Leading Women, a CNN television series that connects its viewers to extraordinary women at the top of their chosen fields, is sponsored by OMEGA Ladymatic. Every month, two influential women are featured. In July, OMEGA and CNN introduce Mercedes Erra, CEO of France's number one advertising agency who also received the prestigious Legion d'Honneur in 2002 and the French National Order of Merit.
Mercedes Erra – CEO of France's number one advertising agency, BETC Euro RSCG
Erra was born in Spain in 1954 and immigrated with her family to France six years later, without speaking one word of French. Her drive to overcome difficulties and succeed have led her to lead the biggest advertising agency in France, all the while raising five children, aged between 14 and 22.
She initially envisioned a career in education, starting a degree in teaching. This dream was quickly dashed by her disillusionment with the disparity in pay between male and female teachers. Thus the seed of her feminist spirit was planted. She left teaching and joined advertising, starting off as an intern with Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising which would lead her, eight years later, to take the helm as general director. Then in 1995, she cofounded the BETC agency with three others, the 'E' representing 'Erra'. In its first 15 years, BETC became the leading advertising agency in the country and was named the most creative agency in the world by the Gunn Report in January 2011.
She supports many causes from women to children and human rights. Since its creation she has been highly involved in the Women’s Forum of the Economy and Society, which attracts hundreds of women from around the world each year. She’s also been involved in Osons La France, the Unicef, Human Rights Watch, the Elle Foundation and Force Femmes. Mercedes is a member of the Commission for positive images of women in the media.
She takes for a model, her father - not her stay-at-home mother - and has gone so far as to inverse the traditional parenting model. For it is her husband who is the stay-at-home father. This determined resolve to succeed and continue to chip away at the glass ceiling earned her high accolades. She received the prestigious Legion d'Honneur in 2002 and the French National Order of Merit.
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