‘We are better than that’: Exceptional Women of the World featuring Nancy Hill, 4A’s

Nancy Hill, 4A's president and CEO, at 4A's Transformation in Los Angeles

As Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A’s can attest, nine and a half years as leader of the organization - in the trenches through years of change, disruption, ups and downs - yields some important wisdom and perspective. Her profile is high and contributions during her tenure are many, but the 35-year veteran of the industry had a profound moment early on that set her foundation.

Being told that she was “too ethical and honest” to be successful in the industry, Hill made it a point, and has spent her career, proving that those words are not only hollow, but untrue — fuel for the fire.

Like a good number of those in advertising, her path was not linear. But Hill’s “North Star” has always been creativity. Opportunities presented themselves and took her on a career walkabout that landed her within the halls of the 4A’s as CEO in 2008.

Baltimore, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York have been ports of call — but Hill, raised in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, has deep appreciation for what the world can offer. Very well-traveled, she speaks several languages and has engaged with many cultures, which is one of the many reasons she appreciates and can empathize with the opportunities that diversity presents in the industry, an issue she has championed for decades.

A proponent of getting out of one’s comfort zone, Hill’s fearlessness, a trait that is often cited by others, is something that she forced herself into in the early days of her career and has served her well. Intuitive by nature, she has shown grace, kindness and generosity to the industry, even in the face of great challenges.

As she leaves her role as 4A’s leader, there is no question that Hill will continue to imbue the agency and brand worlds with wisdom that has been built from a foundation of honesty and hope that the industry, even as it calls out bad behavior and perception, is willing and able to celebrate itself just as much.

“We are better than that,” is the rally cry she spoke that opened the 4A’s Transformation in Los Angeles. And it is a worthy way forward.

Podcast recorded at 4A's Transformation in Los Angeles.

Exceptional Women of the World is a podcast that highlights and celebrates the great achievements, lives and POV of amazing women throughout the world of advertising, marketing, digital, tech and creativity. Started as Exceptional Women Out West, you can listen to previous episodes here. If you would like to nominate exceptional women to be part of the show, please complete this form: http://bit.ly/EWOWPitch.

Doug Zanger

Doug Zanger is the Americas editor for The Drum. He leads the Americas editorial team’s content activity in the growing region. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is committed to sharing the most meaningful stories that benefit the global industry and its people. A Minnesota native, Zanger has covered a wide range of brands, issues and personalities, including Aloe Blacc, Seu Jorge, Wendy Clark, Susan Credle, Dan Wieden, Jeff Goodby and more. Fiercely dedicated to diversity, equality and talent, he has interviewed several women in leadership roles through his Exceptional Women of the World podcast.

All by Doug