Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018, Catherine Gudvangen

"The biggest challenge? We’re still using a chisel instead of an ice pick."

Catherine Gudvangen
Executive Producer Schiefer Chopshop

Perspectives: Women in Advertising 2018

Tell us about who you are and what your job title is?
Catherine Gudvangen, Executive Producer, Schiefer Chopshop
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
I graduated from high school with an acceptance letter to the Santa Clara University and no resources to get myself there. I searched desperately for a job and found a receptionist job at a radio station in Concord, CA and quickly realized that at a short-staffed radio station there was no limit to what I could learn and do. I learned how to program music, ran the front office, wrote promos, recorded public service announcements, hosted a news consortium, trafficked spots, built sales decks, rewired sound boards, created contests and remote broadcasts and didn’t stop until I had soaked in every single bit of knowledge that I could. I didn’t ask for permission; I just did it. And because I did it in a way that added value, no one cared that I was getting all of that education and training for free. I learned so much, but most of all I learned that if I was very quiet and listened hard and watched carefully, I could tackle anything. I didn’t have to wait for someone else to hand me my success.
What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?
The biggest change? Women standing up for what’s right. I’m not just talking about harassment and injustice; I’m talking about bringing in a new era of younger talent, men and women, and mentoring them properly, teaching them how to behave and be effective in the workplace. There’s a greater understanding that we are all on the same team, striving to achieve the same goals for our shops and our clients.

The biggest challenge? We’re still using a chisel instead of an ice pick.
From Like A Girl to Fearless Girl, a raft of advertising campaigns have set out to empower women. How do you feel about these campaigns? Can they change attitudes within the industry?
I believe it’s the other way around - I think that instead, industry attitudes had to change in order to create these campaigns. Obviously, these campaigns have the self-serving purpose to expand markets and create awareness - but there has to be some baseline acknowledgement that women matter, girls matter, in order to shift industry focus towards developing creative that shines a spotlight on the empowerment of women.
Initiatives such as Free The Bid are trying to create more opportunities for women in advertising. But what could be done at a more grass roots level to attract women in the first place?
We have to start earlier. We have to start mentoring young women in their early years of high school. Women who can make a difference in our industry are making their career choices that early - and they need industry experience to build their resumes so that they can even be considered qualified enough to be placed on a search website. No one is going to hire an unqualified person to work on a campaign; that would be irresponsible to our clients. Let’s build up the next generation of directors, copywriters, art directors and photographers and give them real world internship and job opportunities so that they can not only be listed on awesome search sites, but also be awarded those jobs more easily. Say yes to the career fairs at your alma maters and then follow up with real mentorship.
In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?
I knew a teacher who told me that he did not smile at his students before Thanksgiving. It takes that long to build respect. So be friendly, not familiar. Be bold, even if you don’t feel it inside. Be brilliant, even if you are having a bad day. Be your best - for yourself, your shop and your projects and clients. And never, ever doubt that you have a voice.

Catherine Gudvangen
Executive Producer Schiefer Chopshop