NYC Recap: Changemaker Chat with Suzanne Powers

Bring Your Whole Self.

This month, Changemaker Chats across the country delved into the theme of risk. In New York, we sat down with Suzanne Powers, Global Chief Strategy Officer of McCann Worldgroup, to discuss how she views risk as opportunity and from where she learned her powers. 

From wrangling disparate groups of preschoolers to pitching radio DJs entertainment stories to hiring santas and elves for holiday events at shopping malls, Suzanne’s cumulative learning from each experience ultimately led to a career in strategy. Now, working with some of the most iconic brands of our time across geographies and cultures, she reflected on her journey with humor and grace.

Fake it ‘til you make it. There will be times when you don’t know what you’re doing but if you listen and have conviction it can go a long way. “Just keep swimming and you will get somewhere.”

Knowledge is part of confidence. If you come from a place of facts, you will have more to stand on and be that much more powerful against adversity.

Commanding a room = Comedy + Connection. Learning from her father, a former pediatric infectious disease specialist working in cystic fibrosis who used humor to disarm a room before presenting, Suzanne touted the importance of laughter and locating allies within the space.

Avoid burn out. In the midst of a burnout, you’re not helping anyone. “Know your own signs. No one is going to tell you [to take time off].” Intentionally schedule appointments for yourself in order to avoid burnout and stay refreshed.

Bring your whole self. It was her advice on her nametag, and is pretty self-explanatory: show up and be awesome.

Take a victory lap. Women need to own their success and stop feeling like an imposter in the room. After all that effort, a victory lap or impromptu happy dance is well-warranted.

On gender gaps in advertising. More focused on age than gender early in her career, Suzanne now notices the scarcity of women in the boardroom and suggested that career advancement based on awards may be part of the problem. “The second you add diversity and a more equal juror set, you get different ideas coming through that will create change.”

Mastery can be validation. Take learning from every experience to build your repertoire. Knowing you have done a good job is validation.

Some risks, while scary, are opportunities. In those moments, Suzanne surrounds herself with people who can give critical feedback as she learns along the way.


Thank you to everyone who joined us on Wednesday for our Changemaker Chat with Suzanne Powers. Also a big thank you to IPG Women’s Leadership Network, and the NYC Changemaker Chat Team and Volunteers. Stay tuned for updates about our next Chat


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About Changemaker Chats

Changemaker Chats bring together women working to advance positive change in their organizations and communities around the world, equipping and enabling them with the networks and the know-how to be more effective in their daily lives.

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