“Anything that speaks to your soul is a great project,” Mara Lecocq told Adspire earlier this year.
In her case, that makes for quite a few great projects.
Mara is a personable trailblazer, a pragmatic creative and a champion of young womxn in STEM and advertising.
After growing up in the Philippines and getting her Bachelor's in France, she started her career as an art director at BETC in Paris.
Since then she's brought her talent over to Canada and then New York, transitioning from a freelancing creative director to her current role as brand & community director for Fishbowl, an social network for open and honest conversations with professionals in your industry.
Below: Mara led the idea & co-creative direction for Verizon's "women in STEM" campaign
One of her most reputable side hustles, however, is a website named Where Are The Boss Ladies.
The online project shares a list of names, wisdom and inspo from the baddest ad ladies in the biz (can you imagine why we profiled her?), sorting the womxn by role, color, city and agency. The lists are paired with employee compliments as well, so you can hear the strong suits of all your potential future mentors.
Dope concept, but where did it come from?
"It's all about the boss."
After being in advertising for 13 years, Mara realized she never had a female boss, nor a female role model in the industry. She had a lot of middle-aged guys to look up to, but she didn’t relate to their leadership- or lifestyles. She wanted someone who was a mom, had a family and juggled through numerous priorities like she did.
Not that men don’t have families, but it's been proven that mothers carry the bulk of household chores, so Mara yearned for a mentor who understood the necessity of work-life balance and the no-work-on-Sundays leadership style that was part of it.
She wasn’t alone.
“I was just hearing more and more brilliant womxn who are moving up the ladder, wanting to leave this industry in their mid-30s because they don’t feel represented, they don’t feel supported, they don’t feel it’s possible to be a trailblazer with kids,” Mara said.
“I think this is not a thing that you read anywhere, or that people really talk about. I think a lot of trailblazers would rather- I mean, I feel this - I would rather step out [of the industry], than be a B-player if I had kids. I’ve seen so many moms put on the sidelines just because they have to leave [work] by 5 p.m.”
Mara’s point was an important one facing many ad womxn today: the seeming choice between raising a family and being successful. Now, she’s trying to make it so womxn don’t have to choose by connecting them with womxn leaders and bosses who truly understand.
"So many people my age today still don’t know that it’s all about the boss," Mara said. "Your happiness is dependent on how your boss appreciates you. They are almost more important than the place itself. Better to choose a great boss at an unglamorous place than a bad boss at a glamorous place. People don’t leave their companies - they leave their managers."
And WhereAreTheBossLadies.com is a great resource to find female-friendly ones.
"You can’t be what you can’t see."
Growing up with a love for coding, Mara learned early how important representation was, especially in the STEM industry. She knew that diversity made room for different leadership styles, but it started with womxn being able to see themselves as the leaders.
So, she created a customizable children’s book by the name of Secret Code. The project allows parents to customize a tech hero that looks just like their daughter, who receives a book and video game in which she, the protagonist, lives out her destiny.
So. How. Does. She. Do. It. All.
"Quality takes time."
Her MO^ means you won’t be able to be the best employee, the best girlfriend, while also having the best skin and best exercise regimen. “You have to choose one or two - which are the ones you most want to invest in?”
Below: Mara led art for a spirit-powered Christmas tree.
Imposter syndrome is no stranger to Mara, either. But when it comes to creatives, whose successes are often intangible, Mara noted that insecurity and doubt are normal add-ons. Understanding that they may come is the first step of not being so afraid when they do.
When it comes to Mara’s final tips for up-and-coming ad womxn, she said:
1. Make your boss’s life easy.
If you want to move up the ladder fast, give them time back in their day. Make them proud and make them look good in front of their bosses. Be positive, solutions-focused and helpful. Shit goes down at work. The last thing people want is someone who brings the energy down. Shed your light when the team is in the darkness. People will soon get addicted to you.
2. Take responsibility if shit goes down.
It is a sign of confidence and leadership. People will notice you have it in you.
3. Be honest.
Stand out by speaking your mind, but always in a positive, constructive way. If you’re thinking it, there’s a chance that more than 50 percent of the room is thinking it too, but people are afraid of saying the truth. Take this as an opportunity to stand out. Leaders want people to fix problems. Being honest with the issues is the first step to get there.
All that's left to do is take this boss lady's wisdom and become one yourself.
Learn more about Mara Lecocq and her epicness on her portfolio right here.