Cultural Independence: INDIE's Catherine Talpey, Managing Director

There’s not really a separate female culture here – the independence is stronger than any gender-specific culture that could surface.

Catherine Talpey
Managing Director INDIE

How would you describe the overall culture at your agency and would you say that there is a separate female culture?         

The overall culture at INDIE is one of independent souls. We are a completely independent agency and everyone here thrives on the freedom that comes with that. Because we’re small, everyone has to possess a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an adaptability to constantly changing workload and types of assignments. There’s not really a separate female culture here – the independence is stronger than any gender-specific culture that could surface.

In your opinion, what do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”? 

I see more and more wonderfully talented women breaking off on their own and starting their own agencies, which has a trickle-down effect on their staff as well as on their industry colleagues. When their staff and their colleagues see that women can run an agency, it makes female leadership normal and expected.

What are some of the challenges that women still face in the industry?

The same challenges as anywhere else – top management is skewed male, there is still a boys club mentality in a lot of industries (though I think much less so now in advertising than in the past), and working women who want to raise children still face the same challenges regarding child care affordability and the desire to have both a career and to spend enough quality time with their children.

What steps do you take to ensure you achieve a healthy work-life balance?  

I don’t let stress and problems at work get to me personally, and I have chosen to live in Europe for a good part of my career. The work-life balance in Europe is generally very good and is an assumed way of life - you don’t have to fight for it or justify it.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

The fact that I have worked in so many places around the world (7 different countries) and have always given priority to quality of life and job satisfaction rather than the size of a paycheck – my experience in so many different cultures around the world has taught me that these things are not dependent on each other.

Tell us about a mentor that helped guide you in your career. What made them so special?            

I would say one former boss and one former client have had the most positive effects on me. They were both very supportive of me but, more importantly, they were inspiring to watch and learn from due to their strong business skills but also their soft skill sets. And they were strong, but not jerks. You don’t have to be a jerk to get ahead – firm, yes – but not a jerk.

How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women?

By leading by example. By helping them learn and grow and develop their professional skill sets as people, not as a gender. But honestly, the young women I work with now don’t need any different coaching than the young men I work with, and I don’t treat them any differently.