EVP, Institute of Communication Agencies
“Working towards Achieving Great Work”
Leah Power, EVP, Institute of Communication Agencies, comes from the rational world of finance and operations, but where she truly shines is when she can flex her creative problem-solving muscle on behalf of her member agencies. “I’m not the sole design and creative force at the ICA but I do enjoy the creative process,” she says. “I have been described as a unicorn because I am a stalwart supporter of the art directors, copywriters and designers in our industry. I love and admire that community and I’ve carried this passion with me to the ICA where I still hold the creative product up on a pedestal.”
Leah is a steadfast leader and who has overcome her share of roadblocks in reaching the top. Being raised by an entrepreneurial father and living with three brothers, she learned in childhood how to compete in a male-dominated environment. The biggest barrier she faced, however, came from being a single mother, raising her daughter alone while growing her career in advertising. “Balancing work and home was like walking a tight rope. There was a time where I would pick my daughter up from daycare, pick up food and drive back to work. She’d do her homework at my desk and then watch movies on the board room TV,” remembers Leah. “It was a challenging time but I found that being transparent, being an open communicator, went a long way when convincing my boss why I needed a more flexible schedule or why a work trip wouldn’t be possible. I never shied away from those conversations, but I never left the conversation without offering up a creative solution either.”
Today she is a highly effective leader on behalf of the advertising and marketing industry in Canada because she is able to use her experience in finance and operations to create initiatives that will drive long-term and far-reaching changes for the creative community she knows so well . Being able to affect the entire industry, both clients and agencies is an enormous opportunity for growth. Leah hopes that other people who may feel they are in seemingly “less than creative” roles get out there and assert themselves in the conversation because their perspective is needed to drive the industry forward. “One initiative I’m particularly proud of is Qualification-Based Selection Agency Search (QBS). It’s an innovative and creative way to find the most qualified agency for a client, as opposed to the very broken pitch process currently used by many clients and consultants that is an abuse of the agency sector and a poor way to find the right creative partner,” shares Leah. “I have also been very fortunate to have created many of the ICA’s programs under the IDEA initiative focsed on building Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Advertising and helped figure out what the ICA’s “pivot” would be during the pandemic to setp up and support the sector.” She adds, “The moral here is that it doesn’t matter which department you come from, if you’re a business lover, a lover of the industry, and of the people in it, you have a voice, you have a perspective, you can make a difference for the better.”
Leah has had some very positive managerial experiences and learned numerous leadership lessons. “I think of myself as a leader, not a woman leader, but I do think women are sometimes held to a different standard, where men in the same position are given a pass. Being a leader means making tough decisions that you believe are the right decisions. Not everything is by consensus and women should not be penalized for being tough when the situation calls for it,” explains Leah.
The ICA was founded in 1905 by four agency leaders that believed they were stronger together. They created the ICA as a community to support and represent agencies across Canada. “I believe strongly in the ICA’s mission to amplify, protect and transform. A strong industry community is our objective and so Protect is of prime importance to me and the initiatives we support and shepherd through to completion have real value,” says Leah. “A sister initiative to QBS is our Pitch Watch service. It’s a traffic light system that aims to provide clients with feedback on behalf of the industry without putting individual agencies on the spot about how a new business pitch can best deliver the results and callout pitches that are unfair to the agencies. Ultimately “good or bad pitch” practices affect the client in a very profound way. We want agencies and clients to achieve a mutually beneficial partnership that is effective and produces great work that works to drive marketing and business results.” IEWL
EVP, Institute of Communication Agencies
The Institute of Communication Agencies is the not-for-profit association for Canadian advertising, marketing, media and public relations agencies. Our mission is to Amplify, Protect and Transform the agency sector through advocacy, awards, community, consultancy, insight, networking, research and training. Our membership and board of directors represent some of the most recognized and influential businesses in our industry, both in Canada and internationally.