Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2021 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, they are making “Herstory.”
Janet Wang has spent the last 17+ years shaping award-winning integrated marketing initiatives for gaming and entertainment brands including the California Lottery, Activision and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
She’s a pragmatic optimist and thrives on using her keen instincts to successfully solve puzzles big and small, from the most complex organizational challenges to unexpected plot twists in movies.
Janet’s voracious appetite for excellence fuels her in her dual roles of Account Director and (unofficial) Chief Food Enthusiast at David&Goliath.
What’s your origin story?
My family and I immigrated to the U.S. from Korea when I was about 4 years old with a whole lot of optimism and strong work ethic but not much else. Navigating the California dream through that experience taught me early on that you’re responsible for your future, and success takes an incredible amount of perseverance and sacrifice.
It also instilled in me the importance of gratefulness and not dwelling in self-pity because no matter how tough a situation may be, it can always be worse.
How did you get into advertising?
I’ve always been drawn to the magic of advertising. All throughout college at UCSD, I interned at local marketing agencies and served as the president of the campus Ad Club.
After a fun 3-year detour into public relations, I worked at JWT and DDB LA before landing at my current home of 10+ years, David&Goliath.
Give a shout out to your mentors.
So many amazing mentors that have defined and redefined what strength looks like in this industry and beyond. Kristine Keever, one of my first Account Directors in advertising and forever someone I admire in work and life.
Her energy, compassion, intelligence, conviction and unapologetic sass were such an inspiration and really stood out in a category (video gaming) that not as many women, let alone working moms, were making waves in at the time. She also made an amazing Caesar salad, from scratch—something that I didn’t even know was a thing back then.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Working full time without child care for the first 6 months of the pandemic. But really, balancing motherhood and career (still a work-in-progress) has truly been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life to date.
Nothing shows commitment and passion for what you do more than taking conference calls from a nursing room or being able to shush a screaming kid and present work without skipping a beat. That said, it also wouldn’t be at all possible without the constant support of my incredible work family and agency leadership.
How about your biggest disappointment?
When I was a girl, the picture of success to me was becoming the CEO of a company and wearing a nice shoulder-padded suit to work with a cell phone in hand (this was the 80s after all).
The corporate world was so glamorous and far removed from what I was used to helping out at my parents’ restaurant. By wardrobe standards alone, I’ve failed miserably.
BUT, I also know today that success not only looks and feels differently for every one of us but that the vision of success I used to aspire to wouldn’t be fulfilling. Now, it’s all about building meaningful relationships and choosing to focus energy on work that sparks joy.
If being a woman is your superpower, how has it helped you?
To me, being a strong woman is particularly meaningful and powerful because that strength is almost always hard fought and earned. It’s achieved through grit, resilience, persistence and overcoming.
Those are the qualities that have given me the confidence to speak up and approach every challenging situation head on.
What’s your Kryptonite?
Unnecessary politics and refined sugar! Unavoidable at times but wouldn’t we all be so much more productive and better off without them?
How did a combination of pandemic, Black Lives Matter and QAnon affect you?
As divisive and raw as this year has been on so many levels, it’s only made me crave more connection and want to find the common ground that connects us on a human level.
It’s also shown how much we often take positivity for granted – it’s something you have to actively seek out and be determined to find, especially now.
What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion?
This may seem like an oversimplification, but true inclusion to me means treating everyone the same way that you would somebody that you genuinely value and respect, no matter what ethnicity, gender, etc.
Applying that filter to everything from how you talk about someone to how you support them or compensate them is what’s going to push this industry beyond just checking boxes.
If you’re Batwoman, who’s Robin?
My dog Archie who started out as a foster pup and some very wise people at the agency talked me into keeping, He got to spend a lot of time at the office fighting crime and defusing bombs so I’d definitely consider us a dynamic duo.
What’s the engine that pulls you?
As a first-generation immigrant, you tend to carry a certain burden and responsibility knowing that your parents uprooted their lives and worked their tails off only to give you opportunities in life that they didn’t have. That’s a big ball to drop.
Now, since becoming a mom, I’m motivated by a desire to contribute to an industry and community that I’d be proud to have my daughter grow up in. An equally big ball to lift up.
Climb into a time machine and tell your 15-year-old self something.
All negativity comes from a place of fear and insecurity so don’t take it personally. Also, there are some things that are going to be out of your control and that’s actually totally ok. How you respond in those situations is what’s most important.