Empowering Women in Advertising: 11 Female Leaders Share Their Advice

Every March, International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month mark an opportunity to celebrate the many notable achievements of women and explore how we can come together to accelerate women’s equality. 

Here at Index, we believe that supporting each other matters, and work every day to break the bias and empower women. These initiatives include leadership education and training opportunities, development sessions around allyship and diversity, our Women in Engineering and the Women’s Network affinity groups, and partnerships with organizations such as She Runs It. We’re committed to embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion into all aspects of our organization so that everyone can be their authentic selves.

It is just as important to activate change in our broader community and support all women in the advertising, marketing, and tech industries. We recognize that diverse perspectives strengthen our community. Together, we can uplift and empower women to help tackle gender bias. 

With that in mind, we turned to a few of the impressive and accomplished women in advertising that we work with on a daily basis to learn from their experiences. Here, these 11 successful women each pass on their best piece of advice to inspire other women in the industry.

1. Ilana Bonas, senior monetization manager at OpenWeb

Ilana Bonas headshot - women in advertising

“As women in a largely male-dominated field, we need to support one another—not only by making connections and providing advice and mentorship, but by creating inclusive spaces where women’s ideas are treated with the same gravity as any other. If pushing harder to be heard feels uncomfortable, lean into it. Use your voice to continue to make change and know that you’re paving the way for women to come, continuing to normalize that we have a seat at the table.”

2. Mahria Braithwaite, senior director of programmatic partnerships at Vox Media

Mahria Braithwaite headshot - women in advertising

“People respect authenticity. It’s ok to show relatability, empathy, and strength as a leader. The greatest act of courage is to be unwavering in your convictions and own who you are. Never be afraid to speak up and be heard while also striving to be the person that shows stability in the success of your work.”

3. Jessica Breslav, chief customer officer at Index Exchange

Jessica Breslav headshot - women in advertising

“Choose kindness and seek to bring others along. This does not preclude the importance of navigating direct, challenging, or opposing positions. I’ve found this is when it matters most and has the most profound impact.”

4. Lori Goode, chief marketing officer at Index Exchange

Lori Goode headshot - women in advertising

“Years ago, I asked a manager for feedback on a presentation I gave—I was worried I didn’t come across with enough gravitas or polish. Surprisingly, he said that he wouldn’t change it—that polish may work for some, but that my style had authenticity and humility—and that allowed me to build trust with my audience and be approachable. It reminded me that there’s tremendous value in leaning into the uniqueness you bring, even if it doesn’t conform to a mold you have in your head for what “good” looks like.”

5. Rose Hutchison, director of advanced advertising solutions at Rogers Sports & Media

Rose Hutchison headshot - women in advertising

“The ad industry is rapidly evolving and becoming more complex. At times, it will feel impossible to keep up and there will be moments when you question your knowledge. You may even feel like everyone else in the room (or on the call) has all the answers and knows what is going on. Trust me, they do not. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get clarity no matter who is in the room. Confidence is built from experience. Staying curious and asking questions is how you grow in your knowledge and confidence.”

6. Motoko Imada, CEO and founder at Mediagene

Motoko Imada headshot - women in advertising

The issue of the gender gap in Japan has been deeply difficult to solve. If we all take this as an opportunity and continue to make conscious changes in our society, we will surely head in the right direction. To establish a gender-balanced society or organization, it is important for each and every one of us to face this issue with awareness and to be prepared to change society. I believe that if we continue to do whatever we do without giving up, we will achieve our goals.”

7. Alex Kirby, global head of programmatic at Future Plc.

Alex Kirby headshot - women in advertising

“Forge your own path. By that I mean, everyone is different and sometimes it feels we need to act or behave in a certain way to get ahead. I think being true to your own style and finding the thing that you are passionate about and motivated by—which also fits into your business and its objectives—is key.”

8. Carey Piraino, senior director of exchange partnerships and analytics at Yahoo

Carey Piraino headshot - women in advertising

“Be ruthless when protecting your boundaries as no one else will do it for you. Ensuring a balance between work and life requires focus and prioritization, which is the foundation for great work. I loved the book “Drop the Ball” by Tiffany Dufu, which embraces the concept of being able to say ‘no’ in order to thrive personally and professionally.”

9. Hortense Thomine Desmazures, deputy general manager in charge of digital activities at M6 Publicité

Hortense Thomine Desmazures headshot - women in advertising

“Trust yourself, and set goals that you want to achieve. The digital advertising industry, and even more the advertising technology ecosystem, is known to still be very ‘masculine,’ sometimes making it more difficult for a woman to find her place. Things are changing, but it will still take time before all the barriers are lifted. In the meantime, we must make sure to help each other and showcase our successes.”

10. Andreina Yanes, director of global partnerships, SSPs at Xandr

Andreina Yanes headshot - women in advertising

“Take stock of what you need to succeed in your role and always ask for it—be it more resources, support from executives, or better comp. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to ask!”

11. Yun Yip, general manager at Foxcatcher

Yun Yip headshot - women in advertising

“Surround yourself with people who empower and inspire you. Rather than envy their success, study it. Ultimately, realize that their pathway can be a guide to your success, but your journey is one that is unique and right for you.”

We pride ourselves on fostering an environment where everyone feels connected and supported. Interested in joining our team? Visit our careers page to view our open opportunities.

Simone Payne-Powell

Simone Payne-Powell

Director, people

Simone Payne - Powell is director, people and the diversity lead at Index Exchange. With over 20 years of experience working in various global tech companies, her focus has always been on ensuring that all employees can be their authentic selves and truly feel like they belong at work—her passion for DE&I has empowered companies to be able to do this. When she is not working, Simone loves to paint and has completed several commissions, as well as spending time with her neurodiverse son, Scott.

Back to blog