Meet the new Phyllis generation


Marketa Krivy

“Motherhood is hands down the best preparation for leadership – selflessness and patience are transferable skills ;)”

Have you encountered any obstacles in your career path, specific to gender, that you’ve had to overcome? In what creative way did you rise above it – or try to?

I think we all encounter obstacles along the way that almost always relate to our biggest weaknesses or areas of growth. A wise person once told me that you only get as far as your biggest weakness will allow. I think that’s very true and it’s why being receptive to feedback and remaining in a constant state of personal growth are so important. Specifically to gender however, I’ve experienced everything from subconscious gender bias to misogynist bosses, clients and film directors. I’ve been fired from a (large, international) agency weeks after revealing I was expecting my first child (instead of a promised and anticipated promotion). I was even told (not that long ago) to try using more emojis & exclamation points in emails to avoid anyone misinterpreting my tone as aggressive! 😂 😬 😜

It’s disheartening and frustrating and there’ve been many moments where I’ve wanted to just pack it in. But now that I’m raising two girls, it’s become important to me not to give up – to keep showing up and nudging that 2%. Otherwise, I couldn’t honestly tell my girls they can be anything they want to be regardless of their gender, if I didn’t believe it myself. Raising daughters has given me a new kind of drive and the desire to be a positive example for them, which for me means not giving up on a career I have spent so many years building. (On a side note, motherhood is hands down the best preparation for leadership – selflessness and patience are transferable skills 😉 )

How do you open doors for other women to succeed?

Women are getting into the business but they’re not staying. I think this is for many reasons but a main one is that the bias starts to manifest more overtly once we reach more senior roles. That’s when the doors start closing. So I think we just need to keep them open. Open for women who show potential as leaders but may lack the experience. Open for working moms who may need more flexibility in hours or the work week. Keep the doors open so that more of the talented women in our business stay.

What has made the most difference to you in your career to date?

The most important difference has been made by a few influential leaders along the way. Scott Goodson (the founder of Strawberry Frog) gave me my first job in advertising, threw me in the deep end and said “go make it happen.” Shelley Brown (now Chief Strategy Officer at FCB but partner at Toronto agency Zig at the time) was the first person to make me realize that I had influence and needed to use it. That was a huge “ah ha” moment and a pivotal turning point. Briony Wilson, who gave me my first CD job, even though I had no experience. Angus Tucker and Stephen Jurisic (founders and Co-ECDs of john st.) who gave me the autonomy and support to lead their biggest accounts and grow into a leadership role. And Nancy Vonk, whose career has been an inspiration and whose advice, invaluable. Also, my very supportive feminist husband!

What does your ideal agency environment look like?

An agency that values people first over profit. I fundamentally believe that putting people first is the secret to creating a great culture, great work and long-term profitability. As Simon Sinek says, being happy at work should be a right, not a privilege. And it’s a right that just happens to be very good for the bottom line.


Over the course of Marketa Krivy’s 20-year multi-disciplinary career, she has helped build many brands including IKEA, Unilever, Dove, Greenpeace, Labatt, McDonald’s, Volkswagen, Target and Ford. Prior to joining Tribal DDB Toronto as ECD, she spent 4 years leading various national retail accounts at KBS+ and john st. Marketa brings a modern view on how agencies can evolve from legacy ways of thinking and working with clients. Her work has been recognized at the industry’s top national and international award shows including Cannes, One Show, and Clios. She also has the distinction of creating one of the ICA’s top 10 ads of all time.