Harshada Menon, Associate Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai, India and Gayatri Sriram, Digital Creative Head – Delhi, FCBUlka, India are among 20 participants taking part in this year’s Cannes Lions See It Be It programme, an increase of five participants on previous years.
Now in its fifth year, the initiative aims to create a platform for women who face diversity challenges in the industry and enable them to become the drivers for change in their respective regions and throughout the industry by providing access to high-profile leaders, executive coaching and mentoring opportunities with senior figures from across the industry.
Apart from being a creative leader, Menon is the mother to a three-year-old girl. She believes that the industry needs more mothers in leadership positions, to make ideas more relevant and inclusive, and give younger women role models to look up to.
Sriram believes strongly in the power of mentorship and generous knowledge sharing, to enable teams to produce the best work. As an ad professional accustomed to solving problems through creativity, she’s convinced that the industry’s diversity issues can be addressed through the same creative approach.
“This initiative was launched to address the issue of gender disparity in the senior levels of the creative industry. While there has been some progress, the dial is moving far too slowly and by supporting exceptional female talent we believe we’ll help shift the balance. Over the years of running See It Be It we have been absolutely blown away by the power of the community of women that have been involved with the programme, so many of whom have gone on to become advocates for change and role models for the next generation. This year, the quantity and quality of applications has led us to add five additional places,” said Louise Benson, Cannes Lions’ Executive Lead on See It Be It.
“The programme brings them together to learn from current industry leaders and one another. And this year we have a fantastic partner in Spotify to help enhance the experience and expand it beyond the onsite experience at Cannes Lions.”
As special guests of Cannes Lions, the group receives a curated programme of events including executive training, creative masterclasses, an insider tour of a Cannes Lions jury room, exclusive networking opportunities and mentoring from some of the most successful leaders in the global branded communications industry. Travel, accommodation and a Complete Festival pass are also included for a career changing experience.
This year’s See It Be It Ambassador, Chloe Gottlieb, Chief Creative Officer, R/GA will lead the group onsite and provide counsel and guidance for the 20 women. Speaking on the announcement Chloe said, “Each one of these talented women has overcome significant barriers to arrive at this moment. Helping them stay the course to realize their potential means our entire industry benefits from their leadership. When they see us, they see what is possible. When we see them, we see a brighter future.”
Other 2018 participants:
Sally Alzaza, Senior Art Director, J. Walter Thompson MEA, Lebanon
A big dreamer, in love with detail, Sally is never content with the status quo, but always looks to travel further, revelling in new learnings that help her pay it forward and achieve her goals.
Rita Anyango, Creative Director, Project Manager, Crossroads Digital Multimedia, Uganda
Rita is an animation writer, director, ICT4D advocate, and Co- Founder of Women in Animation Uganda. In 2017, she initiated a collaboration with SPIDER (DSV) to promote training for women in technical areas of animation and raise awareness of the capabilities of deaf animators
Lama Bawadi, Senior Copywriter, Leo Burnett Beirut, Lebanon
Lama’s passion is the drive to work hard on campaigns that she truly believes in, that will initiate change in our society, many of which hold the causes of gender equality and women empowerment at their core.
Dominique Curtis, Senior Copywriter, R/GA Austin, USA
An award-wining senior copywriter at R/GA Austin, Dominique has spent her career writing for some of the world’s leading brands and has spoken at industry events including SXSW.
Deniz Dülgeroğlu, Copywriter, Rafineri Ad Agency, Turkey
A creative soul who once trapped in an oral surgeons' body, Deniz now writes films for television, online and develops digital projects. Her fighting spirit drives her to becoming part of the change in Turkey and make space for others coming up.
Karen Ferry, Senior Copywriter, Leo Burnett Sydney, Australia
As national co-head of AWARD School, Karen has been instrumental in changing the face of advertising and the makeup of the people entering the industry. She is a regular panellist on Australia’s national TV show ‘Gruen’ and has appeared on Australia’s #1 podcast ‘The Pineapple Project.’
Jessica Gomes, Digital Copywriter, Lapis Raro, Brazil
Jessica believes in the power of information and that having access to it empowers people. As such she is one of the founders of Navaranda: a communications, connections and knowledge platform for women, which hosts host Ladies, Wine and Design BH and promotes Museu das Minas and Saúde Sem Tabus.
Lauren Haberfield, Art Director, McCann Paris, France
As an Australian art director living in Paris, Lauren loves a good contradiction. With the unrelenting belief that women and middle aged men can coexist in our industry, she is determined to turn the hype around gender equality into action, so that the next generation of kickass women can focus on something else.
Leah Juaymah Mababangloob, Senior Art Director, LEGO System A/S, Denmark
Leah started out as a digital art director and has since worked in different advertising agencies in the Philippines and Singapore before moving to Denmark. She considers landing a job in LEGO a dream come true and fell in love with the company’s mantra “Only the best is good enough”. She thinks being creative is mostly being brave - and that being brave can be learned and even passed on.
Maribel Maneiro, Creative Director from Agency Raya, Chile
As a Venezuelan living in Chile, Maribel’s goal as a Creative Director is to change the stereotypes in branded communications and give brands a purpose as a positive constructor in the society.
Melanie Matlock, Copywriter, J. Walter Thompson Atlanta, USA
Melanie is a conceptually-driven copywriter with a passion for helping brands see themselves differently. She has shared her experience by speaking at events such as “AFC Live: How Did I Get Here?” and has also served as a MAIP mentor in the hope of giving back what the industry has given her thus far.
Prajakta More, Conceptual Creative, Geometry Global, Dubai, UAE
Prajakta is a first generation working woman in her family, who left her career in engineering to become a copywriter. She firmly believes that the best work transcends advertising and creates something far more valuable for people. She is also a founder of Blank Paper Project, a platform for women artists who have pushed boundaries of current thinking through their work.
Lydia Pang, Creative Director, Refinery29, USA
Lydia is a self-described "Art History Geek and Feminist, Frankenstein Creative." Her personal mission is to use visual communication as a tool for good, highlighting a brand’s responsibility to provoke thought, shift perceptions and behaviour.
Meghan Patenaude, Art Supervisor, McCann Health New York, USA
Meghan is a creative in healthcare advertising who strives to push the industry forward through meaningful work that has a societal impact. She has worked in various disease categories to produce work that makes us look at a disease differently and her role as a stand-up comedian has helped her to further educate people about health through humour to inspire change and spread awareness
Alexandra Sobiecki, Associate Creative Director, Spotify, USA
Alexandra focuses on disruptive thinking to generate ideas that get talked about. Currently she is making her mark in the music industry at Spotify where she and her team strive to unlock the potential of human creativity by helping fans and the creative community. She has spoken at a 3% Conference, D&AD Young Blood and University programmes.
Erica Stevens, Senior Art Director, Translation, USA
As a creative, Erica helps mentor numerous young women and is passionate about female representation and reaching industry wide equality. She believes creativity is a true catalyst for change and the stories we tell should make a positive social impact.
Alexandra Vaca, Associate Creative Director, Commonwealth//McCann, Ecuador
Formed as a journalist and turned into a creative copywriter, Alexandra is also a weekend photographer and feminist advocate and is passionate about making Ecuadorian’s advertising market a more inclusive and diverse place.
Simina Zidaru, Senior Copywriter, MullenLowe, Romania
The founder and member of the experimental theatre movement, Ingenious Drama, Simina has brought to life over 5 editions of the drama festival for teenagers. A regular guest on Apropo TV, the most important Romanian Advertising TV show, she is a true believer in integrated campaigns and that her duty is to make people smile or think about new ideas, even just for a moment.