BETC Paris' Associate Director, Marion Gondeau, speaks on her journey to her role and the collective responsibility we have of supporting a more diverse and inclusive world.
Can you tell us a bit about your role and your journey to arriving there?
First, let me tell you about my background. My family lived on a farm. My grandparents worked really hard, day in and day out. And they decided pretty early that their children would have a better life.
They pushed them to study. My uncle travelled the world to develop the French-speaking community, and I grew up at my grandparent’s place with my mom working in a library. At home, we equally discussed the neighbor’s cows being not clean enough and the last book from Toni Morrison.
From my family, I got this moving-forward energy and the belief that everything is possible if you work hard and cultivate your mind. It led me to go to one of the top business schools in France, but not really knowing what I wanted to do.
Until the day people came to present the advertising industry and the kind of jobs you could get. It was a blast. I couldn’t let them go without getting an internship. That is how I started at BETC Paris. 10 years later, I’m an Associate Director at BETC Paris, and guess what, I’m still in love with this incredibly intense job.
Supporting companies in the long run is the greatest adventure. Day after day, you keep developing your expertise and a strong relationship of trust. That’s how we manage to do great things together. One of my proudest is “the little duckling” spot we created for Disneyland Paris.
What barriers do women still face in our industry and how can we challenge them?
Inequality and the society gender bias keep being our main barriers. Girls can do anything they want. Repeat after me: A N Y T H I N G, and they can do it in their own way.
Working at BETC in a women-friendly environment, driven by inspiring women leaders helped me a lot. I feel lucky to work with and among many talented women who are incredibly passionate about their job. I’m inspired by the kind of energy and impact it creates within the workplace. Obviously, there is still a lot of room for improvement. As an example, gender equality is far from being achieved in creative directions.
We need to keep acting and building a strong pipeline of future female leaders. This will come with sponsorships and a strong willingness from our today’s leaders.
Havas is engaged in such an initiative. The group launched a few years ago a global program called Femmes Forward designed to prepare high-potential female employees within the company. I have been sponsored and I can’t wait to be a sponsor.
Let’s keep in mind this is just the beginning. And we shouldn’t ever let our guard down.
How do you use your position to build equitable teams that are diverse and balanced?
As a team leader, it is one of my main preoccupations. Equitable teams go far beyond gender balance. It’s about our ability to welcome and embrace a real diversity of people.
It’s challenging but diversity is the best asset for success. Especially for the advertising industry, that has no other asset than the talent that makes it up. It also contributes to a strong aspiration of people: bringing back all the voices into the conversation. Our clients are transforming as well and promoting a more diverse and inclusive world happens to be an urgent collective responsibility.
It requires some effort both in terms of recruitment & team management; seeking out truly diverse profiles, investing in potential over proof, and giving them the support they need with equitable opportunities. We need to create a (safe) space that enables everyone to reach its own potential.
BETC moved to the north-east suburbs of Paris in 2016. It’s a developing area where various industries and underserved communities live side by side. Once a year, we welcome the area’s students at the agency. We present our work to them and have an open discussion. I hope these encounters will spark something positive.
Who are your female advertising icons/role models and why?
Mercedes Erra is a true female advertising icon. She is the co-founder of BETC and Executive President of Havas Worldwide. She is also chairwoman of the Museum of Immigration History, the mum of 5 boys and an unwavering advocate for human and women rights.
She embodies the power of a singularity that never compromised with her different identities. She speaks up and spreads a very easy-going message for all women: “Take risks and be bold enough to do what you really want to do”.
And I say “let’s do it” because our future needs thousands of different female role models for a better world.