Yvie Balbuena, TBWA\RAAD: "Leading by example paves the way for younger women to break into the industry."

Showing support for each other goes a long way in equalizing the playing field

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Yvie Balbuena
Group Account Director TBWA\RAAD

Yvie has spent her adult years working in Paris, London & the Middle East, developing her career at Global Advertising Agencies such as BBDO, DDB, Ogilvy, JWT, FP7 & Mullen Lowe.Her 22 years of Advertising Agency experience spans across a variety of different industries, developing fully integrated campaigns for brands such as PepsiCo, Emirates Airlines, Rolex, Ford Motors, Johnson & Johnson Skincare, Procter & Gamble, Gillette & Venus, Unilever Hair brands, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Microsoft Technologies, G42 Artificial Intelligence, Dubai Tourism, Expo 2020, Starbucks and NEOM Tourism.

A lover of people, Yvie prides herself in her relationships & partnerships with Clients & colleagues as well as her ability to work with different cultures, speaking fluent French, English & Spanish. Utilizing her passion for people, she shares insights for supporting women in the industry and bridging the gap between generations. 


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

Women in advertising can play a crucial role in paving the way for younger women wanting to break into the industry. Firstly, I think that adapting a ‘sisterhood’ mentality is the foundational element from which all other supportive measures can stem. 

Secondly, women are very resourceful and exceptional networkers. It is through this savoir-faire that we can build important connections and open windows of opportunity for younger generations. Within these contexts, we pave the way in creating safe and open spaces for women to express their ideas, concerns, and ambitions without any judgement. This type of environment also enables women to share personal experiences, challenges faced, and lessons learned, providing insights and guidance on how they have navigated their way through the industry.

Third, mentoring programs is another means of showing support for younger women in the industry whereby experienced women can mentor, coach and provide guidance on career development. In the same vein, women in senior positions can act as advocates of their younger protégés by recommending them for certain projects or leadership positions.

Fourth, leading by example paves the way for younger women to break into the industry. By demonstrating leadership qualities, resilience, and perseverance in the face of challenges, women in senior management can help inspire younger women to aspire to leadership roles within the industry and set their goals high for their career path. The sky really should be the limit!

And lastly, recognizing and celebrating the achievements and contributions of younger women in advertising can inspire them to continue striving for excellence and serve as role models for younger women that will follow after them. In this way, the same positive pattern is repeated generation after generation.


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

The answer to this dilemma would require a unified effort from multiple stakeholders in any business. 

From a HR perspective, Education & Awareness training programs are important to inform employees of unconscious bias, as well as Anti-Discrimination and diverse hiring practices that ensure our agencies are peppered with talent of all ages.

Changing the way we think is also key so that we can promote age diversity in leadership, as we often look for ‘years of experience’ as a key criteria and indication of someone fit to do the job.  

Also, Agencies need to look at their internal policies to encourage flexible work arrangements to facilitate and cater to professional mothers who would normally shy away from or take a career change from the industry after having children. There is often the misconception that the two cannot go hand in hand. Since Covid, we have seen many companies adapt a more fluid WFH policy which fundamentally helps professional women manage their multiple responsibilities. The industry really needs to support women throughout the different stages of their lives in order to help retain key talent from going elsewhere.

Lastly, from a recruitment perspective, encouraging Mentorship and Sponsorship programs that are not-age specific: from Graduate recruitment schemes for the young, to work experience opportunities for the more discerned. Experience never gets old. ‘The Intern’ Film with Robert De Niro showed us this!


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

Being a woman, particularly a working mom, has helped to bring distance and perspective to my work as a marketeer. Firstly, the ability to multi-task, keep a cool head and focus on the real client issues at hand. Secondly, in terms of fostering more nurturing relationships with both team members and clients alike makes for more solid relationships which ultimately leads to better work.


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 this business, its crucial to surround oneself with young people. Just because you are of a ripe old age, you can never assume that you have all the answers. And our Gen Z’ers teach us something new every day. From real-time insights to new technologies, idioms and trends, Gen Z’ers are a pivotal part of any Agency’s arsenal. I also think this helps professional moms to keep in tune with their kids, bridging the gap between different generations and staying ‘cool.’