Ingrid Otero-Smart, CEO at Casanova/McCann


We had the privilege of speaking to Ingrid Otero-Smart, who is not only the President/CEO of Casanova//McCann, but the new acquirer of its majority ownership stake. We thank Ingrid for her time, her answers and for being an inspirational leader in the advertising industry.

If you could attribute one other person or life event to your success, who or what would it be and why?

I don’t think I could pinpoint to one person or event, as there have been so many that have influenced me. Being the oldest of four children always pushed me to be responsible and reliable. My Dad instilled in me a strong work ethic and the ability to network although I doubt that he would have called it that. My Mom always told me I could do or be anything I wanted and 30 years ago that was tough for a woman. And having my son gave me a totally new perspective and reason for being. He reminds me to dream bigger every day.

What is the number one quality you look for in talent?

Passion, hunger. I read years ago a quote that influenced my hiring practices and has served me well, “hire for attitude and train for aptitude”. I can teach you all I know about advertising but can not change the wrong attitude or instill passion in someone with none. Nothing yet can take the place of meeting someone in person and hearing them speak about what makes them tick.  That is one of the things I dislike about the new processes of hiring where you submit your resume online and only get to meet a small number of candidates that the algorithms picked for you.

What is something the industry isn’t paying attention to that they should? 

I think as an industry we have been too focused on youth and have not been paying enough attention to older candidates that bring a wealth of experience and passion. This is even more important when you look at the demographics of the US and see an aging population that needs to be addressed with the right insights and respect.

What is the very best career advice you’ve ever received?

I have been blessed to have received so much good advice that I could write a book! But one that is always top of mind came from a very wise old client, John Vanderzee. He told me to choose what battles to fight and which ones were not worth the effort. I think about that a lot, and take it to heart.

What’s one thing from our current situation that you hope is part of the post-COVID world? 

I think we have learned many lessons that should not be forgotten when we go back to whatever the new normal will be. The fact that we can be nimble and pivot fast is a big lesson of these times. Why do we need to take 10 days to do something when we have proven that we can do it as well in 3? Can we be more flexible with our teams now that we know that we can get a lot done no matter where we are sitting?


By Sasha The Mensch