Women in Business: Jan Weinstein, EVP, Managing Director, Carat

05/09/2015 09:29 am ET | Updated May 09, 2016

Jan has spent over 30 years in Media, beginning her career after graduating from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She has been at Carat since January 2008, leading Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Macy's, Beiersdorf, Tourism Ireland, and Philips Lighting.
Jan spent eight years leading media teams at FCB for all of the agency's DTC accounts, including Eli Lilly (Cymbalta, Strattera), Merck (Fosamax, Singulair) Roche (Pegasys), Alcon (Patanol), MedImmune (Synagis), NuvaRing (Organon) and Plan B (Barr Labs) as well as The United States Census Bureau (Census 2010) Beiresdorf (Nivea, Curad and Eucerin) and Fisher Price. At FCB, she formerly led the Nabisco Biscuit portfolio, including Oreo, Chips Ahoy! and Teddy Grahams (which made her very popular at home) as well as the agency's Travel Business (Jamaica, British Virgin Islands and Fairmont hotels).

From 1998 - May 2000, Jan worked at both FCB and The MediaEdge on the Campbell's business, ultimately overseeing media for all soups, beverages (V8, V8 Splash), sauces, and prepared foods, as well as Pepperidge Farm. She also worked on Combe, Inc. At Western International Media (now Initiative), she worked as Associate Planning Director for over four years (1994-1998), as well as holding the position of Account Executive coordinating all media planning, buying and client contact for Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Lines. Jan worked on such diverse accounts as Lorus Disney Watches, Equitable Insurance, Georgia Pacific, Sylvan Learning Centers and Canon during her tenure at Western.

At Jordan McGrath Case and Taylor, where she worked from 1987-1994, Jan rose to VP, Associate Media Director on Quaker Hot and Ready to Eat Cereals, Aunt Jemima, SmithKline Beecham (Tums, Oxy), Sterling Drug Company and Fayva Shoes. Jan also worked as a Media Planner at Ted Bates on Dole, Old Spice and Avis, and at Wells, Rich Greene on Procter and Gamble , Pan Am, and Alka Seltzer.

She is a former member of the Audit Bureau of Circulation's Magazine Buyer Committee, and recipient of two MediaWeek Plan of the Year awards. She was also recipient of the Tim Elliott award at FCB in 2003, honoring the employee who most embodied the values of the company. In 2011 Jan was named a Media All Star by AdWeek.

Her proudest achievements are her two sons, Brett (21), who graduated Summa Cum Laude from The George Washington University this past January, and Scott (19), a sophomore at The University of Massachusetts - Amherst, Dean's List. Jan's passion in life is travel, and she has been to 48 states as well as numerous countries across 4 continents, soon to be 5. She lives in Forest Hills, NY.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was born a media junkie. I have always loved TV, magazines, radio, pop culture and even advertising. I bring that innate passion to my work, which I feel is critical to lead passionate people. My mother was a great role model for me. She began working part time as soon as my sister and I were old enough to be home alone after school. She rose from office receptionist to agent, ultimately representing some of the most famous speakers on the lecture circuit, including Bill Clinton. I believe my own experience as a mom has given me insight on how to provide solutions that will make everyone involved satisfied with the outcome in their own way.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Carat?
My background in working across so many categories of clients and agency models gives me a broad base of knowledge that can be reapplied. Also, I learned early on to nurture long-lasting relationships with my clients and colleagues, which has proven to be a priceless calling card. Throughout my time in past and current roles, I have always tried to be a valuable resource in my own positions, but also to help others in theirs.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Carat?
The account I was hired to run was the largest at Carat and I understood that the importance of keeping the relationship solid was critical. Making that account thrive is no small task and I am fortunate to have a great team to support me. A highlight of my career was when the business went up for review after 10 years and we succeeded in retaining and growing the scope of the account, which was, in part, a catalyst to our agency's future success. I'm so proud of being a part of the team leading the growth at Carat, which includes exceptional new business momentum, winning Agency of the Year multiple times in the advertising and marketing trades, as well as my own (and other's) advancement.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in the media?
Always see yourself as a student of the industry. Know you can learn just as much, if not more, from those who work for you than from those who you work for. Pay attention to what is going on around you and how messages and content are consumed. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions of a lot of people - it won't come off as ignorance. Inspiration can come from unexpected places. For example, after observing how my kids and their friends used new social media I suggested new approaches for a client. And last but not least, love what you do. You will work hard, so you need that passion.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Always learn from your mistakes and also from the mistakes of others. They will happen, but they should not happen twice. Once you build trust, you will likely be able to recover from a setback. But when you blow that trust by not learning from an error, you may not rebound.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I have always accepted without issue that sometimes work needs to happen while at home, and sometimes home needs me while I'm at work. I remain fluid, using my judgment to assess where I am most critical (or not) at any given time. My kids know that if they need me, I will do whatever I can to be there for them, even if it means walking out of a meeting. And my clients and colleagues know that I will be responsive to their needs, even at inopportune times for me (e.g. after hours, or when away). I make it a point to pursue my love of travel. It makes me happy; it makes me a better person and a better leader.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I think the concept of work/life balance is a huge issue for women, and in particular for moms, because others have identified it as an issue specific to women and moms. But a work/life balance must be an egalitarian concept. Only when this applies to everyone - married, partnered, single, established, Millennials, parents or not, men, women - will this be a non-issue. There is unfortunately a perception attached to women that we need more balance. Only when it is accepted that we all should expect balance in our personal and professional lives will women truly be considered equals - in pay, and in value.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've had mentors throughout my career and my life that I only realized were mentors in retrospect. I wish I knew at the time how important these people would be in shaping my future. From the boss who taught me the analytical skills I still use today, to my nanny that taught me more about my kids than I could ever read in a book, mentors are everywhere. Being called a mentor by some women (and men) during my career is probably the title I am most proud of. I hope I live up to that title, and truly influence other's current and future success at work and in life.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Based on the number of times I have heard the term "leaning in," even this week, I have to give a shout out to Sheryl Sandberg. She influences many, and she influenced the vernacular. Women who have shaped media in a groundbreaking way have also earned my admiration - Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Arianna Huffington. I am in awe of our female world leaders who earn respect and pave a path forward for women (and for men) such as Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Indira Ghandi, and currently, Hillary Clinton, and I believe in her potential to lead our nation.

What do you want Carat to accomplish in the next year?
I want us to continue and build on our great business success and I want to be able to say that I am part of one of "The Best Companies to Work For."