The Advantage of Women in Leadership

Patrycja Malinowska
Associate Director - Content, P2PI | profile
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Executive of the Year finalists say women provide empathy, resilience and other intrinsic qualities

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Executive of the Year finalists discussed the advantages of having women in leadership positions and shared advice for their peers during the Path to Purchase Institute’s 2020 Women of Excellence awards ceremony last November.

The five finalists agreed that not only do women bring diversity of thought and perspective to the table, they also infuse leadership with intrinsic qualities ranging from empathy and clarity to strength and resilience.

“When I started in this industry, almost all the c-level leaders on both the agency and client sides were men,” said finalist Soche Picard, CEO, North America, Arc Worldwide. “Interestingly though, most of their number two’s were women … and my takeaway was that these leaders were drawn to and really relied on the qualities that these women delivered.”

During a year that made it challenging to keep teams together while working long-distance via virtual meetings, an empathetic leadership style has been especially crucial for connecting with teams and clients as well as shoppers. The finalists credited women’s unique problem-solving approach to helping foster a more humanized view of shopper needs and challenges.

“When you dig down to the actual shopper marketing role that a lot of us support, we probably think even further along the sales path of what [shoppers are] thinking when they’re making the [purchase] decision,” said finalist Meredith Madden, VP, category & consumer development, Chobani.

Resilience is another trait of women in leadership that the finalists recognized as exceptionally vital this year.

“We pivoted a lot of things that we had to do for the good of our communities and our customers. And we still introduced an integrated campaign that really leverages our iconic brand, visual identity and strength,” said finalist Marissa Jarratt, SVP and CMO for 7-Eleven, crediting the powerful women on her team for modeling resilience and helping inspire it throughout the organization.

“When we see someone like ourselves in a position of power or prestige, it allows and empowers us to see ourselves in the same way, which can be truly inspiring,” Picard said.

“This is actually also something that we reckon with as marketers. The brand storytelling expressions and work we put out in the world should always strive to be inclusive of audiences we are trying to reach.”

Several finalists referenced the confidence gap and “imposter syndrome” as hurdles particular to women in business, and shared advice for overcoming them.

“Have a vision, develop and plan, and be clear on what that is and what you’re going to need to do, skills that you’re going to need to develop, networking that you need to establish, support systems that you need to put in place in order to help you get there,” Jarratt advised.

“Be a lifetime learner,” said finalist Kate Garner, SVP, Demand Accelerator NA at PepsiCo. “You need to challenge yourself day in and day out … constantly be looking forward and not necessarily be looking to follow someone else’s career path.”

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“Fall in love with what you are doing,” advised the winner of the Executive of the Year award, Guadalupe Cano, CEO of Visual Latina, who credited her dad’s love for his work for inspiring her leadership style. “I think the passion really shows and it helps you with any challenge you might have.”