(Francesca DiViesti, and Adrianna Casuga, FCB/SIX. Photographer: Ken Tsujimoto)
[WORDS BY Francesca DiViesti, Art Director, FCB/SIX Adrianna Casuga, Copywriter, FCB/SIX]
See It Be It is a program that launched in 2014 with a goal to change the ratio of female leaders in the creative industry. FCB Canada hosted the Toronto edition of the Cannes Lions event that had made previous appearances in London and New York.
Before the event kicked off 200+ people filled a bright room in Liberty Village and the energy was palpable – it was a little bit like waiting for the gates at Disneyland to open – you could literally feel everyone’s excitement. It featured speakers from the 2016 SIBI alumni (Krystle Mullin and Katherine O’Brien) and a panel that included some of the most successful creative leaders in Canada and the U.S (Susan Credle, Judy John, Denise Rossetto, Jordan Doucette, Jennifer Davidson, and Andrea Cook). Wow, just wow.
Honestly, seeing is believing. We may not have the experience or accolades, but we were able to see ourselves in these amazing creative leaders. We learned that the panellists, at one time, were in the same position as we are now: creative women taking their first steps into the industry. We are the only female creative team at our agency and our roles don’t come without insecurities and some second-guessing. We often ask ourselves if we’re good enough, or if we’re going to succeed, and we can’t help but compare ourselves to others. It’s hard to envision yourself in a leadership position when you don’t see a whole lot of women leaders. Even though we have these doubts, the See It Be It event helped us realize that there is space for women at the top. And we happen to be particularly lucky; this is our first agency job and we do have female leaders that we can look up to.
(Panel L-R: Judy John, CEO Canada & Chief Creative Officer North America, Leo Burnett, Denise Rossetto, CCO, BBDO, Jordan Doucette, CCO, Taxi, Jennifer Davidson, VP Marketing Communications, CIBC, Susan Credle, Global Chief Creative Director, FCB, Andrea Cook, President, FCB/ SIX)
Confidence is an ironic thing
One thing that stood out for us was that each of the women talked about feeling insecure – both in life and in work. In fact, some of the panellists even admitted to having felt anxiety at being a part of the event itself. Confidence is a fickle mistress. Here one day, gone the next. This proves something else when it comes to confidence: transparency is an empowering tool. They were open, honest, and let us in. And if these women can find the confidence to be transparent, then we can too.
Everyone’s a fraud, and that's okay
"Everyone’s a fraud" said Judy John. Yeah, you read that right. And if Emmy-Award-winning-Like-a-Girl-CCO-Judy-John can feel like a fraud, then it’s one hundred percent okay for us to feel this way too. Whenever you start in a position, you don’t immediately know what you’re doing (just like us). But you learn. You learn from your failures (we had a few); you learn from your successes (our ideas weren’t hated completely); you learn from others. And knowing that successful women have had the same struggles and doubts that we have is reassuring. Everyone is faking it, until one day, they’re not. At some point, we all just know what to do. Uncertainty is certain, but knowing that we will find our footing one-day feels really good.
(On stage: SIBI Alumni Katherine O’Brien, Associate Creative Director, B-Reel, NYC, USA,and Krystle Mullin, Associate Creative Director, FCB/SIX)
What did we take away? That it can be done. That it’s okay to put yourself out there. That it’s okay to fail, but don’t do it alone.
Point your head in the right direction. Sure it’s going to be hard, but your work ethic will be harder. Being where we are right now, everything is still new and we still have lots to learn, but we have some amazing creative women to look up to and some big footsteps to follow. We need to keep working hard and producing great work (which may or may not include the production of some amazing motivational posters based solely on this article). Going forward we will bring what we learned with us and we hope to show other women the same support that we’ve received.
Even though the number of creative women in senior level positions is small now, the truth’s out, and there’s no slowing down.