Friday, July 1, 2011

Meet SheSays Co-Founder & Hyper Island Master Class Speaker Alessandra Lariu

Here's another piece of summer reading joy for everyone! We had a chat with Alessandra 'Ale' Lariu who is Co-Founder of SheSays as well as a Hyper Island Master Class speaker. Ale comes from a background as Creative Director at McCann New York, Agency Republic in London and Framfab/LBi in London. In 2010 she was picked by Fast Company magazine as number 29 of 100 most creative people in business beating the co-founder of FourSquare. Her work has won various awards like Cannes Cyber Lyons, OneShow Interactive, D&AD and NY Festivals.

Hi Ale! What is Shesays & what's the story behind it?

SheSays is an organization to further women's careers in digital. I started it with Laura Jordan-Bambach in London in 2006. Since then, the group grew to over 3000 women in 10 cities around the world. We run free monthly events and a free mentorship scheme called 'Who's your Momma?'. We have an early award scheme in London and in New York and, at the later, we have started running courses and managing people's careers by giving them advice and finding them great jobs in digital.

Why do you think the imbalance of sexes is so prominent in creative departments of digital agencies?

I don't think there is an imbalance in creative departments for those starting or in mid-career. But when you start looking at more senior positions then the ratio changes. Women have different management style ( a better one according to Fortune magazine) which is not recognized by the male bosses promoting them. It's a legacy thing.

What can agencies do to improve the situation?

Agencies, specially the male bosses need to recognize that the best replacement for them is not someone like them i.e someone with a bossy attitude. On the contrary, it's someone who's going to nurture and grow the work force keeping them motivated through self-respect and not fear.

Are you seeing any increase of females in the creative departments of digital agencies since the 3 years Shesays been alive?

At the top the pace has been slow but steady. Today I meet more women CDs than five years ago. And you if want to be one of those we have a job opening at our site ; ) - shameless plug!

Let's say a female creative who'd like to work in a digital agency reads this but experiences the difficulties you've identified. What can you do for her?

My very practical advice would be come to our events, contact us for mentorship and let us manage your career.

One piece of advice for the women studying at Hyper Island?

Do first, ask later. If you see something wrong, don't moan or talk about it, do something about it. That's exactly what we did when we started SheSays. We saw an imbalance and we are doing everything we can to change it. I know we are called SheSays but we should actually be called SheDoes ; )

But overall, making stuff happen, doing things, is the best advice I can give. It goes for anybody in digital, creative or advertising. I see many people say that a great idea is what matters. I disagree. A great idea is nothing without a great execution.

I'd also say be curious, enthusiastic and never, ever, stop learning. These qualities are irreplaceable, everything else can be taught.

Get in touch with Ale on SheSays or get the chance to meet her at a Hyper Island Master Class soon!

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