India's independent creative director Geetanjali Jaiswal among Cannes Lions 'See It Be It' finalists

15 women will join the talent accelerator initiative that will run as a virtual learning and mentoring programme in 2020 and return to the fest in 2021. FCBUlka's Swati Bhattacharya is the Ambassador of the programme

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India's independent creative director Geetanjali Jaiswal among Cannes Lions 'See It Be It' finalists

Cannes Lions has announced the finalists of ‘See It Be It 2020-2021’. Fifteen aspiring women from across the world have been selected to join the unique talent accelerator initiative that will run as a virtual learning and mentoring programme in 2020 and return to the festival in 2021.

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See It Be It, in partnership with audio streaming platform Spotify, is a Cannes Lions initiative aiming to achieve equal gender representation of creative directors and leaders across the global industry.

A record-breaking number of 797 applications from 70 countries were received in 2020.

The programme is designed to accelerate women into senior creative roles and the 15 selected participants each receive a VIP Cannes Lions experience. This includes a complimentary pass, accommodation and travel to attend the festival in 2021. The curated programme comprises one-to-one mentoring sessions, networking events, masterclasses and workshops as well as access to some of the industry’s most influential leaders. As the official See It Be It partner, Spotify enables the programme to come to life through curated initiatives and a series of year-round events.

Louise Benson, Festival Director and VP Events, Cannes Lions, said, “We will support our See It Be It community in the coming weeks and months through new and exciting virtual events, Lions Live, and the Festival in June 2021. See It Be It is an instrumental initiative in Cannes Lions’ response to the gender imbalance that exists within the global creative community. The community has evolved into a global movement of women and the impact of the programme has reached far beyond the Festival week.”

The theme for the 2020-2021 See It Be It programme is Feminine Leadership. Swati Bhattacharya, Chief Creative Officer, FCBUlka, and the 2020 See It Be It Ambassador, said, “Women are amazing input givers, devil’s advocates and intangibility readers and all storytelling benefits from our diverse perspectives. Feminine leadership uses the female instinct to nurture an organisation or a department, like a mama lioness. When women suppress their female instinct, it’s like a creative hara-kiri.”

Dawn Ostroff, Chief Content and Advertising Business Officer at Spotify and See It Be It mentor, added, “Changing the conversation around equality in the workplace requires that we support and mentor one another in all phases of our careers. Mentorship is a role that we must take on each day, and it’s something that has played a vital role throughout my time in the industry. We’re proud to partner with Cannes Lions’ See It Be It to ensure that this incredible experience is offered to female creative leaders through a virtual platform, and that our efforts continue to educate and empower others.”

The 15 female finalists are:

Geetanjali Jaiswal, Independent Creative Director, India

Roxana Nita, Group Creative Director, Cheil Romania

Andrea Auz, Creative Director, Paper, Ecuador

Leticia Rodrigues, Senior Art Director, Wunderman Thompson, Brazil

Javiera Wuth, Senior Copywriter, McCann, Chile

Ana Carolina Gomez Guzman, Social Media Director, Together W/, Mexico

Rosa Guerrero Cabral, Creative Supervisor, Publicis Dominicana, Dominican Republic

Lauren Ferreira, Creative Director, Droga5, USA

Tescia Deák, Creative Director, Grey West, USA

Mica Gallino, Creative Director, JOAN Creative, USA

Ellen Fromm, Senior Copywriter, Colenso BBDO, New Zealand

Rachel Chew, Creative Group Head, BLKJ, Singapore

Allie Steel, Senior Copywriter, M&C Saatchi, Australia

Denise Tee, Creative Director, Wunderman Thompson, Hong Kong

Nedal Ahmed, Senior Writer, 72andSunny Amsterdam, Netherlands

The 15 women have already taken part in a mentoring scheme with Invisible Creatives, the talent platform that supports the underrepresented creative talent created by Senta Slingerland, the founder of See It Be It and Maddy Kramer, ACD Art Director, who participated in the inaugural See It Be It programme in 2014.

Offering a talent database, job board and mentorship scheme, the mentor-at-home initiative aims to make mentorship more accessible and is an online, speed-dating style event where five mentees are matched with five mentors.

Louise Benson, Festival Director and VP Events, Cannes Lions, added, “Many of our alumni have ascended the professional ladder and championed change in their organisations, countries and regions. It’s so exciting to welcome our 15 hugely talented creative females to the See It Be It community and to watch their future paths unfold.”

To date, over 100 women have gained a fully-funded place on the programme and many alumni have progressed into leadership positions, won Lions awards and held positions on Cannes Lions juries. To cultivate a community and global network of support and learning, the See It Be It events series has now reached over 4,000 women in countries, including the US, Canada, Singapore, Nigeria, Bulgaria, UK, Australia and Pakistan. The programme will be led by Ambassador Swati Bhattacharya, and Madonna Badger, CCO and founder of Badger & Winters, will remain the See It Be It Chair.

As Ambassador, Swati Bhattacharya will guide and advise the 15 finalists. Bhattacharya was appointed as last year’s Ambassador, but due to a serious personal incident, she was not able to travel from India to take up her position. Swati will work with See It Be It Chair Madonna Badger to deliver the programme.

Bhattacharya is one of India’s most influential female CCOs, leading a team of 113 people at FCBUlka, and working on brands as diverse as Unilever, Dominos, Times of India, ITC and DSM.

Madonna Badger is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Badger & Winters, an advertising, branding and design agency that was named a 2019 Ad Age Small Agency Award winner. Badger has been at the heart of See It Be It for many years and is central to the programme’s expansion.

Cannes Lions See It Be It Geetanjali Jaiswal