Words of Wisdom: Delphine Fabre-Hernoux, Wavemaker

Oct 27, 2021

Welcome to Pass the Mic’s series: Words of Wisdom, a unique opportunity to hear from the industry’s leading women on their personal inspirations and discover their advice on advancing as a woman in the audio and advertising field.

Delphine Fabre-Hernoux, Chief Data & Analytics Officer, North America at Wavemaker, joins us to pass along what she’s learned from her 20 years of experience spearheading products, technologies, and data strategies in digital advertising. Delphine, a French native, began her career in client services and operations, a skillset she still utilizes today as she ​​helps clients navigate complex data and technology ecosystems. 

Read about the woman whose influence inspires Delphine to overcome workplace gender norms, the importance of balancing EQ and IQ as a leader, and more Words of Wisdom.

What’s the best advice you were ever given: professional or otherwise?’

The best personal advice I received came from my father: "there's nothing that a smile will not get you." Perhaps it’s not entirely true but, at the end of the day, paying forward a little bit of kindness never hurts. Kindness is key both in your personal and professional life and I have followed my father’s words of advice since childhood. I try to be kind and supportive of those around me - my friends, my team, and my peers.

I received another important piece of advice from my first boss who said, “never stop learning.” I am naturally curious, but this is a principle that has really guided my career. Learning something new every day is one of the things I enjoy the most in my job. And I think I’d get bored quickly if there was nothing left to learn in my job.

What does being a leader for other women mean to you?

I want to show other women that they can remain authentic and still be a leader. I have seen women who tried to change their character or their behavior to be perceived as a leader by mimicking what stereotypical male leaders do. I believe we can only succeed if diversity becomes a reality, not a checkbox, by demonstrating that we can be successful leaders without having to change who we are. Driving change and improving diversity means that we must stay authentic and get others to embrace our differences. That's the example I want to set for my team. I don’t want to take myself too seriously. I want to remain accessible and show empathy as leaders have a responsibility to help nurture the next generation of female leaders to make their path easier than those before them.

How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you?

I'm lucky to be surrounded by very smart women. Wavemaker’s marketing intelligence and science leadership team skews female because these were the most skilled leaders that brought the right balance of EQ & IQ required to manage a team and deliver against client’s expectations.  I've been fortunate to have women leaders in my career to support me and advocate for me. Today, I pay it forward for women in my personal and professional life because I know that it helped me to grow and to become who I am as a leader and a person. As a result, women on my team are confident that they will receive equal chances, equal opportunities, and equal exposure. 

Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who inspired you the most in your career?

I have never truly had one mentor, but I do have a strong network of senior advisors to guide me as I make important decisions. Over time, some of my mentor relationships have equalized as I grew in my own career, and some of my advisors will also call me for my advice. It's our different perspectives and backgrounds that make us valuable to each other. Our mutual respect keeps us honest with each other even when we have difficult conversations. I hope that these people will recognize themselves when they read this because I will be forever grateful for their trust, their guidance, and their generosity. They have helped me to grow, to learn from my mistakes and to think differently.

On a side note, as a woman, I've also been very inspired by Christine Lagarde, former youngest partner in a large law firm who then became French Trade Minister and went on to lead the IMF and now the European Central Bank. I watched a video of her explaining the obstacles she had to overcome as a woman in a very masculine environment, and she is an inspiring role model for women.

What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?

I am kind of old fashioned and I prefer books, even hardcover books, to podcasts and audiobooks. I find it easier to focus on reading rather than listening to a podcast or an audiobook. Perhaps this is because I am very active and tend to multitask. Given English is not my first language, listening to a podcast/audiobook would require me to do one thing at a time and it’s impossible. One book that I've really enjoyed recently is "Thinking fast and slow" by Daniel Kahneman. It helped me understand how we make decisions, with our instinct or with our logic, and how to recognize my biases and my emotions as I make important choices. As a data person, it's truly fascinating (and scary) to see how much we still trust our instincts to make fast decisions.

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