Next Creative Leaders

Next Creative Leaders is a portfolio competition that identifies, celebrates, and gives a global platform to talented, gender expansive creatives who are making their mark on the world with both their work and a unique point of view on creative leadership.

2017 Next Creative Leaders - NCL Profile

Sakshi Choudhary

Agency Sakshi Choudhary

Client NCL 2017


NCL 2017

Annual ID


Next Creative Leaders 2017 - Winner Profile

Sakshi Choudhary

Sakshi Choudhary


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My decision to quit a lucrative corporate job to go to advertising school, was based on one huge vacuum. The answer to the question, am I really making a difference with what I'm doing. Advertising for me, came with the ammunition to make that change.

And so, I embarked on my advertising journey a little less than five years ago. In those five years, I have seen my confidence levels touch my ankles and touch the skies. When I look back, its always been the same me. So what made the difference between me feeling like I'm not good enough for this business one year, and feeling like I can make a genuine difference thanks to this business, the next? Leadership.

From learning the ropes as a junior copywriter to managing a team, I've always been conscious of doing two things right. One, inspiring those around me to reach their true potential. Two, improving the ratio of women in creative roles, senior or otherwise, in an Indian advertising industry that's woefully bereft of female leadership.

Having realised early on, that one needs to be the change they'd want to see, I pushed, really hard, to make a few things happen. While I've been rather successful with some, some are still WIP. Here they are, in no particular order of preference...

1. Bust the myth that women can't work on 'male' brands.
And males can't crack 'softer, smoother, glowing skin'. And I did that by actively seeking to work on everything from engine oils and chocolates to car insurance and shampoo.

2. Hire on potential and not just merit.
Being the only woman in brainstorm sessions and presentations, I've often realised I'm selling not just my ideas but also a perspective that doesn't come as naturally, to a man. As a result, the percentage of ideas that get approved, executed and win metal are much fewer than a guy who totally 'gets' another guy. It's been tough, but I've managed to get seniors within the agency to go beyond the metals column and probe for work from women that didn't make the cut.

Applying this theory to the hires I've made has been a hugely rewarding experience and because it's so evident, leads from other teams have also, slowly, begun following suit.

3. Pro-bono efforts supporting gender equality
When an old college-mate became country-head of a global youth platform that highlighted gender based issues, I did cart-wheels of joy for her. And pro-actively extracted a brief that led to a campaign that got Bollywood - the world's largest film industry, to take a stand against using lewd lyrics in its movies. The groundswell it created ultimately led to the Censor Board of India changing its stance on what's fine and what's not when it came to the depiction of women in movies (video case attached). The campaign was awarded at numerous creative and effectiveness shows and also won me my first Cannes Lion :)

Ever since, the agency has been consciously seeking out opportunities to work in the space of gender equality and diversity.

4. Founding the Seesaw Project
India is a country where gender equality means different things to different people. And feminism is a very misunderstood word. It is also a country that speaks more than 122 languages. How does one get the word out to the nation at large, in a way that's universally understood?

That was the inspiration behind me founding The Seesaw Project - an effort that simplifies the complex interpretations of gender bias with a simple universal language - Art. The project, which is a labour of love beyond the hours I spend in office, has so far depicted casual sexism and patriarchal gender-based societal expectations, and has been covered by print, digital and electronic media. I am currently in the midst of finalising the shoot for the project's third series based on marital rape.

5. Making it to Cannes Lions See It, Be It
Being picked as one of only 15 women from around the world for the Cannes Lions See It, Be It programme will always be one of my most rewarding and humbling experiences. From the surprise and elation of making it through to interacting with the other girls, our fabulous mentors and some of the most celebrated professionals in our industry instilled in me a sense of self-worth I've never felt.

More importantly, it offered me the credibility and the platform to discuss a subject I'm enormously passionate about. I have used this opportunity to further the cause of female creative leadership within the agency and the Indian advertising fraternity.

6. Powering change at Ogilvy India
Charged by my learning at the See It, Be It programme I have chosen to spearhead the cause of gender equality at Ogilvy India. Having made a presentation to select members of the Ogilvy India Board, I am currently part of a team that aims at mentoring potential female leaders and sensitising the agency to unconscious gender bias within the workplace.

Baby steps have also been initiated towards the creation of a forum on the lines of the 3% Conference that the Indian advertising fraternity so badly needs.

7. Nurturing and celebrating young female talent
Our industry is giving young professionals the opportunity to showcase their talent and potential more than ever before. Which is why I have made it my responsibility to ensure members from my team are making the most of every chance that comes their way.

As a result, two female members from my team have made it to a list of 'India's 30 most promising advertising and marketing professionals under 30', one has been profiled as a 'Rising Star' by a popular online advertising publication and one is representing India as part of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations' Fast Track Programme, as we speak :)

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