By Louise Carey
In September, Women in Wireless was excited to be represented at AdWeek New York. Our Co-President, mobile product-marketing entrepreneur Farzana Nasser, was invited to speak on a panel at the prestigious advertising and marketing event. For those who don’t know, AdWeek NY is the flagship conference of Advertising Week, which runs conferences across the globe. It’s a week of speakers, seminars and panels focused on the challenges and opportunities facing the advertising, marketing and technology industries. With appearances from thought leaders like Sheryl Sandberg and Arianna Huffington, it was a real honor to see our own Co-President included on the guest list.
Farzana was part of a panel called ‘What the Glass Ceiling Gave us’, a refreshing twist on traditional discussions of workplace sexism that was all about celebrating the against-the-odds achievements of women leaders. Moderated by Amy Vale, VP Marketing NA & APAC for Quantcast, the panelists were:
- Anna Bager, SVP and General Manager, Mobile and Video, IAB
- Farzana Nasser, Co-President, Women in Wireless
- Karyn Rockwell, CEO, FCB, NY
- Stephanie Mitchko, CTO & COO, Cross MediaWorks
These inspirational female executives spoke about their experiences as women in a heavily male-dominated industry, the opportunities they had found in adversity, and the lessons they’d learned along the way.
Watch the full panel discussion here, or read on for the key takeaways:
- When women support women, everybody wins
Karyn Rockwell, CEO of FCB, NY, introduced herself to her fellow panelists with a shocking story from the beginning of her career: when she said that she wanted to pursue a career in advertising, her female boss told her, “you’re not going to break into advertising—don’t even waste your time”. It was a transformative experience for Karyn, and she was determined not to make the same mistake with the women she went on to manage. She made a commitment to supporting the people around her rather than undermining them, and to “helping women, in particular, break all the barriers”.
- Diversity is an opportunity, not an obstacle
It’s all too easy to think of diversity and equality as a tick-box exercise, and as something that has no impact on a company’s performance. Farzana decisively debunked this myth, pointing to the wealth of research suggesting that having diverse teams is linked to improved results. “If you have more women at the executive level, companies perform better,” she told the panel, stressing that diversity is “a business issue and it’s a people issue…not just an HR issue”. Key to increasing women’s representation at a senior level is “reframing the problem into an opportunity”. In other words, breaking the glass ceiling isn’t just good for women, it’s good for business.
- Trust yourself, trust your voice
It can be hard to find your voice when you’re the only woman in the room. Farzana told the panel that maintaining an “authentic voice” was especially challenging at the beginning of her career, when she was often told that she was too “bossy” or “demanding” despite her male colleagues having a similar management style. The solution, she shared, was to be “upfront about my style”, and transparent about who she was. It was a message which really resonated with the other panelists, as a piece of advice from Karyn demonstrated: “don’t forget to trust yourself…if you listen to others all the time, you will never have that authentic voice. We have all been given a gift in this world, and it’s your voice.”
Women in Wireless’ mission is to champion women leaders, so it was inspiring to see our Co-President discussing issues so close to the organization’s heart with other women who had beaten the odds to rise to the top in their industry. We would like to thank the panelists and AdWeek NY for an important and thought-provoking conversation!