Not-So-Mad Women: IPG Execs Mark AWNY's 100th By Asserting Female Prerogative

by , May 30, 2012, 11:19 PM
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Celebrating their 100th anniversary, Advertising Women of New York teamed up with Interpublic Group for a women’s leadership panel Tuesday in New York. The event featured IPG execs Jacki Kelley (UM CEO), Debra Coughlin (Draftfcb CMO), Lynn Fantom (CEO, ID Media) and Yin Woon Rani (UM North America President).

The panelists spoke about working women in advertising and the advertising industry at large. Carol Watson, AWNY’s current vice president and the panel’s moderator, queried panelists on topics ranging from what drives them to how they tackled adversity in their careers.

Their message: Determine your path, be assertive in attaining your goals and accept help along the way.

Kelley began by saying that her love of competition spurred her success. Rani said she "loved solving interesting marketing problems" Problem-solving was cited as a professional satisfaction by all four executives.

Despite being highly successful, the panelists did not have it easy. Fantom said that she ran a company that failed in 2000. “We ran out of money,” she said, adding: “I made the mistake of hoping” instead of taking action. The takeaway: Meet difficult decisions head-on.

As C-level executives, the panelists were asked to dispel any myths about their jobs. They do not like being viewed as someone who has all the answers and is unwilling to listen to others. Fantom joked that she can’t read minds. “I hate to dispel [that] myth, because I like people thinking I can,” she said.

Mentor and mentee experiences were stressed as important. Coughlin said: “Identify with people you work with.” Connections are invaluable -- these are people you will know a long time, she counseled. Indeed, AWNY members reminded the audience that they encourage mentorship opportunities.

As the discussion moved toward combining a career with motherhood, Fantom recommended “taking the metaphor of balance out of your head. Think of it as a cup that is running over.”

Rani agreed: “It’s a blessing to have the options.” She advised the audience to not spend time “agonizing over what you haven’t done, but celebrating what you have done.”

Coughlin believes that women leaders are vital in the industry, noting that they "bring people together. Women in the business are healthy for the business.” She said that having both men and women discuss business fosters “well-rounded” opinions.

Once the panelists took questions, the issue of equal pay for equal work was a key concern.

AWNY, which was an organization of just nine women 100 years ago, now helps thousands of people. The organization is held in high regard by these C-level execs.

AWNY’s official 100-year anniversary will be celebrated in Gotham Hall on October 4. Their next event -- a leadership luncheon with Mary Beth West, EVP and chief category and marketing officer, Kraft Foods Inc. -- will be on June 7 at the New York Hilton Hotel.

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