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Opinion and Insight
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The Meaning of Brilliance

FCB EMEA, 6 months, 3 weeks ago

FCB Inferno's Becky McOwen-Banks on what makes simply brilliant women leaders

The Meaning of Brilliance

International Women’s Day marks many things including the announcement of The IPA and the Women of Tomorrow Awards. I was lucky enough to be asked to judge on the awards this year and my, what a humbling experience that was. The entries and interviewing the shortlist led to a discussion around the judges' table that I wanted to share.

It’s tough when faced with so many amazing women and we needed to hone the criteria. 

Being brilliant simply wasn’t enough. The question I pursued was ‘Are they brilliant at what they do or are they being simply brilliant?’

What did I mean? Well, we saw fabulous women who were acing their every step, racing up the career ladder, screaming well ahead of the curve and collecting gongs, accolades and promotions to prove it. All amazing people, doing far better in their chosen path than many of us could hope for.

However. Was this enough?

This is the Women of Tomorrow awards after all -  surely our winners should be more than blazing the trail, they should be shining the light so others can follow. 

This became my judging guidance for those that I interviewed. To stand out in this amazing crowd you not only have to be brilliant at doing your job, you have to be enabling others, opening doors, creating pathways to start changing the stats — being simply brilliant.

It is no longer allowed to get to the top of what you do. We need you to be recognising those below you and enabling them to make the next rung up. That may be through being visible  -  speaking, publishing, commenting, judging; through sharing knowledge  -  mentoring, tutoring; or changing how things are done  -  with female initiatives or support groups.

It has to be about doing something. We are no longer the fierce eighties women smashing glass ceilings (although believe me they are still there) and kicking ladders away. We are a next breed of women leaders who believe that getting to the top means you need to make space for more, who understand that to truly #changethestats we simply need more women in the numbers , and soon.

So here’s to brilliance in all of its definitions. Here’s to exceptional talent and the greatness it brings, but more than that, here’s to the intense brightness lighting the way for others to see, aspire and follow.

As for the winner of Women of Tomorrow awards — I still can’t tell you who she is, but I can tell you she is simply brilliant.


Becky McOwen-Banks, Creative Director, FCB Inferno

Genre: People