Women in Business: Terry Rieser, COO and Gina Delio, CCO of Tag Creative

11/03/2014 05:41 am ET Updated Jan 03, 2015

Terry Rieser, Chief Operating Officer
With a distinctive background as an award-winning theatrical director, choreographer, performer, and film/video writer and producer, Terry Rieser brings a rare mix of discipline and creativity to her position, overseeing production and all operational aspects of the company. Terry is known for her enduring client partnerships in addition to her keen sensibility and outstanding work as Executive Producer for film, video, presentations and events, whether intimate or grand. As Chief Operating Officer, Terry stands behind TAG Creative's steadfast ability to deliver on promise, on time, and on budget.

Gina Delio, Chief Creative Officer
Gina Delio leads creative strategy and design for each TAG project, bringing twenty plus years of experience during which she was the recipient of over 80 prestigious awards for excellence, including 20 Cine Awards. Gina's reputation for professionalism, knowledge, and understanding of a client's vision are unquestioned. Her acclaimed documentaries, long and short films and video, broadcast commercials, multi-media, live theatrical productions and creative direction have established TAG Creative as a trusted and valued partner for some of the world's most prestigious brands.

How has your life experience made you the leaders you are today?
Terry and Gina: We were both raised by mothers who were extremely strong leaders of their families and communities. They were light-years ahead of their time. If born to a later generation, they would have been CEOs. We both had creative, confident women setting the example for us every moment of each day.

Gina: I grew up on Long Island where my mother raised five children and always ran the family finances, while working in the school district, and being very involved in community. No matter what organization she and my father joined, they would eventually end up running it. Above all they taught me that relationship building was one of the most gratifying experiences in life.

Terry: Growing up in Fort Lauderdale, my dad was a thoroughbred racehorse trainer, traveling much of the year. My mother ran the household on what was often a shoestring budget, but always made us feel that we were well situated and lacked for nothing.

She is also a true renaissance woman: a pilot during the WWII years, scuba diving instructor, surfer, and one of the first people to create and teach fitness classes for the YMCA 50 years ago.
Plus, my mother is immensely creative, and although my father did not want her to work outside the home, she pursued a degree in interior design, got her real estate license, and has managed her own finances for many years. She always told me to have a vision, make a plan, and go for it.
How has your previous employment experience aided your positions at Tag Creative?
Terry: I was first involved in live theater as a professional dancer and a director/choreographer so I'm used to managing a large team to realize a vision. I had to be extremely organized to coordinate the creative process. Utilizing my film degree, I moved into writing/producing videos. Ultimately, all of my different work experiences and capabilities came together leading to my position at TAG.

Gina: From the start of my career, I always worked with entrepreneurs and small business. From a very early period, I was involved in management as well as creative.

By 24, I was a producer managing projects globally, traveling internationally, and managing teams. By 30, I was working in small creative companies managing the business, developing new clients, and also producing the work.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Tag Creative?
Terry and Gina: One of the highlights is being able to collaborate with incredibly talented clients and creative thinkers of diverse backgrounds and expertise. These are people who we not only respect, but who have supported us and given TAG Creative opportunities to continuously grow and transform.

As a company, we love creative and strategic challenges, such as utilizing new technology to create a spectacular visual experience for a large audience or elevating a brand image beyond expectations.

Our work also wins a lot of awards and being recognized by your peers is always incredibly gratifying. We love what we do and cultivating a culture where everyone on the team participates, and shares ownership and credit, makes it even more rewarding.

It's no easy task to build a successful business, capable of not only survival, but growth in the years following 9/11 and through the Great Recession. Transformation is key to our evolution, while staying true to our mission and to our vision.

What is the secret to creating digital strategies for luxury clients?
Terry and Gina: The key to representing any brand, not just those in the luxury sector, is to deeply understand the brand itself and to know the audience they're trying to reach. You have to be a true brand defender and not only meet the brand's objectives but stay true to its DNA.

For luxury clients in particular, image is incredibly important and quite often is their point of difference in the marketplace. You need to constantly be aware of and honor their image, and make sure your creative decisions are driven by it. Brands are ever evolving and adapting to the changing times. Understanding that nothing is ever fixed, no matter the longevity of the brand, is extremely important.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
Terry and Gina: Before you start, you really need to understand your own capabilities and have a vision of what you want to become. Do your research. Think it through, but don't get stuck in the thinking stage. There's no way to test the waters and ultimately you have to believe in yourself and take that leap of faith.

Lean out and in. Use the support that's around you. Support comes in all shapes -- your employees, mentors, family, and friends.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Terry and Gina: First, support is key. We have very supportive families and, most importantly, we're incredibly supportive of each other.

We're also both very athletic and make time to relax through all types of sports and outdoor activities. As avid swimmers, we find any excuse to go to a beach and get in the water. We also love biking, hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking, you name it.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Terry and Gina: Too much humility. Women tend to be less willing to boast about themselves, or to say, "Sure, I can do that." They may think that others are going to do it for them, like waiting for their bosses to reward or promote them, rather than asking for it. If you're hesitant and don't promote your own capabilities and achievements, it's problematic.
Be as fearless as possible and constantly remind yourself that you have a lot of experience. Stand up for yourself and ask for what you believe you're worth.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Terry and Gina: From the beginning, we've had a lot of encouragement from strong women. And we've learned from them - our teachers and mothers. We had countless teachers and advisors who saw great potential in us and who nurtured us to see those abilities in ourselves. We try to pay that forward as much as possible and are always conscious of the example we're setting for our employees and younger women on the client side.

Mentoring young people (and a lot of them are women) is one of the most rewarding experiences in business. When we hire people just starting out, we let them know that there is a lot of room for advancement and we love cultivating their talent, ensuring that they're in the right job for their inclinations and talents, and watching them blossom.

A current example is a creative producer who began with us as our executive assistant. She showed incredible talent, ambition, and curiosity, and has grown rapidly into one of our most valued staff members.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Terry and Gina: When we were growing up we looked up to and were influenced by the many women making inroads, paving the way for where we are today. Currently -- business leaders like Sheryl Sandberg, Laurie Ann Goldman and our own clients in strong leadership positions such as Karen Fondu and Carol Hamilton of L'Oreal, and Mary Leach from Movado Group are all inspirations and role models for us. These are women who aren't afraid to stand up for what they believe in and really make a difference in the world we live in.

What do you want Tag Creative to accomplish in the next year?
Terry and Gina: We've been expanding our services to be even more of a strategic partner and full-service creative agency for our clients. We start with the brand experience and we're now diving into digital, adding strategic planning and backend distribution and analytics (in addition to creative services). We also have been creating more consumer advertising. Overall, we'd like to increase our visibility so that the market knows about us and can take advantage of our wide-ranging capabilities and expertise.