EPISODE #64 || Vanessa Toro, Vice President of Creative Strategy at Digitas

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Vanessa Toro, Vice President of Creative Strategy at Digitas, speaks to all the outliers in the industry who don’t come from an advertising background. Hear about why it’s important to be out participating in the world, navigating the cultural and social norms of working at an agency, how her identity as a woman of color influences her leadership style, and why she’s not here for strategy jargon.

Topics Discussed

  • How advertising found her, and how everything she did beforehand (including retail, working at a post office, dance) helped to build the skills she uses today.

  • Why it’s important to be out participating in the world vs. just sitting behind the desk, googling things. 

  • Navigating the cultural and social norms of working at an agency, how her imposter syndrome manifests, and observing the larger context to determine how to bring your full self to work. 

  • How her identity as a woman of color influences her leadership style.

  • Balancing being direct and asserting yourself with having tact, and speaking up so others don’t make assumptions about you. 

  • Her approach to teaching strategy, and why she’s not here for gratuitous over-complication and strategic jargon.

Mic Drops

“At the core, I think planning is about changing—changing the world, changing behavior, changing business results—change. To me it’s very important to not simply sit in theory or the academic rigor, but really be about making stuff, and bringing things to life.”

“As a woman of color,  I prioritize the people. I’m all about the people and what they want out of their career. Their shaping their career while they’re going through their career. What do you want to work on? What are you not getting enough of? […] I make a point to develop the women around me, and mentor them. And I want to see everybody up here.”

“Tell the truth and assert yourself, but 1) care about how it’s received, but more importantly, judge or speak to what you need or the behavior, and not the person.”

“People fill in the gap of your silence with their own stuff. ‘She’s shy, she’s not confident, she’s blank.’ You don’t want to give people that control over your narrative. Speaking up is essential for carving away from any of those preconceived notions surrounding quietness or being timid.”

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About Vanessa

Vanessa Toro is Vice President of Creative Strategy at Digitas. She is responsible for providing strategic and creative direction for clients and partner agencies alike. Relentlessly focused on helping brands harness culture, she has led the thinking for clients such as SunTrust, Brookdale Senior Living, FIS, Delta Air Lines, and T-Mobile for Business. 

Vanessa believes advertising, at its best, propels culture forward rather than merely functioning as its mirror. 

Dedicated to disturbing the status quo, Vanessa serves as an instructor at Miami Ad School, an advisor to political campaigns, and an assistant to visiting International street artists.

She hates jargon.