Add Your Heading Text Here

Add Your Heading Text Here

Pooja Manek’s Seven & A Half Lessons From Cannes Lions’ See It Be It Cohort 2024

Pooja Manek, Founding Member and Creative at Talented.Agency, India, opens the door to the See It be It (SIBI) classroom, covering the highlights, shape-shifting sessions, insider experiences and more, in this exclusive for Marketing Mind. She was chosen from 1373 applications from around the world, along with 18 incredible women to be part of this year’s cohort.

| Published on July 1, 2024

Pooja Manek's Seven & A Half Lessons From Cannes Lions’ See It Be It Cohort 2024

I had never been to Cannes. I had never been to France. And I definitely had never been a part of a life-changing programme conducted by the Mecca of creativity. It was a journey of firsts, and I very well know in my heart that it’s not the last. See It Be It is an accelerator for women leaders from around the world. Chaired by the unshakeable Madonna Badger, Founder and CCO of Futura Collective, this on-site programme has an envious list of sessions and speakers in the agenda.

Cannes Lions' See It Be It Cohort 2024
Cannes Lions’ See It Be It Cohort 2024


Lesson One:
Womanhood is universal.

We were 19 women from 14 countries, and yet it took us a total of not more than an hour to be vulnerable in the SIBI classroom on day one. It’s beautiful that sisterhood can blossom no matter where you come from. So when you do something for your agency or for the industry in your country, you’re doing it for countless women across the world who are going through the same problem, and can benefit from the torch you light for them.

Lesson Two:
People are museums. Their professional and their personal selves are on exhibition in rooms next to each other.

Each of the 19 participants had a unique story, with universal struggles. It’s as if there’s a museum within them, with the stories, thoughts and point of views they share. And while the programme was conducted during a professional, global platform, you can’t separate the personal from the professional. You grow through what you go through, and each of these women, along with the women who generously became our mentors, came from a very personal space to empower us professionally.

Lesson Three:
Your gender shouldn’t come in the way of your success. Talk about money.

As women, our conditioning runs so deep, we don’t even dare to talk about money the way men do. Many women are so grateful to be offered a job that they accept what they are offered and don’t negotiate their salaries. 20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary. Women always act as if they have the lower hand.

Laura Florence and Larissa Zucatelli from MORE GRLS, a non-profit community started in Brazil, pushed us to unlearn a ton of things during their session—Own Your Power: Negotiate for Success. With a toolkit to empower women to negotiate effectively, these two made us realise and value our worth in our respective career trajectories. This session made me realise, for women to truly succeed, it’s not enough to aim for financial literacy. We need to aim for financial excellence.

Laura Florence and Larissa Zucatelli from MORE GRLS
Laura Florence and Larissa Zucatelli from MORE GRLS


Lesson Four:
Pass The Torch. Always.

Women uplift women is not just a cute Pinterest quote. I met See It Be It’s founder Senta Slingerland on the terrace where the 2024 SIBI batch along with a bunch of SIBI alumni were networking. I could see and feel the sheer power of SIBI women as a community. She inspired a generation of women in the last ten years with this programme, so much so, there’s SIBI Bulgaria, initiated by Maria Milusheva. We also heard from Marina Cuesta on the profound impact SIBI has left on her and how she is using that to influence change in her own region. Sakshi Choudhary founded Indian Creative Women in India after her SIBI experience, and fosters this community with knowledge and empathy, to empower the next generation of female and non-binary creatives in the country.

Lesson Five:
Bring more of YOUR life to work. Unapologetically.

For decades, advertising hasn’t worked for working moms, with over half of them leaving the industry altogether. But as I entered the Glass Jury room, and heard the little sniggers of Raphaella Martins Antonio’s 16-day old Olivia, I was filled with so much hope. Raphaella was serving as jury, with Olivia in her arms–this was unseen and unheard of before at Cannes; very fittingly a first in the room where work that positively affects ingrained gender inequality, imbalance or injustice gets discussed and awarded.
Amy Kunrojpanya, our SIBI mentor-at-large, travelled with her 4-month old Ayla, and was the most incredible mentor to all of us for all 5 days. It’s women like Amy and Raphaella who remind us that it’s more than okay to bring our life to work, and we should do that unapologetically.

Lesson Six:
To make diversity happen, just make it happen. Don’t just talk about it.

The Glass Jury room has so far been the most diverse jury room I have ever seen. A new mom, a differently-abled juror, a queer father raising two children with his partner, and a juror from the transgender community, and incredible women from different walks of life who have been advocates for underrepresented voices. Cindy Gallop said, “Nothing about us, without us”, and that just straight-up made so much sense. True to this spirit, it was reassuring to know that every credit list for work submitted in this category also becomes an additional parameter to gauge whether the piece of work deserves to win also based on how diverse and well-represented the teams behind the work have been.

Talented's Pooja Manek with MakeLoveNotPorn's Cindy Gallop
Talented’s Pooja Manek with MakeLoveNotPorn’s Cindy Gallop


Lesson Seven:
We’re all casualties of our own limited thinking.

I was lucky to get a 1:1 mentorship session with Atiya Zaidi, CEO and CCO, BBDO Pakistan. She was the first woman from Pakistan to be chosen for the SIBI programme 10 years ago.
Of course, one of my questions to her was–“How did you convince yourself that you can also take the CEO position? How can you be a creative and look at P&L, and be good at both?” Her answer was–“If you forget what the system has made you believe about yourself, you can do anything. I had to forget that as a woman, I am not supposed to be good with running a business, and that as a creative, I am supposed to suck at numbers. Just forget about all of this deep-rooted conditioning. And start afresh.”

Lesson Seven and a Half:
Impacting change takes time. Be Patient. But not complacent.

“Post SIBI, you would have changed but the world would still be the same.”, said a SIBI alum. That rang true for all of this cohort’s women who kept thinking, “What will we do after this ends?” Understandably, we were feeling the anxiety of not knowing what to do after this. But she was quick to say–“You can’t change the world in one day. And you don’t have to. As long as you take these learnings and the power of community with you back to your country and do whatever is in your power to impact change in whatever capacity you can, that still is change.”


Every creative woman/non-binary person reading this, I urge you to apply for it next year. And feel free to reach out to me on Linkedin if you need help. SIBI has been a milestone experience for me, and I want to pass the torch to those after me. So, do yourself a favour, shed that impostor syndrome, and apply.

Interested in getting all the latest news from the world of Marketing, Advertising and Startups? Subscribe to our Scoop by Marketing Mind newsletter so that you don’t miss any updates.

Related Posts