Ogilvy NY, Marina Biglione: "Ogilvy sets a baseline of flexibility to work for any and all. "

The agency empowers employees to set boundaries for work-life balance

кем India Fizer , AdForum

Ogilvy New York
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New York, United States
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Marina Biglione
Managing Director Ogilvy New York

With an industry as demanding as advertising, it can be quite difficult to have a healthy work-life balance, especially as a working parent. Marina Biglione, Managing Director at Ogilvy NY, delineates Ogilvy's mission to create a fluid work environment where employees are encouraged to set boundaries for a better balance between their work and personal commitments.


Tell us a bit about your role. How does your experience as a parent inform your work? 

I am a Business Lead at Ogilvy New York, running the Nestlé business across the US. That means leading a team of about 25 brilliant minds to help drive impact for Nestlé brands and their business. And by virtue of their iconic baby nutrition brand Gerber, I’m proud to say every day I spend a significant part of my time thinking and talking about how we can help parents and babies thrive. I can certainly say my work and personal life are rather fluid, each influencing and impacting the other, which I very much enjoy and feel grateful for.


In what ways does your agency support flexible work arrangements to accommodate the diverse needs of working parents?

Beyond a fairly generous (for US standards) parental leave for both moms and dads, Ogilvy offers a variety of mental health benefits, from hybrid working to access to mental health resources, as well as discounts and vouchers for childcare. Last year, Ogilvy also expanded its family building benefits, introducing enhanced benefits for fertility treatments, surrogacy arrangements, and adoption services—in many ways, the journey of a parent begins before a baby or child even arrives.

Everyone, parent or not, has different needs, wants and demands on their time—and it’s ultimately the culture of a business that allows you to effectively manage those personal circumstances. Ogilvy sets a baseline of flexibility to work for any and all.

The advertising industry can be a 24/7 service, especially when you are leading a client business as part of a global operation. The idea of a 9-5 job doesn’t really apply, so it’s on each of us (especially when parenting is a 24/7 job on its own) to figure out how to make this work with our teams and leadership.

I became a parent during the pandemic, which helped allow me to set more clear boundaries by carving out time for myself, my family, and for work, as well as learning how to work remotely. I have blocks of hours in the day where, unless something is on fire, I am unavailable for calls/emails/meetings, and daycare pickup and drop-off time is only used for exceptions. And when I’m at work, I’m 100% focused. When you’re a parent, time is even more precious, because it’s not just yours that’s at stake. So, you have to prioritize and focus on what needs doing. 

The important point here is that everyone, parent or not, has the right to set similar boundaries, without these necessarily being written in the company policy. You have the right to decline a meeting, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you cannot attend the meeting beyond that you have another commitment already. This is powerful as it signals to others they can rely on you. You say “yes” to something, you’ll 100% do it. And you say “no” when you cannot guarantee to deliver.  


Advertising plays a vital role in influencing public perception. How are agencies and brands adapting ad comms to inclusivity around parenting?

I think advertising, specifically in the US, has been stepping up its game over the past several years when it comes to showing empathy and portraying real life as much as possible in order to better relate with consumers – Dove Men + Care is an immediate example that springs to mind.

Also, nowadays the traditional role of the stay-at-home mom is rarely shown, but when it is, it’s now widely celebrated as a woman running a family business. The overall message that brands are generally embracing is that parenting is imperfect and sometimes messy—this was the focus of our most recent campaign for Gerber, ‘Decisions’. Just like beauty, setting realistic parenting standards is not only about being a good citizen, it’s also about understanding your consumer who lives those tensions every day. The mutual push from agencies and brands alike is the only way we can break down stereotypes.