While bringing together and empowering the creative community, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity also conducts the 'See It Be It' programme, that focuses on providing a unique platform for female creatives to start conversations with and learn from like-minded women in the industry. A mix of creativity and social cause, I am certain that the programme will be instrumental in driving transformational change in the world.
Through the course of the programme, what resonated with me most was the organisers’ sincere efforts to empower and teach the group of participants. We were introduced to firechats with our mentors, a variety of workshops, and one on one conversations with some of the biggest creative leaders from across the globe.
Day one kickstarted with the 'See It Be It' chair, Madonna Badger (founder and CCO of Badger and Winters), and the entire 'See It Be It' and Cannes Lions team welcoming us and giving us a quick introduction to what was going to be the most incredible week of our lives. This was followed by an insightful workshop by two phenomenal women, Maddy Kramer (ACD, Anomaly NY and co-founder, inVisible Creatives) and Laura Visco (deputy ECD, 72andSunny Amsterdam and co-founder, inVisible Creatives), who spoke to us about the most important brand we will ever work on - ourselves!
We left the session building with a mission, vision and a narrative for our own lives. This was followed by a conversation with the Cannes Lions Mobile Jury and a sneak peak into the judging process. We then had a quick session on ‘How to Win a Lion’, by Susie Walker, head of creative excellence development at Cannes Lions. With dreams of winning many Lions ourselves, we were sent off to Spotify Beach for our next workshop, the best for the day - Inviting Yourself: The Power of Allyship, where we shared our personal stories with each other, discussing the importance of rooting for ourselves, while building strong communities around us. We finished off the day on an exciting note, with the awards show.
Day two was full of a number of speaker sessions conducted by industry stalwarts, on a variety of insightful topics. Annette King (CEO, Publicis Groupe UK) shed light upon how to create our own luck, Alfonso Cuaron (Academy Award Winning Film Director) spoke to us about how to build transformational partnerships, Richard Ting (US CCO and Global Chief Experience Officer, R/GA) discussed the importance of finding a workplace that gives you the freedom to be yourself, Lisen Stromberg (COO, 3% Movement) stressed on the importance of having perspective during difficult situations, Tea Uglow (creative director, Google Creative Lab, Sydney) pushed us to question ourselves and our decisions, Tanya Livesey (global head of creative talent, The Talent Business) reminded us to recognise and then work on our inner critic, and finally, Maureen A. Bryan (founder and CEO, The Voice of a Woman) brought to light the fact that 4 per cent of directors are female, a statistic we needed to turn around.
Post the Awards Show, we spent our time grooving to beats by Nas at the Spotify Beach, reflecting upon two life-changing days that we had spent at Cannes. Little did we know that the best was yet to come.
On day three, we were scheduled to meet our mentors. I was extremely excited, prepared with my long list of questions and to be honest, a bit anxious to meet them! I had the opportunity to be mentored by three amazing leaders. Danielle Lee (global VP, Spotify), Shazia Khan (global chief of staff and chief talent officer, Havas Health & You), and Sukesh Nayak (CCO Oglivy, India). My list of questions soon turned into a powerful exchange of ideas and more so, a purposeful action plan. My mentors were extremely invested in providing me with advice, consolidating my thoughts, and quickly turning all my floating ideas into a structured action plan.
Right after the early morning sessions, we were sent to Google Island for lunch and speaker sessions. The day felt almost complete, but to my surprise we weren’t done yet. What followed was another powerful lineup of speakers waiting for us back at the Palais, including Cindy Gallop (founder, MakeLoveNotPorn), Joanna Coles (former editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan), and the cohort of SIBI Alumni. We then made way to the FCB Yacht to attend a screening by the Athena Film Festival, where we applauded Swati Bhattacharyya’s (CCO, FCB Ulka, India) incredible Sindoor Khela campaign, and listened to a heart warming ode to her achievements and strengths by Susan Credle, CCO of FCB Global. Swati was to be the ambassador of the 'See It Be It' programme this year; however she couldn’t join us due to an emergency back home, though we felt her presence in spirit.
I’m leaving Cannes with some of the best friendships, with a cohort of inspiring women who truly want to see each other grow. This is just the start of a magical journey for us participants, and it only remains to be seen how we use our learnings from the programme to make a difference in the world in our own little ways.
The author is COO, Supari Studios.