Samara Tu

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Assistant Account Executive
Ogilvy Washington
Posts: 1

Samara Tu is an Assistant Account Executive in the Social Change practice. She supports her clients through social media and digital media initiatives, media relations, and product and web development.

Samara has worked on a variety of government projects for clients including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to increase awareness of colorectal and gynecological cancers; the National Institute on Drug Abuse to promote drug and prevention research; and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to help address health disparities among minorities.

Samara holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Women Leaders: The Journey to the Top

Mar 13

I grew up surrounded by strong women, with my mom being the first I was exposed to. She escaped Vietnam by boat with my siblings, lived through two refugee camps, and raised our large family by herself in the United States—all with limited knowledge of English. Because of her, I was motivated to work hard in college, empowered to believe in my own and other women’s potential, and became optimistic that someday my hard work (and my mom’s) would pay off in my career.

However, this past year been a brutal test of my optimism. After the November election, I felt what many women had felt—uncertain about the future for women and troubled for what the election meant for little girls everywhere.

But since the start of 2017, extraordinary events like the Women’s March and the “A Day Without a Woman” strike began to reinstill that sense of hope in me.

To continue the momentum, last week Ogilvy held a panel discussion with top female leaders from the UN Foundation, AARP, and IBM Interactive Experience. These powerful women shared their success stories, offered advice for management, and empowered a room full of women (and a few men) to be their best selves no matter their gender, race, or age.

Not only did these incredible women talk about their journey into top managerial roles, but they also stressed how important it has been throughout their careers to inspire and uplift other women along the way.

Right now, women in our society make up half of the U.S. population, but hold only 23% of government offices; only 70 nations have had a female leader, and of these 70 nations, eight women leaders are currently their country’s first. Furthermore, only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women, so what the panelists shared demonstrated the significance of gender equality to the audience.


Give yourself credit

“I worked for it” was one of the first statements one of the panelists made, and it reminded the women in the room that they, including myself, deserved to be there.

I grew up in a family that depended on government assistance, and worked hard throughout my childhood to become the first member of my family to graduate college debt-free—no easy feat. However, when I first started at Ogilvy after college, a sense of intimidation emerged as I worked alongside very incredible colleagues in the renowned Social Change practice, known for its award-winning work with campaigns like The Heart Truth that I studied in college.

Fortunately, I was eventually able to feel proud of myself for making it to Ogilvy at such a young age and cognizant of the hard work that got me there.

Networking matters!

Networking, unless it happens with female executives, may not create the same advantages for women as it does for men. Women may have to work extra hard to get the job and prove themselves for career promotions compared to their male colleagues. But despite these obstacles, we can do more to help other women and minorities by recognizing and celebrating the extraordinary work the women around us do each and every day.

Reach out and pull other women up

Mentoring and sponsoring are both helpful, but sponsoring someone is better for women. Women have more mentors than men, but may not be promoted as often because they’re undersponsored, meaning their mentors don’t often use their influence as senior executives to advocate for them.

More women (and men) in executive positions should change the way they pull women up. This can lead to amazing effects for women and their companies, including a potential increase in profits.

Know your worth

Martha Boudreau, the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at AARP, said that when it comes to salary negotiations, women should not be afraid to ask for more if they know the industry salary for the position and believe in their own potential. However, I would like to take her message even further—women should be more confident in themselves.

There is a confidence gap between men and women, and that gap affects how often women ask for promotions, how likely they are to pursue opportunities, and what jobs they apply for. Even when their work is about the same quality as men’s, women doubt their performance, and that needs to stop.

As a young professional in her early 20s, eager to know what the right steps are to become successful in my career, this Ogilvy Exchange panel was informative, empowering, and reassuring. Getting to know these phenomenal women in management who worked hard to get to where they are gives me hope that even though I have a lot of work to do, the impossible is possible.