Ask Women Anything with Managing Director Sophia Zhang

Q. Describe the creative process when you need to come up with a highly unique solution. 

To me, creativity is constant. And it is a habit. It is not something you can turn on and off, and tap into when you need to come up with a pitch solution or a headline. It is because creativity lives at the convergence of cognitive diversity and opportunity. 

Cognitive diversity is gained through the continuous absorption of ideas, knowledge, and opinions from people and sources who are vastly different from yourself and from each other. Opportunity is the time, space, and platform we as leaders can provide for the application, molding, and conjoining of all the disparate ideas into something that is new, exciting, creative, and with a dash of luck, innovative.

Q. In your career, have you ever felt discriminated against because of your gender? If so, how did you handle it?

All the time. With that said, I have been extremely lucky in my career to have had mentors and leaders (both males and females) along the way who have been incredible advocates for me. They have guided me, stood up for me, and occasionally shielded me from the prejudicial treatment of being a woman in the workplace. Those experiences, while negative, have positively shaped me as a leader. They taught me how to advocate for and protect my team, especially those that have a marginalized voice at the table.  

At GALE, “Everyone Matters” is one of our 7 core values. It is one of my favorite core values because it is what drives all of our decisions around recognition, ways of working, and recruiting. We give a lot of care and thought to providing everyone, no matter who they are, equal access to opportunities at the agency.

Q. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to get into advertising? 

To not be afraid, to just start. I often meet with young people who are aspiring to join an agency, but they are hesitant to apply because they want to add that one extra piece to their portfolio, or they want to take that one last course or certification. I always say: don’t wait. Find people that believe in your passion and capabilities, work hard, and work broad across as many types of projects you can get your hands on. Experience is the most valuable currency in this industry over any portfolios and degrees.

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