Confidence and Authenticity: How Women Defy Expectations and Lead the Pack.

By Natalie Simone Meade

Hundreds of men and women filled a banquet hall at Hotel Martinez on Boulevard de la Croisette for the 6th Annual IPG Women’s Leadership Breakfast.

This year’s breakfast was refreshing because the conversation was based on shattering expectations. Confidence and authenticity served as the underlying themes for each panel session.

Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the first African-American woman in space; she’s a physician, and a Trekki. She said that every woman has an opportunity to break barriers and shatter expectations.  “Empowerment starts on the inside. We need to understand that we have the right to be involved, something to contribute and will to take a risk,” said Dr. Jemison.

Maureen Dowd, Columnist for The New York Times, made observations about the political climate in anticipation of the 2016 general election. She noted that our expectations about how we expect the presumptive nominees of each party to act and react, as it relates to gender, have been shattered.

Empowerment manifests itself through self-confidence. This notion shined through during the panel session featuring numerous IPG clients, including Alison Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer of Johnson & Johnson; Monika Schulze, Chief Marketing Officer, Zurich Insurance; Deana Singleton, GM Global Advertising, Microsoft; and Lisa Sugar, Founder and President of POPSUGAR. Suzanne Powers, the Global Chief Strategy Officer for McCann Worldgroup, moderated the conversation. Confidence, in turn, consists of a single, primary ingredient – authenticity. This was a central reason behind each of the panelists’ success.

Aline Santos, SVP of Global Marketing of Unilever; spoke about her first moments as a senior leader on the job. Although she was confident in herself and her abilities, she said she initially struggled with staying true to herself. She noticed that the men in the boardroom wore suits. To conform, Santos bought a suit –with shoulder pads. She even went so far as to use her husband’s cologne.  “I was not 100% authentic she said; it was a masquerade,” Santos said.

The keynote session featured Gwyneth Paltrow. It was refreshing to hear her genuine responses during her interview with Katty Kay, an Author and Presenter for BBC World News. Paltrow founded goop, a lifestyle publication. She said she had to step out of her comfort zone and overcome her fears in order to pursue her business passions.

Attending the IPG Women’s Leadership Breakfast was an empowering experience. Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO of IPG, said that within the portfolio of IPG agencies, women represent 54% of the leadership positions. It was inspiring to hear from these successful women, all with diverse and unique backgrounds.  Strong leadership requires, self-awareness, confidence and the ability to empathize with others. Maybe most important of all, it requires a deep and genuine desire to help others along the way.

Natalie Meade
Natalie Meade
Natalie Meade is a media investment buyer at ID Media and a (very) recent graduate from the Columbia Journalism School. She’s a writer, yogi, foodie and music junkie. You can follow her on Instagram & Twitter