Perspectives: Women in Advertising: Steffany Carey, Group Creative Director at Tribal Worldwide – New York
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?
Steffany: Overall, Tribal New York’s culture is positive. With a mixed bag of personalities, cultures, interests and talents, we laugh a lot because it’s important to take your job seriously, but yourself not-so-much.
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?
Steffany: I’ve noticed more empathy. In previous years, women with senior titles often felt like they had to act like “one of the guys.” But now more than ever, women are embracing their unique qualities to lead their own way, we’re using our emotions and empathetic manners to our advantage. I think there are still stereotypes about the way women act and handle situations because they are different than, let’s say, a man would handle it. SO it’s an on-going process. I think it’s more important for the women sitting in senior roles to be confidant in their personal style and lead their own way.
AdForum: What do you consider the biggest personal achievement in your career that still fills you with the most pride?
Steffany: Most recently, being asked to speak at TEDx was pretty special. And over the course of my career, I’ve had lots of little moments that have been great achievements for me too, whether it’s leading pitches or selling in a great idea. I love what I do. I’m passionate about ideas and all aspects of stories--the making-building-telling. So I get to feel that way almost every day.
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?
Steffany: It’s a fluid scale that changes by the week, or even sometimes by the day. You have to have your priorities set and in order because life happens and there is only so much you can plan for. I try to plan for the work side as much as I can, preparing ahead of time for presentations, meetings, calls and deadlines. There are days I work on the train ride home, put the kids down and then plug back in. There are also days and nights that I can unplug and make it 100% family. I love being able to flex my creative brain on the daily. I believe it makes me a better Mom.
Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
Steffany: I worked in fashion for a bit. There were a lot of virtues and there were also a lot of egos and tempers. Going into work each day was like mood roulette. It helped me learn how to deal with different personalities and not take things too personally. But most importantly it helped me figure out who I want to be, and who I don’t.
AdForum: Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
Steffany: My first boss in advertising. He was and still is a writer and brilliant creative; eccentric, funny, musical and crazy talented. It was the perfect fit for me because he pushed me to follow my instinct and own my work. It helped me sharpen my craft from the start.
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?
Steffany: Be yourself. Don’t try to retrofit who you are into what you think people want. Confidence is key because we excel best when we are comfortable in our own skin. Don’t wait for someone to be your cheerleader, be your own.