Omara Hernandez, SVP Group Director @ Canvas.    Creative Team: Photography/Creative Director - Lin Marty Photography, MUA - Julia Alexander, Body Paint Artist - Scott Richards.

Omara Hernandez, SVP Group Director @ Canvas.  

Creative Team: Photography/Creative Director - Lin Marty Photography, MUA - Julia Alexander, Body Paint Artist - Scott Richards.

This week's final highlight for Pose&Focus: Women in Advertising Vol.2 is the one and only Omara Hernandez. As you read through her interview you'll get three things straight...she loves to workout, she is a no bull$h!t type of gal, and she has a BIG heart. Not only did she successfully hit the SVP title by her early 30s, but she currently oversees a team of 30+ running accounts in both the entertainment and auto industries.  When she is not at work, you can catch her running along the beach, playing with her 3 dogs, working out at the gym, or finishing a half marathon somewhere in the US. For those that don't know, Omara was my boss during my time at Canvas, where we pegged ourselves the "ernandez girls," along with our coworker Terra.  I consider her a very close friend and she is the ONLY one that is allowed to call me Juicy Burger, JB for short. So without further ado, please put your hands together for Omara!

For those that are not familiar with the industry, please provide a description of what you do. I manage a team of Digital, Print and Custom content planner and buyers across a variety of client accounts. I also oversee strategic investment partnerships within these media types as well.

How did you first become interested in advertising? What made you want to pursue a career in sales/event planning? My first interest in advertising started when I was young and came through my exposure and interaction with the Nike brand. I always loved their products and their ads have always reflected the “you can do it” spirit. Their image and messaging has always been clear and they inspire millions of people to be their own best athlete…or at least look like one. To this day it’s my favorite brand.

What is one unexpected expectation/duty of your job that most wouldn’t know?  Ticket broker for clients 

What does a typical day look like for you? Does it include any daily rituals? Typical day consists of back to back meetings internally, with media partners and/or with clients. It seems like you only get to sit down and actually do work around 5pm. My two daily rituals as of recently are my morning Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, and I try to take anywhere from 10-30 mins in the afternoon to just step outside and get some air and sun. You can literally spend 10-12 hours a day inside the office and never stepping foot outside if you don’t force yourself.

What are the top pressures in your position? Clients expect you to know everything and have a point of view on everything so there is a constant need to stay two steps ahead of everything. There is also an overwhelming amount of work at some points and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to complete it.

What personal traits do you contribute to your success? And Why?  I think I have good people skills and build relationships well with media partners and clients, which helps with communication and building trust. I also care a lot about my team, professionally and personally which I think they can feel. A manager is only as good as their team so you have to invest time in nurturing them.

Are there any big success stories that stand out the most when looking back at your career journey thus far? I was named one of the “media planners of the year” a few years back which was an a nice recognition. I also think being part of the team that worked on the Hyundai / The Walking Dead partnership was a pretty awesome experience. It was so much fun to brainstorm and execute, and it won us an Effie.

What was your professional highlight within the last year? I worked on the Annapurna Pictures pitch and it was a good feeling when we won it, our first big win as a new agency. 

How did you end up working in Los Angeles? I was working at an agency in NY that had just won a new account in their LA office, so I raised my hand to be part of the new team that they were building out here. I was young and had no commitments in NY, so I figured it would be a good time to try out a new city and good experience to help onboard a new account. I thought I would be here two years but here I am almost 13 years later. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
What was your first gig in the industry and what were the steps you took to get hired? My first gig was an Assistant Planner on American Express at Mindshare. I knew I wanted to do something in advertising, but wasn’t sure what. I learned a bit more about the Media side through a consortium that I attended while still a senior in college and thought my skill set match what they were looking for. I stayed in touch with the HR rep during my first summer out of college and eventually was offered  an interview with the Amex team. It took three interviews but I finally landed the job just before 9/11.

What advice would you give women who are thinking of working in the industry? You have to know that this isn’t a 9 to 5 job. The hours can be extremely long and unforgiving. In the beginning the pay is not that great either so you have to be patient in gaining the experiences that will lead to better  opportunities. Also think about your resume, the brands you work on say a lot about who you are and your experience in the marketplace.

What has changed in the industry from when you first started out?  Is this change good or bad? Digital wasn’t as a big of a component in our plans when I first started out, and digital can be way more complex than other media types. Not only in what you can buy but how you can target and measure. I still sit in meetings and need people to reexplain things to me a few times so I can get it.  

When starting out, any mistakes you learned from that you would like to share? Not everyone is your friend,  especially clients and sales reps. I have overshared my opinions with people I thought I could trust which later bit me in the bum. Build a good rapport but pick your words and thoughts wisely.

In moments of self-doubt, how do you pick up and keep moving forward? A good workout usually helps me. It’s a known stress relief but for me it’s also a way I push myself to do things I didn’t think I could. I was never athletic growing up so only in my late 30s have I embraced what fitness can do for your body and mind. Finishing a long run or an intense cross fit class makes me feel ready to take on more.

With just three adjectives, describe yourself. Fierce, Unapologetic, Playful

What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know? I cry a lot…when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m mad…it’s just this release of emotion I can’t help!

What does the word “success” mean to you? Having a healthy balance of work and personal life, and feeling like you have a purpose in both.

As women we tend to have a lot of roles between home and work. How do you manage a healthy routine between personal and work responsibilities?  Well I guess the good thing is I don’t have a husband or kids that I need to worry about, so on the day to day I’m really only thinking about myself and my dogs. But overall I think for me it’s knowing that some weeks are just going to suck and you know you will be working long hours. So on those weeks I hit the gym in the mornings, I hire my dog walker for extra walks and order food instead of cooking. But then I balance that out so during the slower moments I make sure I get out for lunch, leave work on time, take longer walks with my dogs, make dinner at home, and most importantly take my vacation. 

What are your go to resources for inspiration?  Working out is always my go to; it’s the one thing that doesn’t let me down…I always feel better after.

What is one thing in Los Angeles you have been dying to do/try, but haven’t had the chance to yet? Paddle boarding

Los Angeles Rapid Fire Qs: Top Pick

  • The Grove or Americana? The Grove
  • K-ZO or SugarFish? SugarFish
  • Santa Monica Pier or LA Art District? LA Art District
  • The Hollywood Bowl or Greek Theatre? Greek
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame or Hollywood sign? Hollywood Sign
  • Rodeo Drive or Melrose Ave? Rodeo Drive
  • Shutters or Terranea? Terranea
  • Disneyland or Universal Studios? Disneyland
  • Museum of Ice Cream or Getty Museum? Getty

Thank you for your support in reading this post! As many of you know now, Pose&Focus: Women in Advertising is my personal passion project dedicated to highlights women in the advertising industry through interviews and creative expression.  Having been in the business myself for over a decade, I found it very important for women (and men) to support female leadership in our community & industry. Especially with our current political climate this mission is more important to me than ever before.  I want our female readers to know when they come here they will get solid advice and actionable steps that they can use to elevate their own careers.  To learn more about upcoming posts follow me on Instagram or Linkedin for the latest news.  **ANNOUNCEMENT** Vol.3 Nominations will be open next week!  Details to come!

As my father likes to say, be cool.