Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


Letting Go of the Little Things

Letting Go of the Little Things

More From Shelly

In this video

As a busy, working mom, Lazarus had to learn to not sweat the small stuff, down to her kids' worn out shoes.

Shelly's Biography

Cause of Choice: WWF
Childhood Ambition: “[Becoming] a wife and a mother.”
Madwoman Role Model: Mary Wells, “who founded her own agency, who was respected by everyone, who was glamorous, who was creative … she was this mythic figure to me … I always used to think, ‘Now what would Mary do?’"
Most Meaningful Advice Received: From David Ogilvy who said, "It's always and only about people."

In her 40-plus years at Ogilvy & Mather, Shelly Lazarus went from frequently being the only woman in the room, to being the woman running the show at the global advertising giant.  Lazarus graduated from Smith College in 1968 and earned an MBA from Columbia University, where she was one of only four women in her class.  After a short stint as a product manager at Clairol, her passion for marketing and brand building led her to Ogilvy & Mather, making her one of few women in the ad industry at that time, particularly on the accounts side.   
Lazarus subsequently spent two years in Dayton, Ohio, where her husband, a pediatrician, was stationed in the Air Force.  While there she headed a division at a local department store and began raising the first of her three children.  Returning to Ogilvy in 1976, she shot up the corporate ladder and formed a close relationship with the firm’s legendary founder, David Ogilvy. When Ogilvy’s first female CEO & Chairman, Charlotte Beers, stepped down in 1996, Lazarus stepped up. She took the helm of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and remained there for over a dozen years, formally turning over the reins as CEO in 2009, and as Chairman in 2012.
Her signature impact at the global advertising giant has been clear branding, close client relationships, and being at the vanguard of integrated marketing campaigns for the digital age. She has overseen advertising campaigns for American Express, Coca-Cola, IBM, Dove and Nestlé, among others. Her numerous accolades and  honors include being the first woman to receive Columbia Business School’s Distinguished Leader in Business award and being consistently ranked amongst Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women in Business.”

Related Videos

Julie Payette
Julie Payette
Astronaut, VP, Canada Lands Company & COO, Montreal Science Centre

Julie Payette was born in Montreal, Quebec, on October 20, 1963. She graduated cum laude from McGill University with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1986, and received her Masters in ...

Maureen Towey
Maureen Towey
Theater Director

Maureen Towey is a Brooklyn-based director, specializing in visual and performance-based projects and serves as the Creative Director for the indie rock band, Arcade Fire. She also...

Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard

Alfre Woodard is a prolific actor; she has acted in over 25 TV series and over 70 films during her long career. She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and didn’t consider becoming a...

Hayley Wickenheiser
Hayley Wickenheiser
Olympic Gold Medalist, Women's Hockey

Hayley Wickenheiser is regarded as one of the best female hockey players in the world. The five-time Olympic medalist from Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, began her career as a profession...