VivaWomen!: Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

A few weeks ago, VivaWomen!, one of Publicis Groupe’s thriving Business Resource Groups, hosted a speed mentoring event for women and their allies at Publicis Health’s One Penn Plaza offices. We were fortunate to have a great mix of male and female executives serving as mentors at this night of networking for women in advertising.

I chatted with some of the mentors to find out more about why they’re involved with the program, what advice they gave and who inspired them most in their careers. In general, the goal of each mentor was to empower women (and men) through the example of their leadership and integrity. Here are some of their thoughts:

What would you say was the most crucial/insightful piece of advice that you shared at the VivaWomen! speed mentoring event?

Jennifer Durante, EVP, Director of Client Services, Digitas Health LifeBrands: It’s imperative for a leader to quickly build trust with a team. That starts by being a good listener and quickly learning how a colleague thinks and what she or he values. It’s also important to be honest about whatever expertise you bring to the table—and honest about skills that you may lack. Whatever you do, don’t “fake it ‘til you make it.” People can see through that and once you lose their trust, it is nearly impossible to gain it back.

Aleisia Gibson-Wright, Senior Vice President/Regional Client Engagement Director, MSLGROUP: I think the most useful advice I gave was to find out what your unique offering is to the team and be okay with being different. Wherever you are in your career, it’s important that people know who you are and what you’re great at.

Why did you participate as a VivaWomen! mentor?

Kathy Delaney, Global Chief Creative Officer, Publicis Health: I’ve been fortunate to have had some brilliant mentors who helped me shape my career throughout the years. I looked at VivaWomen! as another chance for me to pay it forward. Giving young professional women a chance to speak to someone who has been where they are and inspire them to keep going and pushing and “becoming” was incredibly rewarding for me—and I’m sure to all of the mentors who participated. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with some of the talented and inspired women I met during this great event.

Nick Colucci, CEO, Publicis Health: Because participating in sessions like the VivaWomen! mentoring session creates understanding and learning that leads to meaningful connections across the Groupe, which benefits our clients and all of us, too. There is no greater compliment than being asked what you think or feel about something. I was honored to be asked and consider it a privilege to share my experiences. If someone can learn from my experiences and perspective, than why wouldn’t I willingly share? Also, I learned as much from the enthusiasm and energy of the participants as I hope they learned from me.

Jennifer Durante: It was an easy yes! Mentoring always has been a priority for me. It’s important to be able to ask candid questions that you can’t necessarily ask of those you work with directly. And getting an outside perspective helps you see a situation from a different angle and in new ways that you may not have considered before. It’s an honor to be asked to share my experiences with others.

Aleisia Gibson-Wright: I remember feeling like I had to figure it all out on my own early in my career. I never really felt like I could ask a dumb question. Being a mentor allows me to say to another woman that it’s okay to ask me the “dumb” question. I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help.

Who inspired you most during your career? What did they do that inspired you?

Jennifer Durante: I started working in my family’s business when I was 12, and my parents treated my siblings and me equally. Thanks to them, I never questioned my ability to succeed, regardless of gender. It’s important to find your confidence and own it. Put your best foot forward and reach as high as you can reach.

Aleisia Gibson-Wright: My mother inspired me most in my career. She said it was okay to trust my gut, because nine times out of 10, it actually wasn’t my gut doing the talking, it was something greater. With that knowledge, I was okay to be different, bold and courageous. My mother gave me the insight to trust myself and not to fear the fall.