Women to Watch

Women to Watch: Nicola Mendelsohn, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising; Karmarama

Diverse Challenges and Interests -- From Charities to the Latest in Theater -- Help This Top Ad Woman Bbecome 'Better at Everything'

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Nicola Mendelsohn is chairman and partner of independent London ad agency Karmarama, and president of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising. She also holds senior roles at two women's charities -- Women's Aid and White Ribbon -- and manages all this working only four days a week. The other three days of the week are pretty full, too. She has four children, and thinks nothing of cooking for between 20 and 50 guests every weekend at her North London home. Even then, she still finds time to keep up with the latest box-sets, movies, theater, books and -- in her idle moments -- isn't too highbrow to enjoy a good fashion magazine.

Nicola Mendelsohn
Nicola Mendelsohn

Despite being drawn to so many diverse challenges and interests, Ms. Mendelsohn comes across as hugely focused. "All the stimulation makes you better at everything," she said. "You can cross-fertilize, and that makes you more efficient."

Ms. Mendelsohn took on her IPA role in April -- the first woman president in the ad group's 94-year history -- because, she said, "I'm the most optimistic person you'll ever meet. I don't like to stand at the sidelines and grumble."

Already she has set up partnerships with Google, Facebook and the BBC aimed at training individuals in the digital skills needed to take the industry forward. "If these companies share their innovations with us, then we will be better placed to create what they need in the future," she said.

Ms. Mendelsohn, 39, is famously the best-connected person in the U.K. business. When she was president of the Women's Advertising Club of London, she persuaded personal friend Gordon Brown (who was prime minister at the time) and supermodel Elle McPherson, among others to speak at a WACL lunches.

"I love people," she said. "I'm interested in people, and I don't see networking as a dirty word. Something good always happens when you bring interesting people together."

Stephen Miron, CEO of Global Radio and a client of Karmarama, said, "Nicola is an exceptional businesswoman with a great entrepreneurial spirit. ... Given that she's got a large family and also does incredible work with charity, I'd describe her as a superwoman."

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