A long-time member of the Havas family, Carolina Sabha, COO, Havas Argentina, has recently been recognised in the seventh edition of Adlatina’s “Leading Women Argentina”. Here, Carolina shares what the recognition means to her, what achievements she’s most proud of during her Havas career and what her future goals are.
Adlatina recently named you as one of its “Leading Women Argentina 2021’. How important is it to receive this kind of recognition?
This recognition comes at a very special moment in my life. Seeing myself among these fifteen distinguished women in the industry is a real thrill. When I look back and think about how much effort, commitment, and passion I have invested, I must thank my family for all their support which allowed me to balance my professional and personal life.
“Leave a footprint” is my purpose. Leading with humility, listening, learning, and sharing. If I have managed to transmit these values and pass this passion to the new generations, then I will have accomplished my mission.
You’ve been with Havas since 2005. What achievements are you most proud of?
Havas has given me countless opportunities over the past 16 years. One I’d like to highlight was a personal turning point in 2018. I don’t know if it was because I turned 40, but I experienced personal growth and discovered within me a woman who had the ability to progress professionally and be a mother at the same time.
I decided to aim for more and directly approached our CEO to apply to become Head of Trading & Value, in addition to my position as Head of Investment. 18 months later, the tables turned, and the CEO approached me to become COO! This was a great lesson: we must believe we can change things and fulfil our career ambitions. More and more opportunities are opening up for women in key positions. Opportunities that we are taking.
Among the most recent achievements are three new client wins: Genomma Lab, Toyota, and Banco Macro, which once again guarantees Havas Media’s lead ranking by RECMA alongside the other dominant media groups. In addition, the agency was recognised as the best Media Agency at the 2020 Jerry Goldenberg Awards, and at the first edition of the Mercado Ads Awards, that recognised Havas as the media agency with the greatest capacity to develop and empower clients on e-commerce platforms.
2020 was a very tough year, but we still met our objectives. I’m strongly convinced that when the business plan & strategy are shared, with common goals and roles, the results are much better.
How do you think female leadership affects the ecosystem of an agency?
The term “sisterhood” has been increasingly used in recent years and I think it helps women walk towards equality together.
I believe 100% in complicity between women, where we share our concerns and work together to achieve more equity within organisations.
Women are brave, creative, meticulous, observant and we know how to listen. All these qualities and teamwork are the key to success.
We need to have the right environment to be able to express ourselves and empower one another. That’s why it is so important to promote female talent and provide opportunities for female leaders to flourish in key positions, where we can change the rules of the game.
From my position I motivate female leadership, with greater prominence and a flexible way of working where everyone can optimise their abilities. We also work a lot with HR on equity of benefits and we’ve managed to erase differences year after year. For example, previously if an employee was on maternity leave the variable part of their compensation was reduced. Today that is no longer the case. And we have also introduced longer paternity leave.
What advice would you give to any women thinking of joining our industry?
Throughout my time working in this industry, I have constantly heard the phrase “only men become managers”. And the truth is that this gender stereotype occurs naturally, as if there is no alternative. A male candidate often takes priority.
There is the preconception that when women have children their performance levels drop. I’m a mother but I’m also a working professional in a leadership position. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Women must trust in their talent and ability. We should always strive for more, enable change and ensure there are increasing opportunities for us in key positions.
The past year has undoubtedly been a time of change. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since the start of the pandemic?
Our biggest challenge was to adapt quickly and identify and break down barriers of resistance.
We live in a world that is constantly changing and I believe we learn something new every day. And that’s the key – “learn to learn”. Learn new disciplines, apply new tools, and leave our comfort zones. This will allow us to take new directions with confidence and agility.
Now, more than ever, we need to constantly think about how to innovate: in business and in life.
I strongly believe in agile methodologies and short experiments with specific objectives, involving the participation of team members from different parts of the organisation. Everyone brings something different to the table and this is what makes the difference.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Continue discovering opportunities for development and transformation in my leadership style that ensures Havas Argentina is a place every one of us is proud to be part of.
A leader can’t work 24/7 or be a specialist in every single area of the business. That’s why teams exist and learning to delegate is another essential skill for any leader.
You must be organised, think about how to get the results you need and prevent the team from getting frustrated. We must remember that the “how” is as important as the “what”. How do we do things? How do people feel and how do we motivate them? This is essential so we can continue developing and improving our work processes.
In addition, our diversity and inclusion committee will continue to work on different initiatives that impact what we do and how we connect with the community in a meaningful way.