Situation's Pippa Bexon Talks Collaborative Culture

I think, as a woman on the agency side, it is still on us to bridge that gap when in truth it needs to be a collaborative effort on all sides.

Pippa Bexon
Group Director, Client Services Situation
 

Pippa is an advertising and marketing professional with over 11 years of experience working across the advertising landscape in the both New York City and London.

Beginning her career in London at AKA, Pippa oversaw over 30 advertising campaigns for theatre productions both in the West End and on Broadway. After three years in London, Pippa moved to NYC to join the AKA NY team, specializing in account management, media, and strategy. Following AKA NY, Pippa spent time at Sony Music working with their in-house branding agency on a variety of music projects and consumer products – most notably on American Express and KPMG.

Since 2015 Pippa has been at Situation– a digital agency best known for helping brands build passionate communities through digital-first marketing strategies. As Director of Client Services, Pippa leads digital strategy for many Broadway show, arts and culture institutions, TV, and non-profit clients. She has worked on clients such as We TV, Cirque Du Soleil, Wicked, and Mean Girls.

Pippa graduated from Durham University in the UK, with a Bachelor of Sciences in Psychology, and minor in English Literature. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York and enjoys going to see live music and planning her next travel adventure. In her spare time, you can find her writing creative fiction.

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How would you describe the overall culture at your agency and would you say that there is a separate female culture?    

Situation has a highly open and collaborative culture; it encourages thinking from every corner regardless of experience, tenure or department. The leadership team at the agency is over 60% female, and we have some phenomenal women at the VP level who really champion the team and lead by example.   

In your opinion, what do you see as being the biggest change in the advertising industry since women have begun to break the “glass ceiling”?

While we have seen progress, I believe there is still a long way to go. The further up the seniority ladder you climb, the fewer women you see in leadership roles (especially on the creative side). However, those women who rise to the top are actively pulling up underrepresented people right behind them. The diversity around the table is also starting to shift, and I find this heightened level of awareness and collaboration highly encouraging for the future of the industry. I firmly believe that welcoming diverse voices into the room leads to smarter work, and we’re really getting there.    

What are some of the challenges that women still face in the industry?

This industry has traditionally been a men’s club with male execs, male clients, and a lot of conversations happening outside the conference room. The biggest challenge I’ve had as a woman in the industry is needing to work harder to prove myself as an equal with male clients (especially those who are 25+ years my senior). Over my career, I’ve come to learn that it’s paramount to find a human connection and build a relationship that transcends the work regardless of gender. The best client relationships are built on a foundation of trust and respect, so identifying what your shared interests and passions are can lead to a long-lasting client relationship. I think, as a woman on the agency side, it is still on us to bridge that gap when in truth it needs to be a collaborative effort on all sides. 

What steps do you take to ensure you achieve a healthy work-life balance?

You’ve got to learn to let it go! Working with clients is a 24/7 business, and you must mindfully carve out time for yourself. It is all too easy to live or die by your client, but you need to acknowledge that you can’t control everything. Advertising is a team sport. I think it is incredibly important to not just physically step away from your desk but mentally too. Three major things I do:

Don’t be scared to ask for help. It shows that you know your own strengths and limitations, and you are willing to seek out the answers to grow and do great work.

In the evenings, I keep my phone in another room to reduce the impulse to check and recheck my inbox constantly.

To really disconnect, you’ll find me running along the Hudson River in New York City. Plus, you can learn from my mistakes that it’s almost impossible to run and email at the same time.  

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of moving to New York City from London when I was just starting out my career. I didn’t have an end goal in mind but came ready to learn as much as I could. Moving was a considerable risk, but I was motivated by the exciting culture and inspiring people. And there was also that time I got to present our digital marketing strategy for Mean Girls the Musical to the ultimate lady boss, Tina Fey.  

Tell us about a mentor that helped guide you in your career. What made them so special?              

My first boss in London was an amazing mentor. Early on, she took me to the side to ask me what I really wanted and how hard was I willing to work for it. She committed to being 100% available to me if I showed the same passion and dedication. Even though she was incredibly busy, and this was more time than she could afford, she always made time for me and made me feel like a priority. What followed was a year of constant feedback and lots of critical appraisals. Sometimes her feedback was hard to hear, but we were in it together and I really felt she was invested in my success. I moved to NYC with the same agency the following year, and that wouldn’t have happened without her.

How do you as a successful woman plan to inspire the next generation of women?

I hope I can prove to them that you can absolutely exceed expectations if you work hard. However, more than that, I hope that they see that you don’t have to push others down to rise to the top. You shouldn’t worry about what others are doing but rather lead by example; be collaborative, be kind and bring a willingness to listen. You can still be a great leader, be assertive, and be a ‘boss’ without having to compromise on what would typically be perceived as softer personality traits. Bringing empathy and thoughtfulness into the workplace will make you a stronger leader and ultimately make the work you do so much more rewarding.