Next Creative Leaders 2018: Lama Bawadi

on Nov 06, 2018

Hometown and country:

Beirut, Lebanon


Current employer, city and role:

Leo Burnett Beirut, Senior Copywriter


How did your upbringing, family or hometown shape you as a creative?

I grew up in a small town in Mount Lebanon, facing the magical Barouk Cedar Forest, with trees up to 2000 years old. When you’re surrounded by nature, it feeds you with gratitude and peace of mind, it teaches you to be humble, to be a good observer, it inspires you and triggers your imagination, it allows you to run freely… no boundaries, no limits. I owe this place a lot, because I truly feel that it shaped my personality and the way I think and act.


What’s your “breaking into advertising” story?

After graduation, I worked as a translator in a consultancy firm. After the first month, I knew it wasn’t for me. I wanted to write! At the time, a friend was interning at Leo Burnett and she told me they’d been searching for a copywriter with no luck, and that I should apply. So I did. That was the best shift in my life, because not only did I get to do what I love to do, but I can also drive change in my society. What a perfect combination!


What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?

KAFA’s Legally Bride is one of the dearest campaigns to my heart. We wanted to create awareness around the existence of child marriage in Lebanon and give the NGO pressuring tools to use against the relevant authorities to make a change, and prohibit child marriage. I was enraged to live in a country where such laws exist and took this campaign very personally. The campaign got over 100 million organic views across different accounts & platforms. Over 100 publications & TV channels covered the story, the UN adopted our campaign to be its own anti-child marriage (#Idont campaign) and a famous prankster was inspired by our campaign replicating our social experiment in Times Square, NYC.


What does meaning this award mean to you?

Next Creative Leaders busts “the myth of scarcity” that women have been trained to believe in. It shows us that there is abundance of us out there; that we just have to work smartly and passionately, and most importantly, support each other. Next Creative Leaders is helping eradicate the mythology that women can’t or aren’t each other’s best supporters.


Who has most influenced you in your career thus far?

I have met so many inspiring women throughout my career, but having the opportunity to meet Chloe Gottlieb has been the biggest highlight of my journey. She’s a true enlightened leader who taught me to work smart, not hard, to be resilient, to set my priorities, to practice gratitude, to know my inner worth and use it to lead from within.


What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing women right now (work or non work related) and how would you solve it?

Because of gender inequality and the intentional lack of opportunities offered to women throughout history, we’ve been trained to believe that there’s only one seat at the table, and in order to get it, we need to compete. This mythology is one of the most dangerous limitations, and we need to get rid of it fast. The more we support each other, the stronger we will be and the bigger our opportunities will be.

This year, I took a pledge to be an agent of change through my creative work, but also to help other women by sharing the learnings. I did a workshop at my agency and I’m planning to do more.


If you were CCO of your company, what would be the one thing you’d change (if you could just wave your magic wand?)

I would empower young women in my company by creating a regular training program to teach them skills like being more vocal, time mastery and making time for things that feed their soul, enlightened leadership, resilience in the workplace, emotional intelligence, negotiating for power. Because Now that I’m learning these principles and trying to apply them, I feel that I wish that someone had told about them way before.


The theme of this year’s 3% Conference is “Bring it.” What do you think you bring to the table as a creative and a leader?

What I bring to the table is the “Yes and” attitude. I don’t believe in “No but” and I think that any idea no matter how stupid it might look, has the potential to spark the smartest ideas.


What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

I’ve learned to know my self-worth, because only then will I get what I deserve. If you don’t believe in yourself and appreciate your own talent, no one’s going to notice it.


What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career so far and how did it pan out?

Life isn’t linear, why should careers be? Taking risks might be scary but it’s definitely worth it. When I shifted from translation to advertising, I was leaving a profession I was great at, and going into to a profession that I knew nothing about. But I’m so grateful for that shift. I had so many things inside me that needed to come out, and being a creative offered me this opportunity to express myself and make change in society.


How do you “fill up your cup” creatively?

I read, I walk by the river in my hometown, I travel when I can afford it, and I eat ice cream.


What’s currently inspiring you?

My fiancé and I started a furniture design brand and I’m always thinking of ways to improve our line: imagining the design of a hanger, or chair, looking for inspiration. It’s always good to train your creativity through outside work—it’s helping me a lot.


What would be your dream project and why?

My dream project is to create a blog that interviews and highlights the stories of inspiring women, shedding light on their success stories and achievements. of women, give them the space and attention they deserve, and most importantly learn from their journeys.


How are you leaving the work, the workplace or the world a better place than you found it?

By looking at my job as an opportunity to work on campaigns that drive positive change in society. If each and every one of us works on being more open to diversity and a more compassionate person, the world will be a better place.


What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to women embarking on a creative career?

Observe, care, create.

Click here to view her award winning work 


Nedal Ahmed

Lama Bawadi

Maddy Kramer

Julie Matheny

Mietta McFarlane

Krystle Mullin

Evelina Ronnung

Jessica Shriftman

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