Elena Fridman, Agency: Atmosphere BBDO, Age: 28

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HER STORY After fulfilling her dream of working at an ad agency by joining Atmosphere BBDO in 2004, Elena Fridman's budding interactive career has never been hotter-and heat isn't something the junior art director is used to, given where she grew up: Siberia. "And being socially timid, tone deaf and bad at sports, the only way I could impress my peers was to draw them funny pictures," she says. "It still works sometimes."

That's a bit of an understatement, as Fridman has quickly made a name for herself in the interactive advertising arena-despite starting off her education in the States with a completely different goal. "I came to the U.S. to study economics, but my dorm room was always plastered with ads from floor to ceiling." She transferred New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and graduated with an advertising design degree in 2001. "That year sucked job-wise, but I managed to get a gig at a dot-com company, which was a lot of fun. But I wanted to work for an ad agency, so I was still working on my book at night and taking ad classes."

The hard work paid off when Fridman landed at Atmosphere, a break she attributes to lucky timing and the explosion of interactive marketing in recent years. "I have deep respect for print and TV, but what I like about interactive is the possibility of actual interaction with the consumer," she says. "Interactive is a very exciting young media-the rules are not drawn yet, and there are no actual limits to what's possible. And with more and more people getting broadband, interactive is just going to become more and more involved. The challenge is creating experiences compelling enough for people to go and seek them out for themselves. But challenge is a good thing."

HER RESUME: Fridman wasted no time making a huge splash early in her Atmosphere career, winning the first-ever interactive portion of this year's USA Today Young Creatives Competition, which netted her a trip to Cannes to represent Team USA. "The assignment was to create two banners for Pencil's 'Principal For A Day' program," recalls Fridman, who currently works on a variety of projects for clients like AOL, Citi and HBO. "I just wanted to do it, but I never thought I would actually go to Cannes. But I did." How would the Siberia native sum up her experience in France? "Cannes was hot," laughs Fridman. "Literally and otherwise."

IF THERE WAS NO INTERNET, SHE WOULD BE: "Not sure. Let me Google that and get back to you."

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