Women’s History Month: Nancy Aresu.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are launching a three-part blog series highlighting three women who influence every C-Ker every day. We were reminded on International Women’s Day that everyone has a part to play to create a more balanced and better working environment for women and for men. In addition to celebrating our friends’ accomplishments, we can also learn from their years of experience! Because balance is not a women’s issue, it’s everyone’s issue. It also makes good business sense.

Nancy Aresu has worked at C-K for the past four years. She is the executive vice president and general manager of the New York office. She has a keen sense of intuition and her natural ability to understand the consumer, listen to clients and reduce a business problem to its simplest form makes her an outstanding industry leader. Whether it’s mentoring talent and thinking about better ways to be the client’s best business partner or tackling the many business challenges her clients face throughout the day, Nancy continually strives for excellence from herself and her team.

How many years have you been in advertising? 

35

Where did you begin your career? 

Ted Bates Advertising, Account Management Trainee

How have things changed since you were in advertising? 

The obvious answer is media. There was no internet. There was no digital. There were barely brand planners in the US. We had research people. Account people wrote strategies. Integrated didn’t exist as a word. Everything started with a TV ad (if the client had money) or a print ad. Channel planning didn’t exist. Everything we take for granted today was not part of the way we did business. Our studio did all work by hand. No computers. We sent out for type and paste up mechanicals. And the media people sat with us. There were no holding companies and separate media shops. I believe the day industry took media away from the creative was the day we made our lives and business harder. Yes, there were financial reasons for it, but it doesn’t serve the clients well. Having media down the hall now is more important than ever. We took that for granted in the old days, too. It was a completely different world.

You get the point. And of course, today, that has completely magnified. The proliferation of data, media choices, social media (which also wasn’t even a concept) and the team dynamic is more important than ever. We need to work together to make sure we have a totally wholistic expression of our thinking. Success does not happen in a silo. That’s why our offering at C-K is so strong. We have the people, tools and technology for every discipline to work interconnectedly. Consumers don’t experience their world siloed so we don’t create that way either.

How have things stayed the same? 

The idea is still king. We are in the idea business and without them, we are nothing. We sell them differently, we place them differently and we measure them differently, but if we don’t have them, we are cooked.

What has been the biggest challenge in your career? 

Transitioning from being a part of the team to being the ultimate head of the team. By nature, I am all about building a team. And, while my job is still about building a team, at some point there are hard and sometimes unpopular calls that have to be made that fall on my shoulders. That’s when you have to separate from the team and lean into your bigger role. It’s been a big transition and even though it’s been my role for 4+ years, there are days when it’s hard.

What are you most proud of in your career? 

My mentoring and relationships. I’m proud of many campaigns I’ve been associated with, but seeing young people still excited about this business and turning them into better advertising people through one-on-one discussions and teaching by example can’t be matched.

What do you think about the movements within advertising to help advance women in the industry? For example, the 3% Conference that has helped bring awareness to the lack of female Creative Directors in the industry. Since it started a few years ago, the number of female CDs has gone from 3% to 11%. 

What’s not to like? We are fortunate at C-K to have many amazing female role models that we forget the rest of the industry isn’t always like us, but movements like that start for a reason. Out of need. And the results speak for themselves.

What advice would you give young women in advertising?

Be confident. Do what you do best. Everything is possible.

While women are around 50% of the advertising workforce, that number isn’t as high in the executive level and C-suite. Outside the industry, just over 4 percent of Fortune 500 companies are led by a female CEO, while only 19 percent of their senior management positions are held by women. What do you think needs to happen to ensure more women reach top positions? 

In advertising – we need to continue to be cognizant of the statistics. Awareness is key to making sure we don’t forget. We should also try to continue to recruit top candidates to our industry to ensure that our pipeline of capable women is strong. If we don’t have the right people coming in, we can’t promote them.

How do you, as a leader at C-K, strive to ensure gender equality throughout the three offices of C-K?

I don’t feel like I have to work at it. It’s who I am as a person. I recognize people for what they contribute regardless of their gender. But I am aware that the world doesn’t always work that way, so I make sure our workplace is welcoming and appropriate for everyone that joins us. And my door is always open – literally and figuratively. And everyone here knows that. We are inclusive. We are always dialoguing about openness and we create programs across the network to make sure that everyone is heard. It’s something we discuss and recognize. It isn’t something we sweep under the rug and only discuss at exec meetings.