24 Aug 2017

By Whitney Johnson – Co-founder of Forty Women Over 40 to Watch

DDB Worldwide
Wendy Clark, CEO at DDB Worldwide in North America

With eight years in senior marketing leadership at Coca-Cola Company behind her, Wendy Clark recently transitioned to CEO at DDB Worldwide in North America, a powerhouse advertising agency where, in less than 18 months she has “reinvented the agency model.” Along the way the agency has pulled in new clients with names like Jeep, Merck, and McDonald’s. The quality of Clark’s leadership earned her the Ad Age 2017 Executive of the Year accolade. While participating last year on an Advertising Week panel in New York City, Clark responded to the unfortunately common collegial criticism that she (and other women) achieve executive leadership positions based on the quotas increasingly demanded by diversity initiatives at top companies, rather than on their own merits. “In the back of my mind, I’m like ‘I will crush each one of you.’” Crushing she is.

Here’s a bit more of her story in her own words:

Pivotal Moment of Reinvention

By definition marketing must evolve with its marketplace and consumers, so as a marketer I’d like to think that I’m constantly looking to evolve my thinking and approaches in-line with the markets we serve. To me, change is exciting and important. I’m not intimidated by what I don’t know. I’m intrigued and curious about it. One saying that my former boss would say often was “if you don’t like change, you’ll like irrelevance even less.” I think that about captures it.

Valuable Mentor/Sponsor

So many mentors and counselors in my journey. At GSD&M, I learned from Roy Spence and Judy Trabulsi that humanity matters and that you don’t have to be smart at the cost of kind. You can (and must) be both. At the new AT&T I learned from our CEO, Ed Whitacre that great leaders listen more than they talk. He was a man of few, choice words, but when he talked everyone listened. From Muhtar Kent, CEO at Coca-Cola, I learned that it’s important to manage the present AND invent the future. Successful leaders are deeply passionate today but not at the cost of creating tomorrow.

Moonshot Goal

At home, to raise bright, vibrant, curious children that want to do their part to make the world better.

At work, along with the 2,000 strong at DDB North America, to create the resurgence of this majestic and important advertising icon in the US.

First Job/Second Job

I like talking about my first job after college because it’s advice I offer to today’s grads. My first job was as a receptionist in an ad agency. I was convinced I wanted to be in advertising but right out of college I couldn’t get in without experience. So I found an opening for a receptionist at an ad agency and answered their phones and stocked their fridge with drinks and snacks. I knew if I could just get in there I could prove myself, and within six months that’s what happened as I moved into the account team. The point is, never be above doing anything.


On the beach. Nothing like it. Waves, sand, sunrise, sunset. And exhale.

Best Piece of Advice Received

Never believe your own press. The minute you do, you’ll stop trying as hard.

What is your secret indulgence?

Well, it’s not a secret. I eat literal volumes of chocolate. Anyone who wants something typically shows up with chocolate. And they pretty much get whatever they want.

Whitney Johnson is the author of the critically-acclaimed Disrupt Yourself, host of a podcast by the same name, and a co-founder with Christina Vuleta, of Forty Women Over 40 to Watch.

Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine

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