By Jeff Finkle
AdForum: How would you describe the overall culture at your agency and would you say that there is a separate female culture?
Jill: The feeling at Epsilon, a non-traditional creative agency founded in data, is that we’re a rocket about to launch – it’s a very exciting time.
As for the female culture, I think we benefit from never really having our origins in the “old boy’s” club. 54% of our creative department is female, with three kickass women at top ECD leadership roles. And with Epsilon’s Women in Leadership and Diversity & Inclusion teams, the company does not seem afraid to have the hard conversations about the state of the industry and what we’re doing to change it.
AdForum: What do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling?”
Jill: We’ve come so far, and we have so far to go. I get conflicted about that term because there was a time when you couldn’t even see to the other side of the ceiling. More like a two-way mirror?
I think the biggest change is that women shouldn’t feel the sole responsibility of breaking it. We know that gender diversity is good for the bottom line - people who are smart are realizing that bringing more voices to the table helps us serve our clients better, smarter, more impactful messaging.
AdForum: What are some of the challenges that women are still facing?
Jill: Parental leave. Balancing power with femininity. Misogyny. Intersectional feminism. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way and are on the right path – but let’s not kid ourselves, the work is never done.
AdForum: What steps do you take to ensure you achieve a healthy work-life balance?
Jill: I don’t strive for balance but more for integration. It’s more of a juggling fireballs-while-on-tightrope-over-pool-of-sharks sort of act. I’ve got two kids under 3. If I’m staying late to work on a pitch, I’m probably neglecting some kind of home management or child rearing obligation. I know on any given day something is going to be my number-one priority – the balance I suppose comes from knowing how and when to shift the priorities.
Otherwise, SoulCycle, wine, a woke husband who respects my career as much as his, and a robust bench of child caregivers.
AdForum: What professional achievement are you most proud of?
Jill: I’ll never forget my first day at Harpo Studios. I started there in the promo department during the height of the ratings- the red car giveaway, Tom Cruise jumping on the couch type stuff. Every day was the Super Bowl. I’ll always be so proud of the work we did. What a ride.
AdForum: Tell us about a mentor that helped guide you in your career. What made them so special?
Jill: Oprah. She built an entire brand off her ability to be herself. Wildly talented businesswoman and leader, she taught me to own my truth, lead with my heart and go with my gut.
Also all the tall Jo(h)ns. My first “job” at MTV in development, John Miller told me tell your own story and you’ll always have an authentic creative voice. At Harpo, Jon Sinclair taught me how and when to see a project through to completion (“land the plane” as he would say) and now at Epsilon, our Chief Creative Officer John Immesoete has taught me about fearless reinvention and how when it comes to creativity you have to be like a shark, you’ve gotta keep swimming and push yourself for that next idea.
AdForum: How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women?
Jill: Mentor, mentor, mentor. I make it a point to take time to help when asked. I always take the coffee meeting, read the script, watch the reel. I believe strongly that we are all connected and here to help each other out. Pull a woman up. Let them lead. Take chances. My advice to women is always to stop thinking so much and start doing. Break the glass and leave a hole wide enough for two women to follow.