lauren-snyder-headshotThe WLN NY recently talked with Lauren Snyder, Chief Communications Officer of IPG Mediabrands, as part of its Social Profile Spotlight Project.

What are some qualities/traits that have helped you advance? What are some traits you see in men that help them advance that we might learn from?

This is a great set of questions for which there are two distinct answers. The first answer is to work backwards from a desired outcome to an idea. When ideas are developed based on how you want others or the market to respond, you can navigate creative and cost in a different way than taking an idea from the beginning and hoping it works. This requires a tremendous amount of perseverance – which is the second answer. Most people don’t work this way, and you need to keep selling every step of the way, but it has always proven to be a winning process for the things I have developed. I like to anticipate flaws before they become realities.

The answer to the second is quite simply… thick skin. Men move on. Men see things with emotion completely removed. That is not a natural point of view for a woman, so it is one that is a good model to observe in a variety of situations.

What characteristics in general make for strong leadership and are those harder for women to own?

Strong leadership requires empathy and mentoring; knowing what each player brings to the table and maximizing it rather than forcing unnatural roles; building a team that complements each other and enables a complex delivery of objectives. It also requires a level of risk taking and accountability. I think it is difficult to generalize as to whether these qualities are tough for women to own. It is a very individual set of skills. If you have them – you are born to be a leader.

What was the scariest/most intimidating moment of your career? How did you prepare for it?

When I made the transition from the agency world into the in-house executive suite, I was really nervous. I would be on my own to succeed or fail; to know the inside story on every decision – good and bad – and to ensure that we always look good. I had always had leadership responsibility on the projects I managed for clients at Edelman, working with the CMOs and even CEOs of those companies, but it was a huge step to move to TV Guide. I literally went to a spa for a week – alone – in order to push through my fears of “going it” by myself. I met some amazing women there – like Teresa Heinz – who not only imparted words of wisdom, but gave me the confidence to tackle the new endeavor with positive rather than fearful energy. I also asked for EVERYTHING they could send me on the company – marketing materials, press releases, big ad campaigns, earnings reports, past analyst reports and anything they could offer on competition. It opened me up to listen with some foundation when I arrived on my first day. The best perspective I can offer is to jump in with your eyes open, but know that if you believe you can make a difference, you will.

If you had to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

Absolutely nothing. I feel that every opportunity presents a learning moment and a somewhat serendipitous point on a fated pathway.

If you could give one piece of advice to the aspiring women of IPG agencies, what would it be and why?

I have two. Find a mentor, man or woman, who brings a talent or management style to the business that you yourself don’t possess. Try to get as close to clients as possible so you know why you are doing the work you are doing and if it is impacting client business in the ways you promised. Combining both these things will prepare you to make bigger and bigger decisions and take the lead in the area of our business you choose to pursue.

What would you tell your daughter if she were embarking on a career in advertising?

The future of our business is in the digital space and everything that touches a consumer is media. That philosophy will impact creative, media, development and even special events. Women are well wired for this business and therefore, they hold a key to the direction of advertising. The digital prowess is still lacking in female leadership, but we have time to address that.