Perspectives: Women in Advertising. Nikita Malhotra, CFO NA, BBH
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 Nikita Malhotra, CFO NA at BBH, for taking the time to offer her thoughts and reflect on her career.
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?
Niki: The overall culture of BBH is one of work hard, work together and work creative. There is a real camaraderie here where everyone wants to help each other and succeed as a team. We are lucky to a great staff of Female leadership who are also all willing to help each other. Everyone is supportive and willing to pitch in when needed.
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?
Niki: The biggest change I see is respect, more and more Female leadership is respected and seen as powerful. I think there is still a challenge of equal pay in the advertising world. In addition, there is still a very small amount of senior female creative compared to other disciplines, which makes it harder for junior creative to have mentors.
AdForum: What do you consider the biggest personal achievement in your career that still fills you with the most pride?
Niki: For me I think the biggest personal achievement is when I see people I have managed succeed. It shows me that they are able to take these skills to new heights. In addition, I was part of a team that helped sell one of my previous agencies. It was an achievement, to create process and profitability, in order to find the right buyer.
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?
Niki: I always look to have balance. If I know I have a lot to do in a week, I will work out in the morning or plan around my personal schedule rather than my work schedule.
AdForum: Was there a job you had at one point, outside of advertising, that prepared you most for success later in life?
Niki: I worked in restaurants as a hostess during High School and College. I learned how to keep people happy while they were hungry, sometimes by simply communicating the status. In addition, I ran the cash register, so early on I understood the value of money and how to run a business.
AdForum: Can you reflect on a mentor that helped guide you in your career and tell us what made them special?
Niki: I was very lucky when I started my career at Ogilvy there were already many female executives. I think what made them special, is they treated me like my male colleagues. It really put us all on a level playing field and helped me strive for success. In addition, they were inspiring and supportive to young female talent. They made time to have lunch and learns to share their experiences.
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?
Niki: I think the best way is it lead by example, show the staff that a Woman can be whomever she wants to be within the industry. I would say focus on how you can effect an agency and always be opening to learning. There are so many skills in this industry, always look to learn from your peers, it will make you a better employee.