Promotional feature
Dentsu Media US

Meet our 2023 Women of Distinction honoree: Cara Lewis, Dentsu Media US

Cara Lewis, chief investment officer, Dentsu Media US
Cara Lewis, chief investment officer, Dentsu Media US

The chief investment officer explains why her mother is her greatest role model and how to deal with burnout.

How does it feel to be honored as a Campaign US Inspiring Woman?

I was shocked to receive this honor, and it makes me feel very appreciated. As a working mom with a husband at home who is taking care of our kids and starting a business, there is a ton of pressure to continue to work hard and do all the “mom” and “wife” things. I love my job and love this industry. Knowing I wake up and do something I love and at the same time get to feel appreciated, inspires me every day. 

Who is one mentor or role model in your life that helped you get to where you are?

As it relates to this honor, hands down my mom, who was actually able to join me on stage during the ceremony. My mom put her career in the fashion industry on hold to raise her three children. For years, she drove us to and from school, various camps, sports, activities with our friends and more. She started selling Tupperware, what we thought was a part time gig/hobby, but she was so successful it became full time. She won multiple awards and landed the highest team sales year after year, yet somehow put our needs first. 

However, in her late 40s, she became a single mother with breast cancer. She had to reinvent her career, her life, build a home and all the while still take care of us. She had to put aside her beloved Tupperware and start over. She didn’t complain and instead put her passion into working again to help people. She inspires me every day knowing she had to make some pretty hard decisions while raising the three of us to live our best life and to lean on her while continually reinventing herself. 

How do you deal with burnout, stress and other issues that typically impact women more acutely than men in the workplace, especially since the pandemic?

Ah, the ultimate question in today’s world. There are days I do not think I am dealing or managing the load that working women (especially moms) take on. Every Sunday, I look at my calendar and try to map out the week; from my workload, the kids, taking care of my team, myself, my mom, family and, of course, making sure my husband is happy, I am not sure how I do it, but I do. To-do lists are being made in my head and in some cases are forgotten, but I have index cards and Post-Its all over the place as I must write everything down to remember all the things I need to get done, out and solved.  

There are a few things I do to try to keep my stress levels low: 

  • I try to start every day fresh as if I am going to the office. I get dressed and put on makeup almost every day.   
  • I work out 4-5 times a week, which keeps me sane, energized and feeling “somewhat” good about myself.
  • I am honest. I bring people in and allow them to see the human in me.  
  • I give my time (probably too much of it). I have learned in life, it's short and could be cut off quickly, and because of that I just enjoy life, give myself to others and allow them to see me for who I am.  Yeah, I’ll sometimes forget something or mess up, but I carry on.  

What's one thing you wish would change about how women are treated in the advertising industry?

In our industry there’s been a craze around propelling and promoting women and diverse talent. This is sometimes undermined by the notion that “we need more diversity in the role or in the room.” But the reality is, that balance should have always existed — not because we “needed it” but because we earned it. We should have been promoting women all along starting with people such as my mom, and many others, who have always shown that women work hard, we are calculated and we should have been awarded the job. We should get the job for our work, not because we are a woman or diverse — that is an added benefit. I would love to see that narrative change.  

Mentoring and empowering women is so important to me and is how we can create the change we want to see. Letting our daughters see us working hard and rising to the top will help inspire that next generation of female leaders.

What's the biggest benefit the industry could achieve by being more inclusive to women?

Women bring a different perspective, and I truly believe by having our voice in the room or at the table, we, as an advertising industry, will benefit. Changing the portrayal of women and men in advertising creative. Changing our mindset on what we can bring and benefit from. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to a young woman looking to rise to the top in the advertising industry?

I have told this to many of my team members over the years. Be your own advocate, be human and try not to hear all the noise. Women are strong and we can do anything we put our minds to. You will need to find your lane, passion and push forward to achieve your goals as no one will do that for you.  Determine what is in your gut, and what you can’t let go of, because most likely that is the right decision to make for YOU and no one else.

What's one thing you do to unplug from work and unwind?

Learning, reading and enjoying life. Listening to music or reading a good fiction book by one of my favorite authors usually draws me away from work and allows me to unwind. Listening to my kids tell funny stories about their day or try to tell me something they learned that is “partially right” also allows me to enjoy those easy, innocent days that make the world better. 

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free