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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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Fireside Chats with Jun Group

Posted By Emily Hope, Monday, December 18, 2017

In partnership with Jun Group, we set out to find out what top marketers are doing to attract talent and stay ahead of the curve, win new business, and set Los Angeles apart.

 

Adam Tabachnikoff, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

“The easy part and the fun part about being a CMO is doing videos, its going on photoshoots—but when I walk into my board meetings, what really becomes sexy is the analytics and the numbers. The prettiest POP (point of purchase display), the best social media, —whether its a JPEG or a short video—are fun to present, but what really goes well, is when we have the analytics and data to show what the ROI was...that we actually drove incremental traffic and profitable sales." 

 

Chris Athens: Associate Media Director, Maxus

“People are not necessarily only converting digitally; in fact, the majority of conversions happen on-air. Breaking down that conversion silo is something that we’ve been trying to tackle with certain partners. Understanding where people are watching, how they’re consuming [video content], and then trying that back to the ad exposure."

 

Lisa Nichols, Chief Data Officer, Partner, Bloom Ads Global Media Group

"Finding the right people is very challenging. Today, we look to people who have a coding background, people who have mathematical brain, people that understand statistical relevance. But on the other side, talent still must be creative.”

 

Claire Thompson: Senior Strategist, Vice Media

“We take a very hard line on what we feel is ‘crossing a line’ and making it unclear that something is an advertisement. If we weren’t being so protective of our brand and ensuring that we are not tricking our readers, then we lose integrity with our audience… which is precisely why we are successful and is why we are attractive to advertisers in the first place.”

 

Don Lupo: Director of Content and Marketing, ThinkLA

“What’s concerning is something that we call agency 3.0. Agencies have to be far more nimble than they were, they have to offer a full set of services and experiences, that maybe you [the agency] did not provide directly in the past. Digital strategists, social media strategists, information architecture and UX (user experience specialists) which is not always something that an agency hired for. The agency has evolved.”

 

Joey Adler: Chief Executive Officer, Carve Nutrition, Founder, Department of Good

"My motto is: I don’t want to do anything in business that doesn’t support the community. The Department of Good is that. It’s a platform, and it will be the first time I believe that a platform will work with small independent business (focusing on brick and mortar) in a collaborative way. We want to support the small independent brick and mortar store. We want to support community organizations. We want to support people with innovative ideas. And we want to support the consumer to have an experience and to be part of something [community focused]. And we have give back up and down the supply chain.”

 

Paul Pastor: Executive Vice President, Strategy, Revenue and Operations, Discovery Channel

“Pulling the entire story out of our consumer base across multiple platforms is not easy. What we’ve been able to do is work with our own first party data, with third party vendors, and then with the Nielsen’s and Comscores of the world to put together a comprehensive view of consumers at various stages across different platforms. This informs the content investment we make and how we think about the partnerships we have with advertisers.”

 

Stephanie Friend, Associate Integrated Media Director, Bloom Ads Global Media Group

“We’re making big movements forward to establish dashboards that link up to all of our digital partners and our DMP. We find the best way to attribute [business ROI] to each medium. We are also in the business of testing — i.e. just TV versus just radio, versus just digital, and showing how that really compares to a truly fully integrated campaign.”

Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Brand Marketers  Fireside Chats  Jun Group  LA Advertising  Marketing  Member Profiles  ThinkLA 

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Volunteer Spotlight: Derek Hand

Posted By Emily Hope, Thursday, December 14, 2017

Get to know Derek Hand, Strategist at Canvas Worldwide, Co-Chair of ThinkLA's Mentor Committee, and a member of ThinkLA's
Young Professionals Council. 



 

How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road-map?
I started in broadcast as an assistant media buyer. This was a great opportunity for me to learn from veterans of the industry. Eventually, I jumped over to digital working on planning, investment, and ad ops. Currently, I’m focused mostly on strategy. I’ve had the good fortune to have touched on a variety of verticals including both entertainment and automotive allowing me visibility into varying styles of advertising. Looking forward to what the future brings!

What excites you most about this industry? 
The industry is constantly evolving, presenting new opportunities from a strategic standpoint. As new Adtech and Mar-tech flourish, the possibilities to develop new creative media executions and how to best measure them is very exciting.

 


 Photos // Martin Aranda Photography

Why are you involved with ThinkLA?
ThinkLA is a place of innovation, community, and opportunity. I’m constantly learning from my peers, and in turn, I hope to give something back to both my peers and the greater industry.

What’s the best advice you’d give to someone interested in a career in advertising? Are there any written materials you suggest to read?
Attend ThinkLA AdU classes, be open to trying different things, find a mentor, and most of all – jump in and absorb everything you can. Nothing compares to actually getting in there and doing the work. 

 

Tags:  #ThinkMembers  Canvas Worldwide  Derek Hand  Member Profiles  Strategist  ThinkLA Members  YPC2017 

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