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Sheila Marmon, Founder and CEO of Mirror Digital

Posted By Sara Smith, Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

Everyone is surprised to learn that I began my career on Wall Street in finance. I was an investment banker in the media and entertainment industry where there is a very close connection to advertising because it is the primary revenue stream for the television, magazine, cable, and digital media companies who were my clients.  

After a big stock market crash, I jumped from Wall Street to Time Warner where I worked in strategic planning for the magazine publishing division. I worked on some groundbreaking projects building digital brand extensions for titles like InStyle, Real Simple, and Time. I also worked on some amazing new business launches in the multicultural space with brands like Essence, Sports Illustrated Latino, Suede Magazine that focus on African American, Hispanic, and multicultural consumers respectively.  

After a successful career in corporate America, I decided to become an entrepreneur to marry my passion for working with diverse voices in multicultural media with my love for the innovation in digital media and technology. The result is my company, Mirror Digital, that I launched six years ago. We are a multicultural ad network, and the largest digital media company focused exclusively on Multicultural America.

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

My personal motto is derived from a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Being an entrepreneur is an incredibly challenging path. Additionally, being in the “Ad Tech” sector there are very few women and even fewer women of color represented. That said, every day I remember that I am privileged to be able to run a company doing something that I love.


What excites you most about this industry?

I find it exciting that our clients and agency partners are beginning to realize the tremendous business potential of the multicultural consumer market (African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics). Through our work at Mirror Digital, our team shares insights on how multicultural consumers contribute to our culture and economy and grow our clients’ businesses with our innovative digital campaigns. 

 




Photos: Steven F. Heuer Studios

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

 The industry will have to decide the fate of publishing and whether advertising can be as effective without these partners who deliver our clients’ marketing messages.

Being a female, African-American CEO in advertising must not always be an easy journey. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

When I launched my company, there were almost no black women visible in the technology start-up world which made it impossible to secure venture funding to grow my business like my white, male counterparts do.

When things are difficult, the most important thing I do is just keep going. I stay focused on my purpose and the reason I started my firm. Experiencing success thus far with creating jobs for young people of color in our industry, helping clients achieve their goals, and building a profitable business make it all worthwhile.


What advice do you have for young, black professionals just starting in advertising?

My advice to any young professional starting his or her career is to find a firm where people will train you and invest in helping you build skills. From that point forward, don’t ever stop learning. Be a constant student who is willing to learn from everyone: read the trades, sign up for free webinars, understand the latest trends.

Everyone is extremely busy in our industry, especially in the agency world.  If you can build expertise around a topic that no one has figured out yet (whether it be a new social media platform, new advertising technology, or a new media partner) you can make yourself valuable to your team and your company beyond your specific job title.

 For young black professionals and other under-represented groups, my advice is to find allies early on in your career to help you navigate some of the political situations that you don’t learn about in a text book or in school. Also, remember: these allies do not have to necessarily look like you. Find people you get along with and who are willing to help.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018, 2019?

We should be giving some hard thought to the ongoing consolidation within the media industry and the continued growth of the dominant digital technology and advertising platforms. These changes will have a lasting impact on the economics of our industry as fewer companies amass buying and selling power.


Any closing thoughts for the ThinkLA community?

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. We cheat ourselves by not fully leveraging the dynamism of this diversity in our industry. I love that ThinkLA helps us by bringing disparate groups together as a community. From this shared sense of community we can see that there is a lot to be gained by offering everyone a seat at the table.

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Sheila Marmon is Founder and CEO of Mirror Digital.


Tags:  #thinkMembers  Brand Marketer  diversity in advertising  marketing  mirror digital  thinkla  woman owned agency 

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Pride Month Recap 🌈🦄

Posted By ThinkLA, Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ThinkLA's corporate members celebrated Pride Month with many different events and fundraisers benefiting the LGBTQ+ community. We're all in this together. 🌈🌈🌈

 

605, a TV data and analytics company, takes diversity, inclusion, and community service to heart year 'round. This past month, employees from coast to coast showed their pride by donating clothes to Ali Forney Center (New York) and LA LGBT Center (Los Angeles), organizations dedicated to lending a helping hand to LGBTQ+ individuals in need.

 

The Oath team marched together in the Pride Parade! For over 40 years, L.A. Pride has been a champion for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the L.A. community and beyond.



 

At POSSIBLE LA, it’s all about pride! Sarah Keene, Art Director at POSSIBLE created this beautiful representation of various LGBTQ+ influencers.


 

RPA raised $4,392.50 for The Family Village Services. This money will fund a program that serves some of the most vulnerable in society: homeless LGBTQ+ youth. This program has been a labor of love for the organization with no dedicated budget, so this money will have a huge impact for youth and teens in our community. In order to fundraise, RPA hosted various events and sales:

  • RPA @ LGBT+ Dodger night game
  • Drag Queen Bingo to raise money for Project Q (LGBTQ outreach program featuring weekly support groups at their homeless youth drop-in centers) and Queer Kickback (biannual events sponsored by The Village bringing together LGBTQ+ youth in a safe space)
  • Raising money for The Village Family Services throughout the entire month of June via T-Shirt Sales and donation-driven breakfast and bar carts in addition to Bingo and Art Gallery events.
  • Pride Art Show/Summer Concert Series Pride Happy Hour



 
At the core of Pride Week at TBWA LA is a fundraising effort that benefits the L.A. Youth Network, an organization that provides hope and homes for foster and homeless LGBTQ+ youth due to the rising statistic that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. The agency raised money with the following activities: 
  • Art Gallery: the agency curates an art gallery featuring pieces of work from an artist or photographer who either identifies with or is closely involved with the LGBTQA community. Prints are donated to the agency and auctioned off at the end of the week with all proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization.
  • Bake Sale: the agency found a plethora of passionate bakers across the campus who love to get creative with rainbow-colored treats for the campus bake sale. 
  • T-Shirt Design Competition: the winning design is decided by Chief Creative Officers on campus, made and sold to employees with all proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization. 
  • Agency talk and Musical Performance: a talk from Tre’vell Anderson, film reporter with The Los Angeles Times who covers the intersection of diversity and Hollywood with a focus on black and queer film; musical guest included Gordi, an Australian folktronica singer/songwriter who identifies with the LGBTQA community, and pop band MUNA played at the agency. 
  • Pride Parade and Celebration: the week’s celebration culminated at the Los Angeles Pride Parade where the campus came together to walk as a team. 

 Giant Spoon celebrated the LGBTQ+ community with a new digital video campaign and activation at San Francisco Pride for its client MassMutual. Similar to its social mosaic video, Pride attendees were able to take pictures in a GIF photo booth. With a message that rings, "Great things happen when we stand together,” the campaign invited the larger community to participate and stand together during Pride Month. 

 

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Would you like to see your company's Pride news or other community outreach programs on this blog? Email don@thinkla.org with your news!

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  DIG  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  LGBTQ+  PRIDE 

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Key Takeaways from the 3% Minicon

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Written by Brook Hauge, Associate Director, Strategy at Canvas Worldwide and Jana Wentz, VP, Account Director at RPA

Edited by Don Lupo, Director of Content and Marketing at ThinkLA

Diversity is about representation, while inclusion is having an equal seat and a voice at the table. At the end of the day, I notice and you notice. We have the ability to make this world more open and inclusive for everyone.

If we keep pushing at the same ideas and ideals, we are simply pattern matching, which runs the risk of “mirror-tocracy” (funding and working with those who look, feel, and seem just like yourself) vs. meritocracy (influenced by those in power).

From a technology perspective, people are inherently looking for, craving, and designing more connections, but are we really creating meaningful ones? We teach ourselves bad habits, and now through AI, we are teaching our devices bad habits. We are starting to see the effect which AI devices have on emotional intelligence when we remove “Please” and “Thank you” from our digital connections.

This also questions how we are able to infuse empathy into technology processes. We wonder how we will teach the next generation to be utilitarian with their various connected lives and how we will teach them to use the power of human connection and empathy to connect through these same devices. It will become necessary to connect with others through experiences that remove us from our own bias and put us in simulated environments that shape a more inclusive self.

We also learned that change is difficult, and everyone recognizes the need for uprising. However, few know where to start to implement real change. There are so many cultural conversations that need to be dimensionalized. Humans know what is right, but we need forums like 3% to rally around and to lean into ideas other than your own or your small circle.

The CMOs have taught us that inclusivity builds business. Being vulnerable, authentic, and drawing knowledge/inspiration from others is how great culture is formed; dictatorial and didactic leadership is not accepted in today’s workforce. We learned there is no better place to start than forming allies: share success, not just failures. We can build up each other with positive stories.

 

 

Representation is at the root of it all. Who are the people making the decisions? Who is writing the script? How are decisions being made? You cannot just convince people; they change their point of view when they experience something that challenges their beliefs. The world is one social conversational moment at a time: those moments become movements, but they remain moments if we call them that. By dismissing things as moments and not embracing them as movements, we remove the power of all the steps that got us from then to now.

When there is 30% or more of any group in a room, psychologically, we stop seeing anyone as a minority.

In addition, Radical empathetic listening is about putting ourselves in others’ shoes to truly understand what they are experiencing. This helps us all understand how others might be marginalized or not included at all. Empathic listening is really about exercising how we listen and learn about someone’s story and using “I” language. Using “I” when you tell another person’ story as if it was your own, you begin to feel what they feel. Understanding someone else is the societal start to truly connecting. Everything has become very data-driven, and we are missing the emotion in it. Radical empathy can inject that back into the experience.

At the intersection of all things possible is tech and human content. Choose your words: Communication is the tool we use to create change. Language is a creator or bias and is fundamentally crowdsourced. We need to break the system. Unconscious bias leaves people with a desire not to speak; language can be an excluder, but there are ways to participate (rewrite the dictionary, educate to empathize, believe in change). By using new language, we can actually change.

Final thoughts:

Fight. Flight. Freeze. (Change through the Freeze). We are a collective; heroism is gone. We are in search of the connections, and women and leaders who are redefining the rules by which we live, work, play. Speak and include everyone at the very beginning.


Tags:  #ThinkDIG  3%  DIG  diversity  Diversity in Advertising 

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Member Spotlight: Carlene Rowe, Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential, Conill Advertising

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, May 9, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I’ve always been fascinated with storytelling, as I’m a big fan of film, television and music. One of my favorite movies as a kid was ET. My favorite part in the film was when ET was lured by one of the characters with Reese’s Pieces candy. This was my first encounter with advertising and product placement, which led me to study marketing and advertising at California State University, Northridge.

My first job out of college was working as a Contemporary Marketing Representative at Anheuser-Busch. During my tenure, I had the privilege to partner with top talent, travel the world and learn from the best minds in the advertising industry, as we launched memorable beer campaigns, which made Budweiser the iconic brand it is today. After years of moving up the ladder, I landed the best job in the company, as Sr. Manager of Sports and Entertainment, working with agencies on several campaigns.

This led me to my role as Director of Sports and Entertainment at Conill Advertising, what a great ride!

To this day, Reese’s Pieces is still my favorite candy… advertising works!

Do you have a personal motto?

I'm passionate about Sports and Entertainment, so doing something I love is always fun, rewarding and thrilling. In addition, my team at Conill keeps me motivated, as they are creative, hard working and inspiring leaders ready to make their mark in advertising.

My personal motto is, “Leadership is earned, not given”, so I encourage everyone on my team to be a leader. It doesn’t matter what title you hold, we all have the responsibility to share new ideas, think outside the box and make a difference as it relates to their project or field of work.

What excites you most about this industry?

Constant change. Data and innovation are KEY, as we are learning new ways to communicate with audiences globally. Data and innovation will continue to provide brands with the ability to hyper-target consumers and measure results more precisely and insightfully than ever before. In an era where we can tune in to watch an electric car being launched to Mars via social media for everyone around the world to see, not even the 'sky's the limit' anymore. With change comes growth, which is exhilarating!

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

Innovation, Innovation, Innovation!

VR, AI, voice-control systems and new apps, provide brands with a way to link with hyper-connected consumers, as a means to provide more authentic and personalized engagement. Look out for new ways of distributing branded content and new avenues of communication through advancements in technology that will impact the way we communicate with consumers globally.

What advice do you have for people in advertising that are beginning their career?

Find your niche. I manage the Sports and Entertainment department, which is a new area of focus at our agency; it gives us the ability to reach new audiences through influencer marketing and events, as it paves the road for our brands to get in front of consumers and engage in a way that is appealing and authentic.

 



Photos: Don Lupo

 

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

There are so many things happening across the marketing landscape, that it’s impossible to call them all out. From my vantage point, innovation, experiential, and influencer marketing will continue to be pivotal in creating unforgettable experiences for consumers, particularly given changes in social media platforms, such as Facebook. Technological advancements in these areas over the next few years will continue to transform the engagement model and expand the relationship envelope.

Any closing thoughts?

As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” We need more leaders who aren’t afraid to take risks and disrupt old ways of thinking. We must foster and cultivate the emerging visionaries in our business, so they can take us to new heights.

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Carlene Rowe is the Director of Brand Partnerships and Experiential at Conill Advertising. Carlene recently spoke at ThinkLA's Auto Breakfast, and was featured on ThinkLA's Women of Color in Advertising to Highlight list.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  #ThinkMembers  Career Advice  DIG  Diversity in Advertising  ThinkMembers  Women 

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Member Spotlight: Samantha Hawkins, Supervisor, Community Management, RPA

Posted By Emily Hope, Monday, March 26, 2018

"I was lucky enough to be Sam’s Mentor through ThinkLA’s Mentorship program and I fell in love with her immediately; she is so powerful, smart, kind, dynamic, understanding, AMAZING. Her desire to grow and learn from everyone around her is infectious – to progress not just for progression’s sake, but to expand and learn about everything around her. I so value our time together and our friendship moving forward!" - Leisha Bereson, VP, Group Director, Programmatic, Canvas Worldwide 

 


Photos: Don Lupo Photography

 

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

I was a Business Marketing major in college, I was active in extracurriculars like sports, but also within the business department. Because I did two sports year-round, I didn’t have a lot of time to get real-world experience with internships until around my senior year. So I supplemented my course work with things like clubs, organizing local business owner speaking events, competing on the business presentations team, etc.

I eventually did get an internship where I was the Public Relations and Marketing intern for a fashion brand that was new to the West Coast and was trying to get more awareness of its denim line. I did things like compile press clippings from magazines, ship samples to Nylon and TeenVogue for their photoshoots, reach out to local bloggers for events we hosted. It was a lot of fun that was formative for me early on.

Then I got into my first real corporate job in Orange County in the automotive industry. I knew nothing about cars but Kelley Blue Book took me in as a Public Relations Coordinator. It was a temp position that eventually lead to a full-time role as a Marketing Coordinator. From there, I worked my way through the lower ranks of Marketing Specialists and then Associate Marketing Manager.

I learned a lot during those years, wearing a lot of hats in maintaining my team’s media and production budgets, learning to write effective briefs, managing our social media community and the content development process. I also learned a lot working with our media and creative agencies. I loved that the people were authentic, personable but had so much expertise in their fields.

I decided it was time for me to join the agency side so that I could learn from these amazing experts by working with them, and here I am at RPA!

 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

I’m motivated by learning, growing, and helping others learn and grow. We should never lose a student mentality; we should always be learning. And at the same time, if we can each teach one another, we learn even more ourselves and we share that knowledge to help others grow. Let's elevate one another.

What excites you most about this industry?

The fast pace and changing landscapes that always keep me on my toes. I love challenges and collaboration, so this is a great industry for that!

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

As the content bubble begins to burst, we’ll leave the days of viral video, click bait, and surface-level content that is stimulating but not valuable. The pendulum is swinging toward advertising and marketing that is both valuable in content -- what that content contributes to the daily lives of people -- and also that puts the values of people and brands front and center: humanitarian values, societal values, equality, etc.

Authenticity, transparency, and equality take center stage. I also think we’ll see traditional continue to emerge in new forms. For example, the changing landscape of digital video and original programming and that shift from TV: what’s old is new again, just in slightly different formats and spaces.

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals who are beginning their career?

Stay hungry! Hungry to learn and hungry to push for growth. Don’t expect to do the bare minimum and get more opportunity or to get meaning from your job; you have to dig deeper. Learn as much as you can and always challenge yourself, reach higher... and once you’ve achieved that, reach even higher again and again.

Make sure you give back, mentor someone, be someone’s role model, help bring someone up the ladder as you go, whether you had someone to do the same for you or not, again we need to lift each other up. Be yourself and have fun with it, surround yourself with people that contribute to your happiness and positivity; don’t feel you have to change yourself just to get by.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

We should be talking about what we’re actually doing to increase diversity and inclusivity within our industry, within our agencies, in the work we do for clients. Let’s talk about what we’re actually doing about it. How is it working? How are we measuring success? Let’s share best practices and learnings.

It’s 2018. We know the realities of this issue, so it’s time to show action and celebrate those that are doing it well.

Tags:  #MemberSpotlight  #ThinkDIG  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  RPA  Social Media 

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Spotlight: Shari Holly, Program Director, PIPELINES

Posted By Emily Hope, Wednesday, March 21, 2018

When we made the call for our Women of Color in Advertising list,  we were thrilled to be introduced to a true champion of diversity and inclusion: Shari Holly. Shari is the Program Manager for PIPELINES at PRETTYBIRD, a non-profit aiming to close the access and opportunity gap by connecting underrepresented talent directly to opportunities and programs in tech and creative industries through a mobile app and series of engaging programs.

 


Photos: Don Lupo Photography


How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

My career road map is rather unconventional. Growing up in Detroit, at the time there weren’t many other black women pursuing creative careers, starting businesses, or creating non-traditional methods for success. There was a stigma (which is what I was taught) to find a stable and secure job (government, lawyer, teacher doctor), climb the corporate ladder, and retire with a sweet pension: the good ole’ American dream. I knew I was born a creative, but you really don’t know what you don’t know, and furthermore, without much access or role models, pursuing creative careers seems rather far-fetched in a sense.

I moved to Kalamazoo (yes, it’s a real city), graduated from college with a degree in Business and Spanish, and formed the idea along the way that I wanted to work in Immigration Reform and/or International Business. I wasn’t until I moved to Chicago and worked for the Tribune that I’d realize that I actually belong in Media and Entertainment, not the government. Working in advertising at the Tribune exposed me to a world of creative and media that I long to know more about and this is where my creative career was born.

After reaching my wits' end with Chicago’s brutal weather, I moved to LA never having been here before and made looking for a job full time. A month later, I landed a job (which apparently rarely happens to transplants who move here) working for a direct-response advertising agency assisting a media buyer. I didn’t love it. Numbers and post logs have never been my thing. I did that for about a year before moving on to a post-production house where I worked in Digital Media Services.

In my two and a half years here, I learned quite a bit about new age media and how VOD platforms are drastically changing the way content is digested. It was very interesting, but as much as I learned, I had reached a point in my career of having the strong desire to do something purposeful. Spending 75% of my life at a job that didn’t have purpose or give back was not something I wanted to do anymore.

I came across an opportunity to be a Diversity Program Manager for PromaxBDA. I had zero experience in D&I or Program Development but knew this would be an opportunity I would enjoy and would find purpose. Kat, the VP who interviewed me (and now, my lifelong mentor) took a chance on me and hired me because she felt my passion and commitment to this cause. It was at PromaxBDA that I realized for the first time in my life, that this is where I belonged. This work is the work that I want to do for a lifetime, and that’s to commit to doing what I can to close the access and opportunity gap for aspiring, yet underrepresented creatives, to increase inclusion in our creative industries and to create space of belonging for minorities in this industry.

After PromaxBDA, I worked with the Directors Guild of America and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers to jumpstart their first-ever Commercial Directors Diversity Program, then moved on to PRETTYBIRD, where I am currently spearheading the PIPELINES diversity and inclusion initiative. Here, we are taking a radical, unconventional approach to connecting underrepresented talent to our tech and creative industries through a mobile app. We also host a series of engaging programs and events for our demo as well. I am committed to this and exactly where I belong!

 

 

 

What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

On a personal level, life genuinely keeps me motivated. I never take a day that I wake up in the morning for granted. Every (new) day that I have is another literal opportunity to do something different, to take my purpose to a higher level, to be thankful for my many blessings, to spread truth and peace.

Professionally, the amount of work that still needs to be done to create more direct paths the underrepresented to opportunities in our creative industries is what keeps me motivated. I have a “can’t stop, won’t stop” mentality when it comes to my work.

My personal and forever motto is “I don’t need easy; I just need possible”. I heard this in a movie called “Swimfan” and coined it as my personal mantra in everything that I do.

What excites you most about this industry?

That it’s always, always changing, and that the opportunities are limitless. Entertainment and Media are very unique industries that constantly require adaptability and change… and I love change.

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

Hopefully, advertising is moving away from the "safe" and "traditional" and gravitating more towards the radical, boundary-pushing work that’s reflective and inclusive. I believe the next five years look like more biracial parents in commercials, more VR experiences to increase empathy in our branding for example. Brands will also face a challenge of engaging a particular, demanding, and technology-dependent demo. Brands will have to connect with their diverse demo on a deeper, personal, and more emotional level as it’s becoming more about the person and less about the masses. What a time to be alive!

What advice do you have for black advertising professionals who are beginning their careers?

There was a clip we shot of Omar Johnson, former CMO of Beats, explaining his experiences being the “only black person in the room” and what we expressed was so simple yet so powerful and something I will never, ever forget. Being black and in entertainment, there will be many times you will experience being in meetings/rooms/sets where no one or hardly anyone looks like you and while many will view this as a disadvantage, it’s actually quite the opposite. It boils down to perspective. He expressed that once he shifted his perspective, so did the dynamic in his interactions. He said that he views being the only black person in the room as a superpower. A superpower! That your views and ideas are unique, much needed, and unlike any other perspective the majority can offer. You can empathize in ways others cannot. You can offer a view that is special and autonomous. No one can offer your (necessary) view except for you and that is where you find your power, your confidence, your authenticity in your work. A light bulb went off as I watched this clip and not only have I shifted my own perspective, but I encourage other black creatives and professionals to do the same.

What should our industry be talking about in 2018?

What they can be doing specifically to create an inclusive work environment and how they can change/revamp their hiring practices and culture to attract, hire, and retain more diverse talent? Aside from the fact that having more inclusive teams and work environments increase the bottom line, the world and the world of entertainment is evolving drastically and company cultures must do the same.

Any closing thoughts?

“If you don’t prioritize your being, your doing will suffer. It’s simple, but not easy.” – Robyn Ward

 

 

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  #thinkMembers  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  Member Profiles  Member Spotlight 

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Member Spotlight: Bupendra Ram

Posted By Emily Hope, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?

Ethnically, I am Indian, but I was born in the Fiji Islands. I came to the U.S. when I was two years old when my family fled Fiji because of a political coup. We got a tourist visa to enter the U.S. Before we left, we met a man who was charging people $10,000 for an opportunity to get a green card as soon as we entered the U.S.

Upon our arrival in the U.S., we were presented with a green card. By the time we realized it was a hoax, we had overstayed and became undocumented. At the age of 23, I became Undocumented and Unafraid, and Queer and Unashamed. At this time, I joined passionate and resilient people to fight for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) and help people understand that immigration is a global issue and not just for people south of our border.

In 2014, as a strong and unified community, we helped the Obama administration do the right thing by partnering with hundreds of lawyers to provide him with the legal groundings to provide administrative relief to a category of undocumented youth.

 

Don Lupo Photography

 

As a recipient of DACA, my career in Human Resources has been relatively short but full of adventure and growth.

When I received DACA, I started to think about the opportunities that were not previously available or open to me. As a natural community builder and networker, I reached out to people and conducted informational interviews. I quickly learned that Human Resources would be the perfect blend of my love for business and people. In addition, I would be able to take my learnings back to my respective communities in two ways: 

  • I would learn how to support people from disadvantaged background with career planning, structuring and formatting their resume, branding themselves, and improving their interviewing skills;
  • I would learn the how to help others like me gain access to opportunities not always open to people with my experience or those who look like me.

The overall goal would be to become a Diversity and Inclusion practitioner to aggressively impact corporate culture.

Three years ago, I accepted an internship that would give me a broad understanding of Human Resources and gain practical experience. After outgrowing that role, I found an amazing opportunity as a Human Resources Coordinator at my first advertising agency, Hawthorne. I loved working with some of the most passionate and dedicated people in the industry. I directly impacted Hawthorne’s culture by helping them create a culture of trust and accountability. I loved helping their agency grow and be a place where people loved waking up and going to.

A year later, I was offered an opportunity to join Innocean USA with more responsibilities and an opportunity to be a part of a dynamic group of HR professionals. I was able to quickly learn more HR skills and dive into areas of HR that I am passionate about – diversity and Inclusion, employee relations, recruiting, and change management. Currently, through sheer determination, I am working in a field that I’m passionate about and love: Diversity and Inclusion at Live Nation as a Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator.

 

 

What (who) keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?

My mom keeps me motivated. She continues to sacrifice so much so that I can have the experiences and opportunities that I am having. She left Fiji to travel to a place she had no idea about, had the courage to leave her abusive husband, and thrive when all the odds were against her.

Personal motto: “Why not?” I have always been told that I cannot achieve my goals because I am either undocumented, queer, a person of color, or an array of other reasons. I think sometimes we hold ourselves back because of our own subjugation and what we think is “normal.” I always try to figure out a way around challenges and push boundaries as much as I can.

 

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far?

I have learned that mistakes are your best friend. They help you learn and get better at what you do. It shows that you are in the arena and fighting to succeed. I have just learned how to be accountable for my mistakes, learn from them, and move on.

 

What excites you most about this industry?

Simply, it's the people. I think that marketing, advertising, and entertainment attract some of the most amazing and diverse people. Everyone is so passionate about what they do and creative that it makes work fun. Also, each day is so different that it forces you to find creative solutions to business challenges.

 

Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?

The industry is molding to adapt to the changing demographics of people within the United States and abroad. People are rejecting binaries, labels, and identities that pigeonhole them. The blanketed approach to sell or entertain generalized demographics is not going to work.

Over the next five years, I think that the industry will be trying to understand how they can cater to this new demographic and rebrand themselves. For example, so many women are telling their #MeToo story and some are taking it a step further to make sure that we are changing who we are as a society and industry. We are going to have to move forward together and embrace the differences that make us unique and who we are. People want organization to reflect their values and the diversity that they see around them.

 

Why are you involved with ThinkLA?

I love ThinkLA and value their collaborative frame of connecting advertising agencies and supplying them with tools to be successful. I have been working with them for over a year through their Diversity, Inclusion, and Gender (DIG) initiative to help create tools and resources for our industry and highlighting opportunities related to diversity, inclusion, and gender for our industry, and allowing us to harness the power of our unique backgrounds to the greater good.

 

What advice do you have for those just starting in advertising?

Network and let people know what you are passionate about. Since I started a career in HR, I went to most networking events and met as many people as I could. During every interaction, I found a way to tell everyone and anyone that would hear me that I want to practice diversity and inclusion. The industry is very small, everyone knows each other, and most people are open to mentoring and supporting you.

 

In Adobe's recent "Creativity’s Diversity Disconnect" study, which highlighted diversity issues in the advertising industry, 54% responded that the industry was “getting better compared to five years ago,” while 7% actually said it was getting worse. And a resounding number of minorities described lack of access and seeing themselves reflected in the workplace. As a member of ThinkLA’s DIG initiative, what are your thoughts on these findings? How can the industry improve?

I am not completely surprised by the results. There has been a shift to address issues around diversity, but more work needs to be done around inclusion. Diversity needs to be done in an authentic way without ignoring the intersectionality of individuals with the support of people from dominant groups. Diversity impacts all of us and everyone needs to be involved to address these issues within their respective organization. I wholeheartedly believe that – together – we can get to a place where people can bring their full selves to the workplace.

 

Any closing thoughts?

Be yourself – your whole self – your authentic self. It makes everything so much easier.

 

 

Tags:  #ThinkDIG  Advertising  Bupendra Ram  Career Advice  DACA  Diversity  Diversity in Advertising  Immigration  Innocean  Live Nation  Member Spotlight 

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