“When I began my career there was a lot of emphasis placed on credentials, things like degrees and work experience. Whereas now when I build teams, I look for character traits. Women are empathetic, nurturing, intuitive, passionate…to me, that carries so much more weight and currency than what’s on paper.”
As you can imagine, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Zemina in the marketing world as a woman of colour. For most of her career she found herself second to whoever was in charge. As such, she made herself indispensable: always feeling like she had to know everything and be everything in support of her leaders. At the time, as women are socialised to, she saw this as a privilege:
“I remember thinking it was great to be second in command. That every time the CEO had a question I’d be the one to answer it, or do the work for them. A turning point for me occurred when yet another CEO cycled through and immediately started gravitating to me. That’s when I really started to think: why am I always second? Could I be first?”
The answer, thankfully, was yes. After over a decade at Ogilvy, Zemina joined Sid Lee to head Account Management in Toronto, where she rules with an iron fist. Just kidding. Her leadership style is more like, well, her: down-to-earth, fluid, and open. Instead of roles, she sees humans, replete with good days, bad days, solid ideas and room to grow.
Without question, it’s the leadership style of the future. We’re thrilled to see Zemina have her time in the sun.
There’s more to read about inspiring women like Marie-Elaine, and Isabelle.