A step forward

By Fatima Zakir
Tue, 03, 18

This week, You! takes a look at ‘See It Be It’, a career development and acceleration programme for women...

This week, You! takes a look at ‘See It Be It’, a career development and acceleration programme for women...

Cannes Lions is the biggest festival of creativity around the world that celebrates creative and marketing communications, entertainment, design and tech industries. Initiated by Cannes Lions, ‘See It Be It’ is a career development and acceleration programme for women in the creative communications industry who face diversity challenges and want to lead the way for change.

It provides executive training, mentoring and exclusive networking opportunities while nurturing a community of like minded ambassadors who are encouraged and supported to bring the learning back and help others. The programme begun around five years ago and have been changing lives of women all around the world.

A decade ago or so, we did not have many female advertisers or women in creative communications, forget being in leadership roles. It was considered to be a man’s game. But, not anymore. Not only women are working in creative industries, they are also leading companies and teams.

This year, See It Be It travelled to Pakistan for the first time, realising the importance of having it in a country where women workforce is increasing by the day and the creative communication industry has witnessed a rise in their female staff.

In this regard, an event was organised by Pakistan Advertising Association and Pakistan Advertisers Society in affiliation with Cannes Lions, held recently in Karachi. The speakers at the event covered multiple different fields of profession, along with experience of working in places like London, USA, Singapore, Germany, Dubai and Pakistan. Each speech motivated, inspired and provided life lessons to the audience present at the event. Marian Brannelly and Yasmin Eggar from Cannes Lions UK informed about the importance of such an initiative which gives women the confidence to be whatever they want to be in their lives. “The message of the programme is simple, yet effective, when women can ‘See It’, they will be driven to ‘Be It’,” said Marian Brannelly.

This career acceleration programme helps women connect with the right people and get them one-on-one mentoring sessions with the industry experts to pave the way for their successful careers.

Be it a session by Tahirah Edwards from Saatchi & Saatchi USA or one by Hannah Johnson from Germany, be it the energetic Lizi Hamer from Singapore or Shahnaz Ahmed from UK, they all shared how they are contributing towards the creative field through their out of the box ideas that instantly strike a chord with the audiences. However, it was the local speakers and mentors who highlighted issues close to us.

Farahnaz Haider, GM Marketing Zil Ltd., very efficiently pointed out the things women do unconsciously because that’s how we have been taught to move in a society. We are usually not assertive in our approach which is maybe because we don’t want to be disrespectful to others or are not too confident in our approach. This is something we should avoid and be more self-assured in our dealings at work.

It was followed by the panel discussion that was most intriguing amongst all. With director/producer Ayesha Jalal, filmmaker Amena Khan, Creative Director Beenish Waiz, Creative Director Zehra Zaidi and Brand Consultant Farah Sayeed. The panel explained how to deal with ‘manspalining’ and raised issues like networking after work hours or lack of respect.

“You don’t get business during the day,” stated Ayesha Jalal. “It’s after working hours when guys go out for wine and dine then they talk about business and close most of the deals which women don’t really do.”

Amena Khan was of the similar opinion when she said most decisions are taken during smoke breaks so she makes it clear to her colleagues that it is not on and no decision will be finalised until she is involved in it. “There is a bro code followed in the industry so we sort of have a gal code in my organisation,” shared Amena Khan. “So, it’s all cool now.”

Similarly, Farah Sayeed seconded Amena’s point of view and further highlighted the importance of having forums and gatherings where women can get together and talk about business opportunities, and ways to work together. She also emphasised on how it’s important to raise young boys that there are no gender roles so that every task performed by a woman can be done by a man too.

The hour long panel was immensely interesting and interactive with other issues raised like pay gap between genders, perception that women can quit whenever they want to, having low level of trust, less appreciation and less support from the system. But to sum it all up, if a woman loves her work then there is no power that can ask her to quit and make her feel uncomfortable. Also, hard work and consistency always pay.

Another highlight was the keynote by veteran writer, Haseena Moin, who was candid in her talk and shared how her plays portrayed women as practical, independent, strong yet compassionate. According to her, “Years of hard work have been destroyed by taking women back to the age where they were a helpless victim. Our audience should not be served with such stories and weak female characters in this age and time.”

We crib about the gender imbalance on the top of the hierarchy in most fields but we have to understand that if women don’t pull each other up the corporate ladder then we won’t be able to bridge that gap.