Cressida Holmes-Smith, Lucky Generals: "Women don’t need to pretend to be something we’re not, because we’re amazing at what we do and who we are."

Lucky Generals is committed to creating an environment where women feel empowered to be their best selves

кем India Fizer , AdForum

Lucky Generals
Полный комплекс услуг
London, United Kingdom
See Profile

Cressida Holmes-Smith
CEO Lucky Generals

Cressida Holmes-Smith, the highly creative CEO of Lucky Generals, fosters an inclusive, empathy-driven workplace that empowers women at all stages of their career to show up authentically and proudly. 


In what ways can women in advertising pave the way for or support younger women hoping to break into advertising?

Firstly, we need to open up avenues into the industry for younger women - especially those from diverse backgrounds and communities. We work very closely with both Speakers for Schools (who deliver opportunities for people from state schools and colleges) and Commercial Break (a transformation enterprise focussed on increasing working-class representation in advertising) who do brilliant things to help level the playing field - which is absolutely vital to the future of this industry. And women in the workplace. 

Once specific project we recently set up was a partnership with Commercial Break and the Effies, offering £10,000 of training to working-class talent.

But it's once they are in the industry that the real work begins. We need to make sure that we are developing our businesses, our business practices and the way our people interact with each other so people from diverse backgrounds don’t feel like outsiders. 

We also need to make sure, as senior women, that we are role modelling in the right way.

We need to show younger women that they don’t have to model masculine behaviors to succeed. Our Founder, Helen Calcraft was so inspiring to me when I joined Luckies because she has never done this. She is unashamedly feminist and feminine, and a brilliant leader. She brings her whole self to work every day and doesn't leave anything at the door like so many women feel they need to. Women don’t need to pretend to be something we’re not, because we’re amazing at what we do and who we are.

We also need to be open about all of the issues that affect women at work and deliver solutions that make women feel empowered to not just be themselves, but be their best selves.


How can we close the gap created by ageism, especially among women, in the industry?

The best thing we can do to close the gap created by ageism is to tackle it in society first by actually showing older people in our creative. This perception issue goes way further than our industry, and we need to use the skills and experience at our disposal to drive behavior change in culture for everyone, not just those in advertising. You still only really see older people in ads for either Saga holidays, funeral care or life insurance. If you want to see how vibrant an older person can be in an ad, check out 49 seconds in one of our Virgin “See the world differently” work.


How does your experience as a woman in marketing inform your work?

My experience as a woman allows me to be nurturing, collaborative, empathetic, vulnerable and good at listening, among many other positive characteristics. But, for me personally, it's my experience as a parent that now informs the way I work the most. If you've done your most stressful part of the day (the school run) by 9.00, there’s not much work can throw at you that will be harder or more stressful. It teaches you how to prioritise, at speed, and not waste any moment of the working day. Being a parent also allows you to take a step back, and re-analyse what is truly important and gives you a new perspective on your priorities.

This is something we understand innately at Lucky Generals, which is why we have a new and very thorough practical policy for parents (and parental group called The Infantry) to make being a parent at work as supported as possible—for both genders.


Gen Z is a generation of digital pioneers and has shifted the framework of many industries. How have this new generation of young women impacted the advertising industry and where do you anticipate they will improve the workplace going forward? 

In my experience Boomers/Gen X work for and are loyal to a company, whereas my generation - millennials - work for people, often seeking out or following an inspirational boss. Gen Z-ers work for themselves, seeking out learning experiences and development opportunities, and careers that work for them and their lives.

However, to get the real inside track on Gen Z, To answer this one I decided that instead of speaking for them, I would let them speak for themselves through one of our amazing young staff, Trinity Taylor. I spoke with her and here are her thoughts:


How have they impacted the advertising industry?

We both agreed that Gen Z-ers tend to assert healthy boundaries when it comes to their mental health/work-life balance, seek out learning opportunities, are highly open, inquisitive, and inclusive, and are early and natural adopters of new technologies to work smarter. They’re also not afraid to call us out—which is great.


Where do you anticipate they will improve the workplace going forward?

Trin answered this one herself with the below:

More entry-level positions/hiring people with no experience

“It’s so hard to get into the industry, you just need (pun intended) a lucky break. This could be improved by offering more work experience, more internship opportunities (paid ones!) and outreach programmes to help people/grads make the first step.” 

Leaning into our digital strengths

“Working smarter, not harder. Using AI, using online platforms to speed things up without compromising on quality.” 

Continuing to improve work-life balance

“Finding space for wellness programmes, mental health days, therapy etc. Essentially asking the question, how can companies put boundaries in place, to help employees put boundaries in place? 

Women supporting women

“Fostering close relationships with female managers, empathetic leadership, being emotionally vulnerable with senior female staff, and sharing experiences outside of the workplace. More female role models, specifically in the creative department.”