Use your platform for change

Proper representation across all spectrums supports Ogilvy's ethos of borderless creativity

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Ogilvy
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New York, United States
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Patou Nuytemans
CEO EMEA Ogilvy Worldwide
 

Patou Nuytemans, EMEA CEO at Ogilvy, is an innovative leader with broad and in-depth knowledge across all marketing disciplines. An emphatic, authentic, communicative and collaborative leader, Patou is driven by leading with empathy and a people first mentality. Speaking on creating more equal workplaces, she delineates opportunities for bringing people of all backgrounds together, which unlocks creativity and shared ambition.

 

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

I think anyone in a leadership role has a responsibility to use their position as a platform for change. For me it’s first and foremost about representation. Throughout my career I considered my nationality as a challenge for key international roles, being from a smaller market like Belgium... believing that leadership is mainly for people from leading countries or large economies. This is why representation is so important. Representation in gender, ethnicity, nationality, and more, and across all layers of the organization. Today, I am very deliberate in making clear this is the foundation of our strategy. Diversity makes our product - which is creativity - better. We purposefully call it borderless creativity.

 

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

It’s natural for us to take inspiration from our experiences into our work, and vis versa. I would say I am naturally empathetic, which is a trait I would associate to my experiences of being a woman. This helps me relate to people and connect teams.

I once watched a Ted X talk by Angela Ahrendts on her time as CEO of Burberry that inspired me. She talks about how she believes that human energy singlehandedly has the power to unite and transform companies. The process of harnessing this power begins with building trust, which then unlocks intuition, and ultimately unlocks creativity and shared ambition. Since then, I purposefully try to lead as a conductor of human energy, harnessing my empathy. My focus is hence people first, as individuals but also as a team and as a culture, bringing people from different skills, nationalities, backgrounds, perspectives, ages together in a trusted environment.

 

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?

We are on a tipping point of real change within the workplace; covid was of course a catalyst for this but I think younger generations are now entering into the working world and demanding different, and arguably, better. I’m excited to see how Gen Z will continue to challenge the status quo - this is the generation that will grow up with diversity in leadership roles; they will innately know it is ok to be different and that this is their superpower.

I also believe that Gen Z are accelerating the progress to a better leadership environment - moving away from the traditional transactional leadership which was very top-down, directive and allowing for little exchange. In my experience, that is not how you get the best out of Gen Z... they want to be a part of the conversation and decision making. In times of changes and of need for collaboration, transformative leadership that is supportive of the individual as well as facilitating the team, consultative and engaging is critical in my view.

Often associated as a more feminine style, there is a misconception that a transformational leadership style is emotional and could lack ambition for excellence and results. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's about understanding and directing the human energy – of both the individual and the team – towards shared goals that are best for people first, and then also the business.

 

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

I suppose it's normal that in my own journey I have only become more recently very aware of the challenges older women face in the world - in every industry and beyond work, in life. It's sad. I read an article last year in Harvard Business Review which talked to the bias women in leadership face at every age, which really shows this isn’t exclusively a challenge as we get older. In my opinion, women, much more than men, face more judgement in general, and specifically in the context of their age. Purposeful representation once again is the only answer... as this allows the challenge to be discussed as part of the company strategy, hopefully influencing future generations in their beliefs and choices in work and life.