We Still Have Work To Do: Shayna Cohen, VP, Client Services & Operations at Laundry Service

Laundry Service
Full Service
Brooklyn, United States
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How would you describe the overall culture at your agency and would you say that there is a separate female culture? 
Culture is such an interesting term. I feel culture is usually associated with how good a company’s snack game is or if they offer more than beer at happy hour. Culture for us is about the people. How are we helping you to learn and grow, both at our company and beyond? We have a number of diversity groups at Laundry Service, and one in particular focuses on female empowerment which gives our badass female employees an opportunity to connect and communicate. It helps to create an open dialogue that men, too, can be a part of to help make a change within the industry. It’s important that we continue to build a culture that is diverse and inclusive, and not one that separates people.

In your opinion, what do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”? 
Inappropriate and out-of-touch messaging is no longer accepted in advertising, and I credit much of this to women in the workforce. You look at old ads and think, “How did that get approved?” Communications have also become stronger in the workplace. There’s a level of transparency and personal communications that has developed in a more meaningful way.

What are some of the challenges that women still face in the industry? 
Women can be pigeonholed into certain verticals or brought into meetings simply because they’re a woman. While we’ve made progress as an industry, we still have work to do - from understanding how women should be at the forefront of conversations, to helping redefine stereotypes in the workplace as well as in the ads we create. 

What steps do you take to ensure you achieve a healthy work-life balance? 
Starting out in my career, I was terrible at this. It’s hard to understand how to create a balance when your work is genuinely important to you and blends into your personal life. Over time, I realized how important “me time” and “family time” was and how that impacted my joy for work. One thing I try to do is leave the office on time to have dinner with my husband. I may go back online after, if needed, but that hour at home helps me clear my head and find a healthy work-life balance that works best for me. 

What professional achievement are you most proud of? 
Helping to build a company in your 20s is something you read about, but you never really understand what that means until you do it. Being one of the first five people at Laundry Service forced me to be multidisciplinary. Understanding the ins and outs of every job function and learning how to do it well taught me a lot. I quickly learned that taking initiative is key to both growing a company and elevating my career as a woman in business. If a problem arose, I didn’t wait for someone to ask me to fix it, I’d dive in and come up with a solution. I look back with such pride knowing that I got to be a part of building something meaningful for both our people and our clients. 

Tell us about a mentor that helped guide you in your career. What made them so special? 
While in grad school at NYU, I was working at Madison Square Garden in the concerts marketing department. I worked directly with one of the marketing managers and was immediately taken under her wing. She was a natural mentor in the way that she set me up to succeed, spending just enough time with me to guide me through questions, yet gave me enough freedom to jump into original projects and pursue ideas that had never been done before. It led me to delivering on an incredibly unique event that was a first-of-its kind for the company.

How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women? 
Mentorship. We all move so quickly that it's easy to forget how important it is and the power of what it does not only for your team but for you personally as a leader - learning from each other and instilling confidence, both in themselves and in their work output. Encouraging young women in particular to come to the table, feel confident in expressing their POV and be a part of the conversation will continue to help make women fearless and unstoppable in the workplace. That is something that we can all benefit from in the future.