Perspectives: Women in Advertising: Christine Lee, Senior Strategy Director at Eventive Marketing

We would like to thank Christine Lee, Senior Strategy Director at Eventive Marketing for taking the time to participate in this interview series and provide her insights.

 

AdForum: How would you describe the current overall culture at your agency? How would you describe the culture among your female colleagues and what are the differences?


Christine: What I love about Eventive is that there’s no typical employee. As a boutique experiential agency that prides itself on marching to its own beat, we attract a unique mix of dreamers and doers, artists and makers and innovators and adaptors. That diversity in thought, skills and experience coupled with a can-do culture and a strong female presence make Eventive an empowering place to work.

But what really sets us apart is that culture isn’t an afterthought. It’s a shared responsibility from the top-down and the bottom-up, with everyone making it their own which results in a more open, nurturing and tight-knit community.

 

AdForum: What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling” into Sr. Executive level positions? What are some of the challenges that still exist for women in reaching the upper echelon of management?

 

Christine: There’s been great progress in recent years, but it’s not enough to just elevate more women to senior executive roles. It’s essential for agencies to remain committed to gender diversity and consistently reinforce their values. 

In the short-term, we need to continue identifying unconscious bias in the moment and confront it head-on, even if it means tough, uncomfortable conversations. In the long-term, it’s about providing substantive opportunities while also ensuring women have the resources and support they need to succeed, whether it’s family friendly workplaces, flexible career tracks or mentorship.

 

AdForum: What do you consider the biggest personal achievement in your career that still fills you with the most pride?

 

Christine: When I was 23, I moved to New York City with practically nothing. No apartment, no job, just 2 overstuffed bags and a half-baked dream. Perhaps it was too many late night episodes of Sex in the City, but I was determined to figure it out and I slowly, but surely did, carving out a career that I could be proud of.

Many years later, I think back to that young woman and admire that bold determination and that fearlessness (or recklessness depending on how you spin it). And although that mindset has definitely matured with age, I still try to adopt that spirit throughout my life and career, seeking new challenges and not being afraid to start over and learn.

 

AdForum: How do you find the best work-life balance to help you stay productive and creative at work and to help you live a happy, sane life outside of the office?

 

Christine: For most of my career, I’ve embraced being that “first one in the office,” “work on the weekends” type of person because I genuinely love my work. It wasn’t until 3 years ago when I became a mom that, like so many other women, my priorities shifted and the office walls felt more restricting than comforting.

Nowadays, I try to look at work-life balance as a fluid long game, understanding that there will be times when my family or my work will naturally take precedence and not being too hard on myself for it. Easier said than done, right?

But in the meantime, a rock star husband at home, a strong, supportive team at Eventive and a flexible work culture help keep me sane. And when all else fails, never underestimate the therapeutic power of a glass of wine, a chat with your best friend or a good book!

 

AdForum: Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?

 

Christine: My parents are big believers of working hard and being useful so I’ve been working since I was 16. My jobs have truly run the gamut from cool to embarrassing. So whether it was bussing tables at Perkins, wearing polyester brown pants at Burger King or checking IDs at Regal Cinema, one thing I learned was to dive right in, always pull your weight and to never be afraid of getting your hands dirty (because they inevitably will).

And these lessons from my customer service days have served me well in the advertising world, reminding me of the value of patience, the power of a smile, the art of communication and the importance of tipping well.

 

AdForum: Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?

 

Christine: I’ve been very lucky to have strong female and male influences throughout my career so it’s hard to pick just one. From my older sister, Monica Milligan, who set an early example of how to relentlessly achieve your goals to the fast-talking, always-thinking strategy guru, Rupal Gadhia, who helped me define my unique voice to the leadership team at Eventive who empowers me daily, each of these mentors have greatly shaped my leadership style.

 

AdForum: How do you as a successful woman in your industry plan to inspire the next generation of women? In a few words, what advice do you have for women entering the advertising industry?

 

Christine: Thinking back to my past mentors who generously gave me opportunities to shine, I really try to pay it forward with the next generation of talent. Whether it’s helping to create an overarching culture of support at Eventive or simply leading by example, I don’t think there’s anything more integral than identifying and nurturing talent.

My advice is this: Go for the big wins. Appreciate feedback for what it is. And lastly, fully own your voice.