Logo CoolBrands WomenI’m at the New York Advertising Week talking to Shelley Zalis at the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge.

Shelley launched her own internet research company in the late 1990s and is now the CEO of Ipsos OTX. As a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur, Shelley has managed to juggle family life and a high-flying career, but she told me that she sees too many women still struggling to combine the two.

That’s one of the reasons she founded the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge, a ‘go to’ destination at industry conferences where women can connect, collaborate and inspire each other.

“The past decades have been dominated by male leadership, but the current situation demands a different kind of leadership,” Shelley kicks off. “The skill set necessary to be a great leader today includes qualities like nurturing, caring, being collaborative, visionary and passionate, and the ability to tell stories. These all happen to be skills that ‘caregivers’ have. And most of the time, caregivers are women.”

“So what keeps women from taking these positions?” I ask.

“Most companies are structured to accommodate ‘workers’, they are not fit to accommodate caregivers; people who take care of kids, parents, do volunteer work. That’s one of the reasons I started my own company. I have three kids and a husband that I want to take care of, but I also wanted to develop myself and grow professionally.

“Next to this, we as women accepted this situation. We adapted to it. Either you sacrifice your caregiver role or you don’t go for the top position you actually wanted. What we need is to boost our confidence as women, take a stand, step up to the plate and make the changes we want. What are we waiting for? I want to go from conversation to activation – we need to act. The time is now.”

Meeting Shelley Zalis – Around the World in 80 Brands
Meeting Shelley Zalis – Around the World in 80 Brands

“So your aim with the IGL is to address these issues and generate solutions?” I ask.

“You bet,” she says, “first of all, the women who come here are mostly C-level, from small to blue chip companies. By sharing our vision and discussing how we can re-structure the companies to accommodate caregivers, we make a start.

“Second, the women visiting the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge realize it’s cool to do business with their ‘girlfriends’. In addition, we work on energizing confidence on three levels in the Lounge: sisterhood – sharing and activating together, taking action to make the changes we need to see in the workplace, reality; self – we have styling artists to help the women feel their absolute best when they walk into a room; and third, soul – this is inner confidence, ensuring that we are healthy, happy – inside and out.”

“Actually, I’d like to ask you to join us for our next IGL in Orlando, to help our women craft their story, find their uniqueness so that we can celebrate our differences.”

“You can count me in,” I say, “I’d be honored to contribute to boost women’s inner confidence with storytelling!”

Meeting Shelley Zalis, CEO of Ipsos OTX, at #CannesLions - CoolBrands
Watch video with Shelley Zalis at Cannes Lions

Ipsos Girls’ Lounge

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