, thanks in part to the leadership of Emma Montgomery, who's powering the shop's new creative approach aimed at countering threats from consultancies.

Montgomery, an Australian native who has logged time at Leo Burnett Sydney, took over as the chief strategy officer of the agency's flagship office in April of last year. She's charged with implementing The Core, a new approach launched in early 2017 by North American CEO Andrew Swinand aimed at uniting the agency's data, analytics, research, CRM and search technology capabilities with the goal of creating more personalized content for clients. For Montgomery, that means breaking down silos to create what she describes as "blended teams with people doing cross-functional roles."

"We've always had a lot of connectivity to data but it hasn't been as essential as it is now," she says.

The results are beginning to show. According to the agency, it has won 12 new clients in the last eight months. They include some wins, like Campbell Soup Co.. in which Leo Burnett is part of a larger Publicis Groupe multiagency team.

Montgomery's mantra is to use creativity to solve business problems. She pointed to the agency's campaign for the "Van Gogh's Bedrooms" exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago as an example. The buzzworthy effort let people rent for the night a real-life reproduction of the bedroom in a Vincent van Gogh painting. It won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix for Creative Effectiveness last year.

Montgomery says she's "joined at the hip" with Chief Creative Officer Britt Nolan. "It's a much more strategic way in which we are looking at creative ... and that's helping people see the potential of what Leo Burnett can be," she says. She has also built closer ties with external partners such as Google, Adobe and Facebook, all of which have dedicated office space at Leo Burnett's Chicago digs.

There's just one problem in the Windy City: the cold, dark winters. "I'm a sunny girl at heart," says the Aussie. "Every now and then, I'm like, 'Oh my God, I need sunshine.' "

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
Political speechwriter. I always fancied myself as an Australian Sam Seaborn from "The West Wing," although that seems almost archaic given the fast pace of politics today.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Earlier on in my career, I changed agencies and roles for four weeks, and went back to my original agency in a new job and new department. Seriously. I learned to better understand what drives me—and it's the work, the people and the experiences.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Make bolder choices. It'll pay off.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Anthony Bourdain.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
You can't be it if you can't see it. Sharing the stories of the amazing women and people of color—many of whom are women—thriving in this industry is one part, but also ensuring that agencies have these communities top of mind when it comes to sourcing and promoting their next generation of leaders. Initiatives like wherearethebossladies.com are fantastic, crowdsourced opportunities to identify and support ladies who are setting the agenda.

Micky Onvural

Co-president and Chief Marketing Officer, Bonobos

Micky Onvural

Co-president and Chief Marketing Officer, Bonobos

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

Roughly eight months after taking the chief marketing officer role at Bonobos, Micky Onvural faced an unexpected challenge. Walmart announced last year that it was acquiring the e-commerce menswear brand for $310 million, and both customers and employees of the New York-based Bonobos were concerned: Would the clothier change, possibly for the worse?

Onvural, who has since been promoted to co-president, was tasked with making sure shoppers and staffers saw value in the deal. She and her team worked to keep employees engaged and personally responded to customer inquiries—sometimes threads went back and forth seven times.

"I feel pretty good that we managed our way through that communications challenge," she says.

Onvural, who was born in London and earned her marketing chops at L'Oréal and eBay, has faced difficult situations before. In 2006, after two years with eBay in the U.K., she was asked to move to the U.S. to build and keep the digital brand relevant while it faced the growing threats of Google and Amazon.

Now at Bonobos, Onvural is committed to growing awareness for the brand, which was founded in 2007, and has a committed and loyal fan base.

"We need to get more people to try the brand," she says. "It's a storytelling objective." With campaigns such as last year's "Role Models," which showcased six inspiring individuals, and this spring's push, featuring 172 men in a diverse range of shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities, she's taking Bonobos to new messaging levels.

The recent effort was Bonobos' priciest campaign investment to date, with a TV spot running in the Chicago and Austin, Texas, markets. Less than a month in, Bonobos is already seeing some engagement around the positioning, Onvural says.

Andy Dunn, the founder of Bonobos who is now senior VP of digital consumer brands at Walmart e-commerce, says the paradox is that it took a woman to transform a menswear company.

"Micky Onvural has changed our company," he says. "She has repositioned Bonobos from being about the evolution of menswear to the evolution of men."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
Chef in a ski chalet or on a dive boat. It would combine my love of food and cooking with my passions of skiing and diving, along with serving and working with people. Either that, or doing what I do today for a nonprofit focused on a social cause.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
It sounds trivial, and I have likely made worse mistakes, but as a junior brand manager at L'Oréal, I was responsible for creating the forecast for the three hair colorant brands by shade, by month, in Excel. It was 1999, after all. After several months of running the process, I realized that there was a formula error in the spreadsheet, meaning we had produced enough black Nutrisse hair colorant to serve our needs for well over two years. After the initial horror, I went and confessed my mistake to the GM with a simple, "I've made a huge mistake." Her response was, "That's OK. Thanks for telling me. Just check your spreadsheet better next time." The lesson was to own up and be transparent about mistakes you make, and as a leader to realize the importance of creating a culture that allows people to make mistakes as long as they learn and grow from it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Play to your strengths. You can't be good at everything. So find what you're good at and build a career and life around that. You'll find joy, satisfaction and ultimately success.
WIf you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Emmeline Pankhurst. Not only would I love to hear her stories of fighting for the right for women to vote, but I'd love to hear what she'd say about the #MeToo and Time's Up movements.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of colour into its ranks?
The industry needs to comprehensively fund scholarships and internships given to the next generation, regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic bracket, and to provide equal access to education. If we level the educational playing field, from early-year schooling to college education, and even up to and including internships, then we'll build a more diverse workforce, meaning a more diverse pool of candidates to select from at all levels of an organization.

Hania Poole

VP of Business Operations and General Manager, NCAA Digital and B/R Live, Turner Sports

Hania Poole

VP of Business Operations and General Manager, NCAA Digital and B/R Live, Turner Sports

By Anthony Crupi

If you buy into the breathless news accounts on the impact March Madness has on workplace productivity, then Hania Poole is responsible for making some $6.3 billion disappear last year. Of course, that doesn't take into account how much goofing off we all do every other month of the year, and it really lets basketball inventor James Naismith off the hook.

But the fact that our fascination with March Madness Live is even suggested as influencing American enterprise is the ultimate endorsement of Poole's stewardship of the platform.

Let's go to the tape: Throughout the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, March Madness Live generated 98 million live video streams, an improvement of 33 percent versus the year-ago period, and up 42 percent compared with 2014. Meanwhile, over the course of the most recent tourney, MML boasted a near-record 20 million live hours of consumption.

In addition to overseeing MML, Poole recently was tapped to spearhead Turner Sports' new streaming service, B/R Live. In her capacity as VP and general manager of the à la carte offering—launched in April, B/R Live allows fans to pay a small fee to access individual games rather than commit to a league pass/subscription model—Poole is responsible for all product development, business strategy, content acquisition and marketing efforts.

A lifelong college hoops fan (she grew up listening to the late Woody Durham calling UNC Tarheels games on WCHL radio), Poole patrols what is perhaps one of the most enviable intersections in media, a place where the most valuable, highly sought-after content meets the digital future.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I could see myself being a small-business owner. I love thinking of problems to solve and building great teams. My ideas have shifted from building an import/export business to bring in olive oil and olive oil products from the Middle East, to solving parents' problems who deal with cyberbullying. Such different ideas that reflect different times in my life.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I was lured by consulting early in my career—the travel and prestige. In the end, I hated not being responsible for the end product. I learned that execution, and shipping, meant more to me than crafting the strategy alone.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To have more confidence, take more risks and not quit piano.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
As shallow as it sounds, George Clooney. But he could bring his wife, Amal, who probably would be the more interesting one.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Put more women and people of color into meaningful positions. Period. You have to provide a model where people see that people like them can get there.

Stephanie Prager

Head of Global Agency Development, Twitter

Stephanie Prager

Head of Global Agency Development, Twitter

By Garett Sloane

Stephanie Prager is a self-styled Anglophile. She says her enjoyment of all things British comes from an appreciation of the simple rituals, like teatime. "To sit down for a cup of tea and have a lovely conversation—there's just something so special about that," she says.

This month, then, was a big one for both Prager and Twitter, where she's global agency lead. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle held their nuptials, broadcast around the world and streamed on the social service. Prager says that Twitter is riding events like the royal wedding to deepen relationships with brands that want to get exposure during these cultural touchstones. "My role with agencies is that we bring them opportunities that we think will marry nicely to the brands they have in their house," she says.

Prager, who joined Twitter in 2013, was elevated this year to her current role, where she now oversees the company's relationships with the six largest media holding companies around the world. (When she started, she managed one relationship, with Publicis Groupe.)

Twitter relies on positive dealings with Madison Avenue to keep brands invested in the platform and, after a rough couple of years, its ad sales have turned a corner. Twitter's revenue growth rates have been trending upward the past two quarters, and during those quarters, it was profitable for the first time ever.

"A lot of brands, they believe in Twitter," Prager says. "They stuck with us, and today, with the momentum we have, we have an opportunity to go even deeper with agency partners."

Prager says she was introduced last year to an Angela Duckworth book called "Grit," which is about perseverance and hard work leading to the best outcomes. "I live and breathe by grit," Prager says. "It's just this mentality that you have to keep going, test your instincts and trust your confidence."

What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Surprisingly, I actually almost gave up on this role when I first started at Twitter. It was a huge shift for me because I was coming from the agency side and moving into a sales-type role. It takes some time to adjust. You have to have patience with yourself when making a big career move like that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When you're growing up, you don't always feel like you're the best, or you make choices and decisions that you second-guess. You have these voices inside that say, "I should have done this" or "Why did you do that?" Stop questioning yourself. When you're your own champion and evoking a sense of confidence, people start to rally around you and want to be part of that.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Queen Elizabeth II. I just love the history behind her ascension to the crown and everything about her—how she has maintained the crown, and the passion and the loyalty toward the crown. She also had to pivot toward the modern age. Here I sit in digital media, having to balance the traditional ways of thinking and how to apply media best practices with how media is evolving and transforming over time. I just think there's a ton we can learn from Queen Elizabeth.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
We should be digging in, focusing on developing the junior level, the up-and-comers, to take a chance on them. I do believe confidence is everything. When they have confidence and a support structure around them, they're going to lean in and they're going to do more to grab that brass ring than ever before.

God-is Rivera

Director of Inclusion and Cultural Resonance, VML

God-is Rivera

Director of Inclusion and Cultural Resonance, VML

By E.J. Schultz

For most of her agency career, God-is Rivera has been the only black person on her team and, often, the only one at the entire company. "It felt absurd to me that it's such a majority white, straight industry when we speak [to such a wider audience]," she says. "It's the biggest blunder ... in an industry that should know better."

But thanks to people like Rivera, there's a hint of progress. Five months into her role as director of inclusion and cultural resonance at VML, she's having an effect not only on the WPP shop, but the industry at large. While technically part of HR, Rivera touches nearly everything the agency does, from client pitches to how the shop is organized internally, with a singular goal: Ensure that VML accounts for how various ethnic communities will receive its work.

She advocates for creating teams with diverse representation, including those who come from outside vendors. "If you're telling a story about the Bronx, then you probably need a production house from the Bronx," she says.

She's also changing the shop's internal culture. Recently, Rivera brought in an expert to talk about the cultural nuances of female black hair and how "it's often weaponized against us," she says. "[We're] pushed to have our hair look outside its natural state. [We're told to] be more European in our beauty standards."

Rivera came to VML in 2016 to work on social media strategy. Her career took a detour a few months later on a day she recalls vividly. Racial tensions had spiked nationally after a sniper gunned down police officers in Dallas at a peaceful demonstration against fatal police shootings of black men. She recalls crying on the train to work that morning, and that she and her friends "were just so scared of what was happening in this country and how polarizing it was." But at VML that day, "it was very out of sight, out of mind. No one even knew how to bring it up," says Rivera. So, she says, "I got a little courage and I wrote a letter to our leadership at the office, and said we need to talk about this."

They listened, eventually naming her to the diversity post. VML, and the agency world, is better off for it.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be a journalist who focuses on social justice stories and provides balanced narratives for marginalized communities. My first love is always writing, and I have a passion for giving a voice to the voiceless.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I can't recall any major blunders—phew—but I used to have a nagging habit of doubting myself professionally because I based too much of my professional self-worth on what others thought or said about my work. But what I realized is that confidence starts from within and then shines onto everything outside of you. Being sure that I knew I was doing the best job possible, and that I did all I could to feel personally prepared, allowed me to realize the most important person who needed to feel good about my work was me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don't be so hard on yourself and be sure to give yourself some time to celebrate all of your wins—both big and small.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I'd love to have dinner with James Baldwin. His searing and honest critique of society was both fascinating and inspirational. I'd love to get his thoughts on the current state of society through the lens of what he experienced during his lifetime.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
I just want to say that we are right here, and we've been yelling at this industry, loud and clear. that we are talented, we are leaders and we can execute. It's time for this industry to listen to us and get out of our way. Nothing will be a better advertisement for women and people of color than to see women and people of color with power and authority who are already there winning.

Dia Simms

President, Combs Enterprises

Dia Simms

President, Combs Enterprises

By I-Hsien Sherwood

After a little more than a year selling ads at a radio station in Maryland, Dia Simms was pretty sure she could do it on her own. So she founded Madison Marketing, an experiential shop that worked with clients like Seagram and Nabisco. She was 23 years old.

That experience with entrepreneurship paid off years later when she met Sean Combs, the founder of Bad Boy Records who had turned a career in music into a business empire. As president of Combs Enterprises, Simms runs that empire. It includes the Cîroc vodka and DeLeón tequila brands, the Sean John clothing line, a charter school, Bad Boy, a water brand for athletes—and marketing agency Blue Flame. During the 2018 Grammy Awards, Blue Flame debuted the "Logo Remix" campaign for Gap in front of nearly 20 million people.

The "can't stop, won't stop" ethos is real, she notes. "We're constantly assessing what's going on in the marketplace and determining where there is white space on the ownership side, an opportunity where our particular ability to build brands could be useful."

The secret, Simms says, is that while she takes her work seriously, "I don't necessarily take life all that seriously. I am 100 percent cool with failing at something. I think if you start with that, you can eliminate a lot of the aversion to risk."

Plus, she says, she's "a strong believer in civility. There's room for 'please' and 'thank you.' " The people who choose to work for her are talented enough that they could be working anywhere, she says, so she treats them well and expects that they do the same.

With such a high-profile founder, Simms—who in 2017 was named to Ebony's Power 100 list and Billboard's Women in Music list—knows the eyes of the world are always on the company. "For all of the current strife some of us are experiencing, this is an amazing country, and I love working for someone who exemplifies the quintessential American dream," she says. "It's important to show that we're a minority-owned company that's doing phenomenal things. It shouldn't be a surprise—or unusual—but until that's the case, we want to be a shining example for others."

If you weren't in this job, what would you be doing?
I'd be working with the pear farmers of America trying to take market share from apples. ... My long-term goal is to merge food tech, branding, nutrition and packaging to help level the playing field by having pears rule America's grocery aisles. Random, I know, but I feel this is an untapped business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Although I have an MS in business, I'd do it over and be entrenched in a more rigorous MBA program. My mantra is, "Be the master of your own education." If you don't understand something, do your homework! Learning is key to opening new doors. Don't be afraid to ask smart questions, to get new information while showing those around you you're ready for that next step in your career.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I love Larry David of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." He's a comedic genius and finds unique ways to draw the audience into the most awkward cultural moments.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
Do. The. Math. Women are 50 percent of the U.S. population and less than 5 percent of CEO roles on the S&P 500 are held by women. One analysis by Quantopian hedge-fund researcher Karen Rubin showed that women CEOs outperform peers three to one in the S&P 500. Moreover, Catalyst research shows that companies with a higher percentage of women in executive positions have a 34 percent higher return on investment to shareholders than those that do not. A 2015 study from Bersin by Deloitte showed that diverse companies had 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee over a three-year period than nondiverse companies did. In the end, do the math, and hire and promote from within.

Catherine Sullivan

President of U.S. Investment, Omnicom Media Group

Catherine Sullivan

President of U.S. Investment, Omnicom Media Group

By Jeanine Poggi

Catherine Sullivan is upending the TV upfronts. As the video marketplace becomes increasingly complex to navigate because of new ad formats, various audience-targeting initiatives and the growth in content platforms, Sullivan is looking to create a more strategic, relevant and integrated approach by bringing the TV networks and publishers directly to clients.

This year, Sullivan, who joined Omnicom in 2016, oversaw the holding company's first upfronts presentation. The three-day event gathered 20 TV networks, publishers and platforms—including ABC, NBC Universal, Fox, Facebook and Condé Nast—to present customized advertising opportunities to Omnicom's clients. Sullivan's philosophy is that instead of looking at ad spending in silos, there should be a sales environment that reflects the way marketers actually buy media.

Sullivan, a 30-year veteran of network sales who has spent time at both ABC and NBC, already has a clear understanding of how the other side works. It's this insight into the sell side that has positioned her to reimagine how the video-buying process can operate for marketers.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
Working in sports production.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Staying too long in the same job and being too internally focused. Sometimes you need to leave—and that's OK.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Relax and breathe. Everything will get done and will work out as long as you do things for the right reason.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Malala Yousafzai.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of color into its ranks?
We need to have more women and people of color in senior management so that young people see themselves.

Liz Taylor

Chief Creative Officer, FCB Chicago

Liz Taylor

Chief Creative Officer, FCB Chicago

By E.J. Schultz

There's a difference between talking about fixing gender inequality and doing something about it. When Liz Taylor joined FCB Chicago in late 2016 as its first female chief creative officer, the office did not have a single woman in a creative leadership position. Today, 56 percent of her direct reports are women.

"I just felt like we needed a more even representation," says Taylor, who also got the agency to hire more female ad directors. But "none of them got the job [just] because they're women. They got it because they're incredibly talented, smart and worked their asses off."

The same could be said about Taylor, a longtime Chicago creative who has pushed FCB into new creative territory. Her style is to meld creative, technology and data, like the shop did with a new campaign for Radio Flyer wagons called "Imaginary Poster." Digital billboard screens on wheels use facial recognition software to feed customized visuals. While adults only see a wagon, kids are fed more imaginative images, like a dinosaur, as a way to promote how the wagons come to life for children.

Taylor and her team also broke new ground with a campaign for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence that showed a teddy bear morphing into a gun to highlight that toymakers face more regulations than gunmakers. "Making sure there are safe gun laws in the world is just something I've always been passionate about," Taylor says. She has also been at the forefront of the shop's all-important Michelob Ultra account and its successful strategy of plugging the brew into fitness occasions.

Taylor, an avid poker player, is a Chicago native who has held roles at a variety of agencies around town, including Ogilvy, Tribal DDB and JWT. She's one of the city's most passionate advocates. FCB has carved a niche handling a variety of Chicago projects, like assisting with the city's bid for Amazon's second headquarters. "I don't think [Chicago] always gets the credit it deserves," she says. "I think there's great talent in the city. I'm a huge Chicago fan and I will always sell it."

Oh, and if you are wondering, Taylor is not named after the actress. "It's not my maiden name," she says. "My husband's name is Chuck Taylor." Seriously.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
Professional poker player/novelist.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
My team and I once worked on a campaign that began as a passion project in which we were trying to tackle a real, pervasive global problem. We came at it with all the best intentions, but we felt so deeply and passionately about this cause that it affected our execution of it. Long story short, things didn't work out as planned, which was disheartening and heartbreaking in so many ways, but times like these remind us of an important human truth: It's easy to support each other when we're riding the wave of success, but true character comes when we stand by each other during failure.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never take advice from your older self.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Emma Gonzales.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of colour into its ranks?
Be inclusive from the start. One way might be to disrupt the advertising school model. Another could be to build relationships with high school students to create awareness of our industry in general. Unfortunately, this industry is not well known to all people of color and is sometimes perceived as unstable, so it's a huge leap for a first-generation college kid to take if they don't have confidence they'll be successful. Every agency could identify a high school and work with the teachers and staff to have guest teachers join or work with their after-school program.

Aarti Thiagarajan

Managing Director, Mother New York

Aarti Thiagarajan

Managing Director, Mother New York

By Megan Graham

Aarti Thiagarajan likes to say she owes her career in advertising to Amanda Woodward on "Melrose Place."

The managing director for indie agency Mother in New York says she was struck by Heather Locklear's fictional character and her gig at an ad agency. "That seemed like a great job," says Thiagarajan, the daughter of Indian immigrants who raised her in the Chicago suburbs. "Growing up in a south Indian household, the jobs that existed were engineering, engineering or engineering."

Thiagarajan landed internships at FCB and Fallon through the 4A's Multicultural Advertising Intern Program (MAIP) and through a program run by the Chicago chapter of the American Advertising Federation that encouraged diversity in advertising.

"I just didn't have a lot of exposure [to the industry]," she says. "That's what was great about those experiences. ... I felt included and able to participate. All of us see ads; it's funny that you have an industry that is so marked by not being inclusive. It should be the most inclusive because everyone can see its outcome."

After graduating from Northwestern University, Thiagarajan worked for Ogilvy & Mather and Gotham, then joined Mother seven years ago as a "mother." (The agency calls its account managers "mothers.") She later became "head of mothers."

"We're all mothers and everybody's accountable. It just creates a totally different spirit of collaboration," says Thiagarajan. "We're not wiping asses and burping people and making sure their needs are met in that way—we're mothering ideas."

Those needs can be challenging. In the last year, two of its clients have done massive strategic and creative pivots, she says. For one client that had been with the agency longer than a decade, Mother built a new global brand platform in less than a year. "Seeing that come to life, to do that in less than a year's time is an incredible effort and something I'm very proud of," she says.

"Aarti has proven to have one of the most wonderful superpowers you can have as a leader," says Peter Ravailhe, CEO of Mother in the U.S. "She leads by example with clarity, conviction, and empathy, which is at the heart of our creative culture."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd either be a lawyer or in mixed martial arts. [Thiagarajan says she likes a scheduled fight.]
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I probably woke up too many mornings thinking I should have said something earlier. I think I now live by, "If you see something, say something." Most people want to have honest, no-BS conversations. If you can do that with respect, I think it saves a lot of time and energy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I regret not being myself earlier in my career. I think there's a lot of ripping and shitting on millennials in the workforce. The thing I've learned from all the younger folks: They really bring their real selves to work, and not a version of who they think they need to be. That's partly Mother, we encourage that. I'm so proud of them and I'm so envious that I didn't have that confidence to do that when I was younger.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Coming from Chicago, Oprah Winfrey. But then I'm going to defer to Kenny Rogers. "The Gambler" has guided my whole career in advertising, so I'd like to thank him.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of colour into its ranks?
We could do a better job as an industry amplifying and promoting any of the existing programs like MAIP. We need to be looking for those people as they progress within their career, and take time to mentor and accelerate them. As an industry, I think we need to stress that there are a lot of ways to be a leader and to lead. There's cultural bias in "preferred leadership characteristics." It creates a culture of assimilation if they have to act or talk or sound or look a certain way. It's up to us to actively and openly challenge those beliefs and reset what it means to be a leader.

Dara Treseder

Chief Marketing Officer, GE Business Innovation and Ventures

Dara Treseder

Chief Marketing Officer, GE Business Innovation and Ventures

By Jack Neff

It's hard to find a higher-powered marketing resume for a 29-year-old than that of Oluwadara (Dara, for short) Treseder, now chief marketing officer of GE Business Innovations and GE Ventures. On her way to that post, which includes advising 100 portfolio companies, overseeing marketing for GE technology licensing and helping infuse an entrepreneurial mindset across General Electric, she's held posts at Goldman Sachs, Apple and her own consulting firm.

Treseder, born in Nigeria, attended boarding school in the U.K. and then got her undergraduate degree at Harvard and MBA degree at Stanford. Her first job was at Goldman Sachs, where, she says, she took some offense when higher-ups told her during rotational assignments that she had a talent for marketing.

"I pushed back," she says. "I felt like I should be an investment banker. That sounds more solid." But she's come to see marketing, she says, as "an interesting, complex, beautiful field that is ever changing."

After Goldman, she joined her husband in Silicon Valley to help run NeuBridges, an innovation consultancy working with more than 1,000 tech entrepreneurs and large companies in some 50 countries.

Apple and GE were clients, and both ultimately hired her full-time. At Apple, Treseder worked on finance and strategy for the iPhone before moving to global head of demand generation for FileMaker software, bringing some new life to what was then old software. Recruited by GE Ventures, which deals with entrepreneurs and investors, she stepped into one of the more complex jobs in marketing. She also handles marketing support for intellectual property licensed by GE Innovations, and serves as a sort of "CMO of CMOs," advising GE Ventures' 100 portfolio companies.

"I get the exposure to our startups, and I'm also able to bring that startup energy, insight and foresight to this company as well," Treseder says. It's all part of her remit in trying to create a "high-performing marketing organization."

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd probably be producing a show on Broadway or off-Broadway. I'm a singer. Not a very good one. While I was at Harvard as an undergrad, I was part of the a cappella group Fallen Angels.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I hired someone who was not a good fit and took too long to correct that error. It's almost like you should hire slow, fire fast. I did the opposite. And I learned a lot.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Enjoy the journey and don't just focus on the destination.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
Probably Madam C.J. Walker. She was the first African-American millionaire. She started a [hair-care and beauty] product company [in the 19th century]. I would love to learn from her what that journey was like, given all the odds and challenges she was facing at that time.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage diversity?
There's an acronym I use called "R2P2," which is "recruit, retain, promote and protect." That framework would be great to use for women and other underrepresented minorities like people of color. It's important to make sure there's the support network and incentive structures. In order to have diversity in an organization, it's not enough to have it just at the bottom and in the middle; you also need it at the top.

Kelly Watkins

VP of global marketing, Slack

Kelly Watkins

VP of global marketing, Slack

By George Slefo

In less than three years, Kelly Watkins has rocketed from senior product manager at Slack to head of global marketing, where she calls the marketing shots for the workplace productivity platform. Along the way, she has increased the brand's awareness by more than 60 percent over the past year and created the company's popular tagline, "Slack is where work happens."

Watkins raised Slack's profile with hyperlocal integrated marketing campaigns such as "Best Monday Ever," a pop-up event designed to surprise and delight workers in key cities with treats, tips and guidance on their morning commutes. She also launched the platform's ad campaign in Japan, which included video ads in taxis, subway station takeovers and more.

Though competitors such as Microsoft and Facebook are trying to encroach on Slack's space, that isn't keeping her awake at night. "There's a lot of effort that goes into figuring out the category and showing what value it provides companies," she says.

For Watkins, a theology major who graduated from Abilene Christian University in Texas, Slack is a big breakthrough in not just how businesses will function today, but how they'll function in the future.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I'd open a hotel or a bakery in Sante Fe, New Mexico. I grew up not far from there, in Albuquerque, and of anywhere I've lived, I feel most at home in the Southwest. I'm also fascinated by the idea of getting to know people from all over the world, and as a marketer, I think I'd love the creative possibilities around crafting experiences that could offer best-in-class hospitality for people.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
I'll never forget the time when I built a social networking website for an event that happened once a year. This was in the mid-2000s when those kinds of community-based websites were all the rage, and everyone was trying to position themselves as "community builders." Unfortunately, the event had no strategy around ongoing community building outside of the on-site experience offered each year, and the people who came weren't interested in using another tool to stay in contact with each other. We thought the trend was enough to carry us, but the site never gained any traction or usage with its intended audience. You've got to do work that aligns best with your goals and the people you're speaking with, otherwise what you're doing won't have an impact.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don't be distracted by people who doubt you.
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
David Chang. I've gotten more insights and inspiration about marketing and leadership from things like "The Mind of a Chef," "Ugly Delicious" and his new podcast than I have from any marketing textbook or industry conference.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of colour into its ranks?
The first thing we need to do is create opportunities for dialogue and really listen to the frustrations and challenges facing underrepresented groups. We've then got to move past a singular focus on hiring and take a hard look at what's preventing women and people of color from succeeding once they start. We need to create more intentional and clear career paths, and leaders today need to take a more active role around sponsoring and mentoring people on their teams.

Jocelyn Wong

Chief Marketing Officer, Lowe's

Jocelyn Wong

Chief Marketing Officer, Lowe's

By Adrianne Pasquarelli

Jocelyn Wong might never have become chief marketing officer at Lowe's if it hadn't been for soybean crayons.

Hong Kong-born and U.S.-raised, Wong was expected by her parents to pursue medicine or engineering. So she studied chemical engineering at Purdue University. But after she won a competition for the most creative use of soybeans when she was 19—yes, she invented soybean crayons—she realized she had a knack for creative problem solving.

That talent now enables Wong to navigate a changing industry. When she presents to the board of directors at Lowe's, she leaves the creative reel behind and pitches on her data strategy, her customer strategy and how she's driving productivity to best represent the hardware retail brand.

"I cannot just show a creative reel and say, as a CMO, 'I've done my job,' " she says, noting that creative, while still important, simply does not define the CMO role anymore. "That's only one component of many."

Wong began her career with a gig in the engineering department of Procter & Gamble and eventually worked her way into management marketing at the packaged goods giant. She then moved on to marketing jobs at Safeway and Family Dollar.

Since being elevated to the top marketing role at Charlotte, N.C.-based Lowe's in 2017, Wong has made it her mission to better serve her customers. She recently initiated a review of Lowe's longtime agency partner, BBDO, realizing that an agency based in New York, where the majority of consumers do not own homes, might not have its finger on the pulse of the Lowe's shopper. Earlier this year, Lowe's named the Via Agency in the Northeast, EP & Co. in the Southeast and Conill in Los Angeles as its new creative agencies.

"Retail is too fast-paced to ever expect one agency to fulfill all our needs—the world has changed," she says. "We needed a diverse agency model."

The company has announced new partnerships with both the Craftsman and Sherwin-Williams brands, and Wong says new work will be forthcoming. She's also aiming to incorporate more customer stories into campaigns; Lowe's customer experience design team was recently moved under the marketing umbrella and Wong's purview.

"It's fascinating how much marketing has evolved to be more encompassing across total business versus being a standalone service organization on the side," she says.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing?
I would love to be Ira Glass! Hosting and producing "This American Life" would be amazing. Telling stories that are thought-provoking while bringing a sense of humanity to life is such a gift, especially today when digital technology can in some ways isolate us.
What was your worst career mistake and what did you learn from it?
There have been several times in my career where I have convinced myself to settle. I lost my sense of self and believed that I had to conform to the standard set around me versus being confident in who I am and what I bring to the table. It wasn't until I left those situations that I realized how much I had given up. But I have learned from these experiences and they have not only made me stronger, but have taught me the power I have in being more selective in the kind of work environment I desire and thrive in, while also elevating my purpose in creating empowering work cultures that allow people to truly bring themselves to work each and every day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself that it's OK to make mistakes along the way. It's OK to fail. The goal is not perfection, but to learn and evolve. I would also tell my younger self to keep enjoying that pizza and ice cream, because after 40, everything changes!
If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I think about this question all the time and change my answer depending on my mood! But right now, I have two guests I would invite. First, Amelia Earhart. What a fearless, courageous woman who embraced who she was and lived her life full of adventure and no regrets. Secondly, I would love to invite J.K. Rowling. I am a huge Harry Potter fan and have such appreciation for her creativity and the way she must see the world. I am also so inspired by her story and how she overcame adversity by truly betting on herself and her talents and dreams.
What's one thing the industry can do to encourage more women and people of colour into its ranks?
Two things come to mind. First, we must all be aware of our unconscious biases, and to the subtle nods we allow that only encourage gender gaps. And we have to be more open to the idea of different leadership styles and approaches as long as the results are delivered and they are effective. Secondly, we have to find ways to better enable women as they begin to have families. So many young women I know assume that if they decide to start a family, they have to make a choice, often because we make it so difficult for them to feel supported. They decide to get on the off-ramp before even understanding their options.
Illustration by Franziska Barczyk. Photos courtesy of subjects. Web production by Chen Wu/Ad Age.

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CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this article referred to Kelly Watkins as head of global marketing. She is VP of global marketing. It said Dara Treseder got an MBA from Harvard University; she earned her MBA from Stanford University. And Treseder's profile said Madam C.J. Walker started a health-care product company; Walker founded a hair-cair and beauty company.