Former CMO and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Omnicom, Sam Phillips has a passionate and positive style that energises people to confront their (often unspoken) fears and comprehend that growth can come from the lowest of lows. Her style breaks down barriers, is data, inspiration and empathy based and focuses on the power that individuals and corporations have to make a difference in the world, no matter what that world throws at them.
Sam Phillips has spent the past 28 professional years (20 years at Board level) – working across a range of client and agency businesses. Her most recent 15 years were spent at Omnicom, a global leader in marketing communications, where she held 3 roles simultaneously. Though her greatest focus in recent years was leading 50+ agencies / C-suites (media, creative, PR, health, branding, experiential) and their 9,000 employees from thinking of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) as a tertiary issue to making D&I a top-down leadership focus that drove bottom-up trust, energy, voice and change. Highlights of Phillips’ career as Chief D&I Officer include:
- Gender - Chaired pan-Omnicom gender-focused Business Resource Group (BRG) before becoming Exec Sponsor. Omnicom’s agencies in the UK now have equal numbers of men and women at the senior level. This is rare!
- Multicultural - founded award winning multicultural marketing consultancy OMG Ethnic in 2009
- LGBT+ – Exec Sponsor of Omnicom UK’s LGBT+ BRG which was shortlisted for Corporate BRG of the year at 2019 British LGBT+ Awards
- Disability - Exec Sponsor of Omnicom UK’s disability BRG and drove global strategic partnership with www.thevaluable500.com which is focused on changing the business world’s perception of 1.3bn disabled people.
- Mental Health – Partnered the leader of mental health BRG to open up conversation and action around mental fitness
- D&I Census – conceived game-changing D&I specific Census with 85% response rate. Data is powerful
- Client facing - created a D&I consultancy to advise clients re their D&I strategies, workforce evolutions and outputs.
Phillips’ parallel roles were CMO of Omnicom Media Group UK and Assistant Dean (global) of Omnicom University – Omnicom’s global Executive Education leadership programme. Prior to joining Omnicom, she spent nine years as Marketing Director of Time Inc / Head of Marketing at ITV. Back in the dim distant past she cut her teeth as an account handler at advertising agencies J. Walter Thompson and TBWA, leading client businesses such as Wonderbra in the ‘Hello Boys’ era.
Sam Phillips’ personal story is an inspirational and powerful narrative of harnessing almost unbearable personal tragedies to make the world more human and equal – whilst simultaneously driving a 20-year Board level career.
Unbroken by her eldest son’s stillbirth, his resuscitation and significant disability – and following the adoption of her youngest child from a Russian orphanage, next came her husband’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis and ultimate death, which left her widowed at 40 with 3 very young children. Her second child was diagnosed with ADHD and then what followed was an intense familial pressure to leave the corporate world behind. But instead she edged forward, forging a pathway to Diversity & Inclusion leadership across 50+ businesses, including operating as a UK Government champion for disability for 3 years.
Sam Phillips has spoken about leadership, diversity, inclusion at 10 Downing Street, the Council of Europe and the Global Festival of Media. She is a Trustee of the coronavirus-focused National Bereavement Partnership and sits on the Development Board of RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). She has been the recipient of ‘Trailblazer for Change’, ‘Women To Watch, Europe’ and ‘People Of The Year’ awards.