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What I got to see, and what I now aspire to be.

This year, the Cannes Lions Festival launched an incredible initiative to help address the staggering gender imbalance that exists in creative departments across the globe.

Only 3% of creative directors globally are women. And as the saying goes: you can’t be what you can’t see. So, in an effort to highlight some amazing female talent, and inspire more women to aim for those leadership roles, Cannes’ See It Be It was born.

The program saw 12 female creative leaders flown in from all over the world to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime Cannes experience. I was one of them.

It was a whirlwind experience that had me pinching myself whenever I had a second. Which wasn’t as often as you might think.

12 seminars. 6 forums. 4 meet and greets with superstars. 7 parties. 5 press interviews. 2 leadership boot camps. 18 mentors. 5 closed presentations. 2 award shows. And more new girlfriends than you can count on two hands.

Through it all, one main theme seemed to emerge: advertising being used a platform to drive important social change.

I saw socially conscientious work dominate at the award shows. Campaigns like Sweetie, ANZ GayTMs, The Speaking Exchange and Autocomplete Truth proved that advertising can (and should) use movements to market brands.

The speakers I saw also praised campaigns driving equality. Particularly those that dealt with gender bias, like Pantene’s ‘Shine Strong’ campaign, and Dove’s ‘Real Dad Moments’ spot for Father’s Day.

It was all really inspiring stuff that shone a light on the intricate cultural issues at play behind some of society’s biggest challenges – underrepresentation of women, included.

It made me think. A lot.

When I boarded my flight back to London, I looked back on what I’d seen – and forward to what it was that I wanted to be. In that moment, one quote in particular came to mind. A snippet of a conversation we’d had with Josy Paul (Creative Chairman of BBDO India) as part of See It Be It. He’d said ‘Advertising today is where the artist meets the activist.’

There it was.

I went to Cannes to help highlight an issue and affect change within our industry. And I left with a bigger job. To never stop.