Perspectives: Women in Advertising: Kara O'Neill, President NY, Managing Director East, Deep Focus
In honor of International Women’s Day, AdForum is showcasing the achievements of women in advertising in the month of March through a series of interviews. We would like to thank Kara O'Neill, President NY, Managine Director East at Deep Focus, for taking the time to offer her thoughts and reflect on her career.
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?
Kara: As I grow in the industry, I see more and more opportunity for women across all levels of advertising. I previously thought you needed to be “just like the men” but that’s no longer my perspective. Women are owning their differences and they are essential to agency and client success.
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?
1. Get comfortable being out of balance. Sometimes you will be deep at work and lighter on free time or family time; sometimes you need to shut off work and go all-in on your outside life. I think I compartmentalize more than balance.
2. No one will set your boundaries for you, but if you set them and you are clear, they will respect them.
AdForum: : Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
Kara: Shelley Diamond at Y&R was my mentor before she was my boss. A successful agency leader, client confidant and Working Mother of the Year, she has given me advice and taught me by example. Her resilience is amazing, and she’s always ready to tackle a new challenge or an old one in a new way. She creates deep partnerships with clients and coworkers alike and looks to invest in other women in her immediate orbit and far beyond.
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?
Kara: We’ve recently kicked off “DF Women” a resource group for women in our agency to come together to learn both from each other and from outside experts. We are creating our charter, if you will, to improve ourselves, as well as to have an impact on other women in the world.
“Go for it!” would be my advice to women in the advertising industry. The industry and the culture needs your perspective and your voice.