Karen Ferry's Cannes Diary #1

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.43.48 pm.jpgKaren Ferry (left with Leo), senior copywriter at Leo Burnett Sydney is representing Australia in this year's See It Be It programme in Cannes. Here she shares her experiences straight from the festival, exclusively for CB.

So, this is it. Cannes. Finally being here feels strangely surreal; a falsity of the imagination. Because, like most creatives in Australia, I haven't been to Cannes before. The dream of teams being sent on the whiff of a shortlist died years ago. And the festival itself exists so much through the stories brought home from previous weary travellers. Cannes is (debatably) the holy grail of advertising trophies, and this festival our pilgrimage. Are you really full advertising if you haven't had an overfoamed, overpriced cappuccino and partied at Gutter Bar?

But this year I have been chosen. Plucked from 600 entries of senior creative women from around the world to attend See It Be It, a female leadership program run by Cannes.
Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.44.00 pm.jpgAnd so, as the planes descend in the chaos of flight and train strikes, the twenty international delegates begin to appear one by one in our hotel over the weekend, like characters in an Agatha Christie novel. This year, there's attendees from India, Dubai, the US, Uruguay, Uganda, Lebanon, and even Legoland.

See It Be It was created by Cannes Lions after they noticed that delegate numbers in women dropped from 50% of attendees under the age of 30, to only 27% over the age of 30. Although they can't change the makeup of the industry in a week, they can help senior women find the strength not to leave. And the program aims to teach us to share the knowledge we gain here with women back at our respective home countries.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.44.10 pm.jpgAnd this year, the program is guided by the formidable and warm Chloe Gottlieb (far right). Her intention is to arm us with a toolkit that will help us lead from within.

After welcome speeches on Sunday and a dinner that looks like the supporting cast of the Little Mermaid served on platters, we start Monday with the first of three topics: resilience. Because the reality is, we will have shit thrown at us our entire lives. And no one can predict what it is - it could be something as insidious as unconscious bias within promotion selections, to sexual harassment and bullying. But the ability to not be ground down, or if you are, being capable to rebuild yourself after, is what's vital.

This is broken through sessions, starting with a chat with Tea Uglow, who is my new Australian idol. There's a press briefing. And an amazing workshop on developing resilient habits with Tanya Livesey. We learn different techniques on how to best work with our leaders, and how to be good leaders. How to train ourselves mentally to be better prepared for what comes up. And small, helpful things. Like doing power poses to flood testosterone through your body for an instant boost of confidence.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.44.24 pm.jpgOutside of our sessions, the Palais is heaving. There are queues for sessions with celebrities. There's hundreds of delegates repping China, which is intriguing for this Western-based festival. And there's also branding everywhere. Posters strewn across the walls, like a uni campus. The positivity and change in the industry is thick in the air and it's clear that advertising isn't dead, it's heading in a new direction. And if anything, it's made it clear that female creative leaders have a place in it.

But resilience isn't about being impervious and hard. You still need to appreciate your vulnerability and humanity. Chloe believes one of the keys to this is starting each day withScreen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.44.36 pm.jpg gratefulness. And today, I'm grateful for the people that gave me the opportunities that led me here.

Ashadi Hopper, for hiring an Asian female copywriter over a decade ago, with no agency experience.

Sarah Palmer, for putting me forward for the AWARD Creative Leadership training.

Brendan Willenberg, for choosing me as co-head of AWARD School.

The producers at Gruen, who thought they should give a millennial with no fancy title but a lot of opinions a crack at being on TV.

And the See it Be It team, for choosing me to be here.

Each of these things could not have happened without the person before them giving me a chance. Because true leadership is about creating opportunities for the people underneath you, not hogging them for yourself. True leadership is knowing that the room you walked into, doesn't need to be the same when you leave.


Karen Rules said:

More Karen content please.

It's a crime Karen's not a CD said:

I second that. Way more Karen please.

If only more of our current industy leaders thought like this... said:

"Because true leadership is about creating opportunities for the people underneath you, not hogging them for yourself. True leadership is knowing that the room you walked into, doesn't need to be the same when you leave."

Alison Cole said:

Valuable and thoughtful insights Karen that are articulated so well! We're so lucky to have you in the industry!!

Villa with a view said:

Karen you also missed the glory days at Leos when Andy used to fly the entire creative department to Cannes every year. For some strange reason, that doesn't happen anymore...

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