AdForum: How would you describe the current overall culture at your agency? How would you describe the culture among your female colleagues and what are the differences?
Audrey: Our culture is incredibly positive. Although our mantra is “The Work The Work The Work,” it is “The People The People The People” that make the work happen. Everyone must do their part to drive great work. The culture is supportive, optimistic and full of talented, hungry people who don’t take themselves too seriously.
The culture among my female colleagues is equally supportive and positive. It’s a mirror subculture of the agency.
AdForum: What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling” into Sr. Executive level positions? What are some of the challenges that still exist for women in reaching the upper echelon of management?
Audrey: I think women leaders have made our industry and the work in it, more personal and real. They talk about their families and care for others while also being tenaciously driven and kicking ass. Through their influence, more and more people recognize that the best work comes when the people creating it are a mirror of our society.
At BBDO, we are lucky to work with HP, a company that truly values inclusion and reflects it in their actions. Antonio Lucio has spearheaded HP’s efforts to put rigorous measurements in place that drive real diversity both in his own company and in HP’s agencies. Diversity produces a greater variety of ideas and new thinking which is critical to the reinvention of our industry.
However, challenges still exist. Relationships are key in this business and many men are still more comfortable making their first phone call to someone who looks like them and sounds like them. So, important roles often go to their trusted male advisors.
AdForum: What do you consider the biggest personal achievement in your career that still fills you with the most pride?
Audrey: When I get a call from someone who has worked with me in the past and wants my advice, such as how to deal with a tough client situation, how to have a productive conversation with their boss or whether to take a new career path.
The fact that they use me as a sounding board for their careers is the single thing that makes me the proudest. I will always make time for them and always give them my absolute honest opinion even when I know it’s not the answer they want to hear.
AdForum: How do you find the best work-life balance to help you stay productive and creative at work and to help you live a happy, sane life outside of the office?
Audrey: First, by acknowledging that we are all better when we take a break and come back to a problem with a fresh perspective.
Second, I’m pretty good at compartmentalizing. When I’m at work I am all in. When I’m off for the weekend, whether with family or friends, I’m all in there too.
Third, I have a very supportive husband who encourages me and thankfully likes to vacuum.
AdForum: Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
Audrey: I was an intern for two summers at an insurance organization. My job was to make interesting press releases out of policies. I was not a good writer, not particularly interested in the job and had to commute with my dad from NJ every day.
I learned how to write, how to walk very quickly and how to make the best of a tough job…all skills that have served me well in my career.
AdForum: Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
Audrey: I’ve had two mentors. One male (my dad) and one female.
Both are a huge presence and strong minded. But also real and humble. They made it clear that they believed in me, were generous with their time and fierce with their feedback.
AdForum: How do you as a successful woman in your industry plan to inspire the next generation of women? In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?
Audrey: I hope I inspire through example: through my passion for creatively solving business problems and my belief in teams that support each other. At Omnicom, we have a terrific Omniwomen program through which I’m hosting a panel in two weeks on mentorship and sponsorship. I hope to use that platform to inspire and mentor women who are just starting out.
My advice for women entering the industry would be to first, learn the craft of advertising and seek the feedback of smart people. Then find a good mentor. And always have a POV (even if never asked). But also remember, business – as in life – is a team sport.