I’m meeting up with Senta Slingerland, the director of brand strategy for the Lions Festival and one of the initiators of See It Be It, a programme that aims to further women in the creative industry, encouraging them to grow their careers and reach senior positions.
“I’ve seen several initiatives focused on women in Cannes this year and I’ve also been talking to Women Who Are Shaping the Next World for the current edition of CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands,” I say. “And now you have launched See It Be It! So what is the programme about exactly?”
“We saw that there was a lack of female talent in the industry,” says Senta, “but rather than just talking about it, we wanted to take action and show that female talent exists, they just need to be placed in the spotlight and boosted.”
“And what does that mean in practice?”
“In practice it means we invited 12 women from across the world who are working at the level of senior copy writer, ad art director or creative director and brought them to Cannes. Here we give them an incredible experience: they meet speakers, have special sessions and get mentorship… All that is going to give them confidence and accelerate their careers. But it’s also going to make them think about work they produce and stereotypes and gender balance. It’s a process of creating awareness.”
One of the See It Be It participants who’s just joined our discussion, Celeste Dalairac adds: “When I found out that I had been selected for the See It Be It programme I thought I was lucky, but after coming here and attending the sessions I realize that I’m not here because I’m lucky. I’m here because I’m talented and because my work is great. It’s interesting that I need someone to tell me that to believe it. It’s really been an eye-opener for me. So now all I want to do is go back home and share all I have learnt with both my female and male colleagues!”
“This is the first edition of See It Be It at Cannes. Do you think there will be follow-up editions in the coming years?” I ask Senta.
“Oh definitely,” she says. “I see that there is a lot of interest from the creative industry and from industry leaders here at Cannes and I reckon that’s only going to grow. So for example, it’s usually very difficult to get to speakers, to get into special events, etc. But I just went for it, I asked if we could meet up with Sheryl Sandberg, if we could meet Rob Lowe, and it all worked. People are backing this initiative!”
“And are you pleased with the outcome for the participants? Do you think participants are taking something meaningful home with them?”
“Actually, it has turned out to be even more special than I expected,” says Senta. “Even after spending only a week together, I feel we have created a sense of sisterhood. These friendships will outlast Cannes. So the Lions play the role of initiator and facilitator and that is the biggest compliment for me.”
© 2014 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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