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Women Now Hold Half of the Top Jobs at Havas Worldwide Chicago

Tatia Torrey named chief client officer

Tatia Torrey looks to pave the way for other women to lead.

Decades after the Mad Men era, men still largely run ad agencies. But even if agencies can still feel like boys' clubs, recently women have been gaining a number of top jobs.

Between October 2014 and April 2015, six agencies placed women in the role of creative chief. And now, with the rise of Tatia Torrey to chief client officer at Havas Worldwide in Chicago, half of that agency's leadership team is female.

In her newly created position, Torrey will work across the ad agency and subsidiaries Havas Helia (customer relationship management marketing), Havas Impact (events) and Havas Latino (Hispanic market advertising). Since May 2014, she'd been managing director.

The other Chicago leaders are chief creative officer Jason Peterson, chief growth officer Laura Maness, chief talent officer Julieann Vukovich and chief financial officer Angelo Kritikos.

Chicago CEO Paul Marobella said that while he's happy to have three women among his six top guns, Torrey's skills triggered her rise to the top. "For us, it's who's the right person for the job and hire those people," he said.

But Marobella also doesn't understand why more women don't hold top jobs in advertising and why a separate effort to diversify boardrooms in the corporate world has set its goal at just 30 percent. "That's low," he said.

"Having women in the boardroom and in the executive committee has always been important to me as a leader," Marobella said. "My personal philosophy—and this might be a sweeping generalization—is that women generally have better intuition than men. And intuitive nature and instincts to me are a critical part of what it means to have emotional intelligence in the boardroom."

In Torrey's new role, she'll oversee about 75 staffers in account and project management and focus on existing clients, including Citi, Dish, R.J. Reynolds, Cracker Barrel and AutoZone. The total Havas head count in Chicago exceeds 400.

"I've been very fortunate through my career to be evaluated based on my performance and not really felt that [female] lens as much. I do now as I've gotten into more senior leadership positions and actually recognized the opportunities," said Torrey, who previously was an md at the Chicago digital shop Wire Stone. 

Torrey added she has seen first hand "how the door should be open for women and how women should be encouraged and mentored. I definitely want to do whatever I can to pave the way."

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