REEL WOMEN: Public Label GM/SVP Anne Dean

(REEL WOMEN: Anne Dean)

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.”

Anne Dean is GM/SVP Marketing Solutions at Public Label, a North American creative marketing agency. Based in the Toronto office, Anne works across Public Label’s roster of brands including Mars, Canadian Blood Services, Scotts Miracle Gro, Agropur and Church & Dwight, among others.

She is a client-focused leader who translates broad strategies into clear business objectives and action plans that drive brand growth in both regional and global marketplaces.

Prior to joining Public Label, Anne spent 20 years at global brand development, activation and deployment company SGK where she held a variety of leadership roles, most recently as VP, Brand Deployment, America’s Region.

At SGK Dean was also a Founding Co-Chair of Matthew’s Women in Leadership, where she created a network to support the attraction, engagement and development of women in leadership positions to raise awareness and support diversity in the workplace.

A true believer in the power of the right talent team, Anne is focused on nurturing and developing a culture that is built on trust, collaboration, diverse thinking and creative curiosity.

What’s your origin story?

I am Canadian and grew up in a suburb of Toronto. My father was a CEO from the time I can remember. My mother chose to be a stay-at-home mom as she wanted to dedicate time to supporting my father, younger sister and me. I grew up loving art and design…but could never draw.

I was always my father’s designated “son” who went on camping trips, to hockey games and was going to be the next CEO in the family. My dad strongly encouraged me to study business in post-secondary school, however I never lost my love of the arts or desire to express my creative side.  

How did you get into advertising and marketing?

In a Tim Horton’s through a mutual family friend – the power of networking! I met with the Managing Director of a local graphic design firm and she hired me as her account coordinator. Six months later the company was purchased and that Managing Director eventually became the Global Agency Lead.

I was lucky to work closely with her over an eight-year period, and under her guidance and sponsorship, I successfully grew into the role of Managing Director across multiple North American offices.   

Who were your mentors?

I have been lucky to work with some incredible leaders. I am inspired by those who balance empathy for the people they work with and the performance expectations of the business. That to me, defines true success in our industry.

My first mentor was my father, who used to practice his holiday party speech on me. He always wanted to know if he truly connected his words to the people he was speaking to. Since then, I have always looked up to individuals that value the contribution of others.

Leaders who understand that great ideas come from the collection of people’s thoughts and input. Leaders who understand the value of, and focus on, nurturing talent.

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

I would like to talk about a recent achievement I am extremely proud of, and excited by. I joined Public Label (formerly Match Marketing Group) a year ago, just as the first lockdowns took effect in North America. Most of the people I work with, I have never met, other than through a video screen from my sunroom.

In the last nine months, our leadership team was able to rally around a fundamental opportunity and idea, articulate it in a Brand philosophy and approach, engage our employees in developing the visual and verbal expression of the Brand, and ultimately launch Public Label to the market.

For a group of individuals to find a groove, generate excitement, rally around a common purpose, and bring a new and exciting agency to the market – all while working from our dining rooms, home-schooling our kids, trying to fit in our steps everyday – was amazing! 

I am so proud of what our team has created, and am excited by the true relevancy of our message at Public Label.

How about your biggest disappointment?

Like many advertising professionals might admit, our work can flow so seamlessly into personal time that it’s difficult to separate the two at times. Especially given the constraints brought on by Covid, I’m reminded now more than ever to slow down and appreciate the client wins, the internal successes, and the personal accomplishments.

If being a woman is your superpower, how has it helped you?

I’m not sure if it’s about being a woman or just who I am, but I have a desire to understand people, what drives them, what motivates them, what makes them tick.

Very early on in my career I learned that “there is no ‘I’ in team.” And as I grew into leadership roles, I quickly learned that success is based on how I can best support, motivate and inspire a group of people to rally around an idea, goal or great solution.   

What’s your Kryptonite?

Setting high expectations for myself and those around me. I get really excited by new ideas and new ways of thinking and doing things. And then I want to see action and results quickly. 

How did a combination of pandemic, Black Lives Matter and QAnon affect you?

One of the things that this past year taught me is how quickly a movement – whether good or bad – can reach a wide audience and define, or redefine, our culture. In reflecting on the many nuances of last year’s ups and downs, what connects us all is our natural human reaction to make sense of all the noise.

I think professionally as marketers we engage in this same process and only through empathy and understanding are we able to craft meaningful messages in our work that will resonate with audiences.

ALSO READ: See who else is on the 2021 Reel Women List

What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion? 

On the positive side, I believe there are some fundamentals at play in advertising that naturally promote inclusion. Our industry’s best kept secret is that a good idea can come from anywhere, no matter seniority, race, gender or any other so called defining factor.

That said, we need to make sure the right strategies are in place that not only give diverse voices a seat at the table, but cultivate a safe environment for them to be heard. DE&I initiatives only become effective when people truly have a voice and can make an impact.

If you’re Batwoman, who’s Robin?

My daughter – she is nine and yes, she is my sidekick and my better half. Even at nine years old she knows just what to say to talk me out of the tree some days. 🙂 

What’s the engine that pulls you?

Growing a client’s business when you get them to try something new or think about something differently, seeing the team’s excitement when we sell a client on a new approach or a new way of thinking…. and on a daily basis… coffee.

Climb in a time machine and tell 15-year-old you something

Take the time to smell the roses and enjoy all aspects of life. I was very lucky to have the opportunity to take a year off before I joined Public Label. My daughter referred to it as my “maternity leave” (which I never officially took when she was born).

It was such a wonderful period to reconnect with myself as a mom and myself as a professional. I took the time to practice yoga, to reconnect with my network, to take a ski trip with my 78-year-old father in the mountains, to have coffee with a girlfriend at 10am on a Tuesday, to enjoy a one hour afternoon phone call with my mom.

I would tell my 15-year-old self that you have to build in time for yourself.  And that you can only bring your best, when you are at your best!

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