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Meet our Female Frontier honorees: Lynn Lewis

Meet our Female Frontier honorees: Lynn Lewis

UM’s U.S. CEO Lynn Lewis discusses the role of culture at an organization and the importance of embracing opportunities for mentorship and partnership

How did you feel when you saw your name on Campaign’s Female Frontier list?  

Humbled, proud, excited! I know how competitive the awards in our industry are — especially ones such as Female Frontiers, considering the powerhouse women in the agency world. To me, any industry recognition is really a reflection of the incredible culture that I am so lucky to be a part of at UM.  Our people inspire me every day to lead our business and our culture with heart. They also inspire me to keep striving for better.   

Sum up your journey to where you are now in fewer than five words?  

Travel partners make the difference! 

What advice would you give young women entering the industry? Any tips for success you'd like to share?  

A dear friend and mentor once said to me: “Success is not about juggling multiple balls on your own, but rather about playing catch.” It’s so true. You can’t do it all by yourself, so embrace opportunities for mentorship, partnership and collaboration — it will make you stronger.   

How does the culture at your organization help you thrive?  

The culture at UM is everything to me. I lovingly call it our “culture of care.” Some of our core values are commitment, caring and community — and never have they been more true or essential than in the last year we had. I’ve seen some incredible ways our people reached out to help each other. And I love to see how connected they are to one another. One of my favorite things about our culture is the openness and candor. Throughout all the challenges of the last year, I heard directly from people from across the community, irrespective of role or level, about the issues they — or issues a colleague — were facing, and how we could better help and support them. That kind of candor and trust in community is what it’s all about.  

Worst thing about the crazy last year? Any silver linings?  

Watching so many people struggle with very personal, very painful hardships was definitely the worst thing about last year. I consider myself and my family very lucky to be safe and healthy. I have always been a silver linings person by nature, so on a personal level my silver lining would be the time I’ve been able to spend with my husband and my kids during a very poignant part of their childhood. I also saw such incredible levels of empathy within the UM community in the last year. Our people really leaned into our core values to help and support each other through a year that took a toll on all of us, both personally and professionally. I truly am part of the best community in the business. 

Purpose in business: A flash in the pan or the fundamental basis for the future?  

Without a doubt, fundamental for the future. Last year, the nationwide reckoning over race prompted brands to take a stand on social issues to better balance profit with purpose, and that’s not going anywhere. Striking that balance is core to the Futureproof agency model we have at UM. But the research says it all: purpose-driven companies outperform their competitors; employees are more motivated when they work for companies that give back and support causes they care about; and consumers care more than ever about where brands stand on social issues. 

If we took your team out for a drink, how would they describe you?  

Just being able to go out for team drinks sounds pretty incredible at this moment in time! 

Describe one piece of work you produced in the past 12 months that excites you?  

I’m so proud of the documentary UM Studios created for our client, USPS, called Dear Santa. It’s an incredibly heartwarming film about the hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa that arrive at post offices every year, and the Postal Service’s Operation Santa program that makes it possible for the public to adopt the letters and make all those Christmas wishes come true. The San Francisco Chronicle said it perfectly when it called Dear Santa the film we all needed in 2020! 

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