REEL WOMEN: Elephant Managing Director Cara DiNorcia

(REEL WOMEN: Cara DiNorcia)

Cara DiNorcia is Managing Director at Elephant, overseeing the West Coast business. 

She is a dynamic leader with deep experience across client service, program management, production and operations.

Prior to joining Elephant, Cara was at reputable agencies including Huge, BigSpaceship and Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. She has led partnerships and delivered results for a range of clients including Apple, Beats by Dre, Kia Motors, Samsung, Under Armour, American Express and more. 

Above all, Cara has a passion for building rockstar teams. She is committed to developing talent and providing opportunities for them to realize their goals.

Let’s meet Cara!

What’s your origin story?

Born and raised in Bernardsville, New Jersey, I am the youngest of 3.

I went to high school at Villa Walsh Academy where I fell in love with musical theater and wanted to star on Broadway. I spent most of my free time participating in extracurricular activities such as Vocal Ensemble, Mock Trial, and school musicals.

I then went to Fordham University in the Bronx where I double majored in Music and Communications, with a minor in Italian. Starting Fordham’s first all-female a cappella group (before a cappella was considered “cool”), I realized my love for theater was for the music itself and wanted to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter.

How did you get into marketing and advertising?

I fell into it! I drove cross country with my best friend after college and came home realizing that I needed a reliable job to fuel my music career. My aunt told me to reach out to her friend who was starting a new company. That’s when I was introduced to Mary Alice Lawless – the most captivating woman I had ever met. She lit up an entire room with genuine passion and excitement around what she was building, and I just knew I had to work with her.

The following week I started as Solara’s first Account Executive, bought my first suit, and headed to 42nd Street for my first client meeting. From then on I was hooked…the fast-paced, unpredictable agency life was for me. And here I am almost 20 years later, still loving it. 

Who were your mentors?

I’ve been fortunate to have several strong mentors throughout my career, however, there are two incredibly brilliant and inspiring women I still look up to and go to for guidance today. Barbara Pantuso, who taught me to never settle for anything less than my best work and to always follow my gut. And Jill Balderson, who taught me how to lead without fear and believe that I can do anything if I just try. 

While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Moving to Los Angeles to build Elephant’s West Coast business. While it’s been the most challenging point in my career, it’s also been incredibly rewarding.

The Elephant team has some of the most talented and driven people I have ever worked with. 

What drives you to create?

Collaborating with people who have a completely different craft than me. I really love being pushed to think differently and learn new skills from the team. It ultimately creates better work for our clients and we get to have fun doing it!

What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?

  • Ozark – Even in moments of utter fear and uncertainty, nothing shakes Wendy Byrde. Sure, some of her actions are highly questionable, but I admire how fiercely confident she is.
  • Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – I love how determined Miriam Maisel is to live her dream in a male dominated world, no matter how many times she completely messes up or is told no. She’s ruthless in the pursuit of her passion.

Coffee, Lunch or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman you would like to attend each function with.

  • Coffee with Oprah, though we’ve already met! She’s the ultimate business woman – pure professionalism, strength, wisdom and grace.
  • Lunch with Bonnie Raitt. Not only do I think she’s one of the greatest guitar players of all time, she didn’t really make it big in the music world until she was in her 40s. I find that super motivating. 
  • Happy Hour with Sarah Bareilles. She’s just the bee’s knees – an incredible songwriter and musician, witty and fun…I’d like to think we’d be best friends if she wasn’t famous.

What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?

This is really different for all of us. For me, it’s being most often the only female executive in a room. I remind myself I’m there for a reason – it’s OK to have a different perspective or style of approaching things.

REELated: See who else is on the Reel Women List

How has having the superpower helped you?

It’s taught me how to have grit. I try to learn from everything that happens to me – the good, the bad, the horrible – and no matter the outcome, I pick myself up and try again even when I feel defeated.

If being a woman is your superpower, what is your kryptonite?

My pup, Stanley! One look at his adorable face and he can have anything and everything he wants. Also being extremely empathetic. Though I consider it a gift, I catch myself prioritizing other people’s feelings and wants over my own. 

When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time?

In addition to music, I’m a “weekend warrior” as they call it. You will either find me jamming with Tremblin’ Canyon, recording some tunes, or traveling somewhere in the U.S. to attack an obstacle course or trail race. Being active in music and racing keeps me balanced. Without both of them I’m not the strongest version of myself.

Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?

Always such a difficult question for me to answer! Wherever I am in 5 years, I hope I’m inspiring people around me to push beyond their limits and work relentlessly for what they want. That’s when the good stuff happens.

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