Nicola Mendelsohn is the Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa for Facebook
Nicola Mendelsohn has been the Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa for Facebook since 2013.
She currently serves on The Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board, and in September 2014 she became a non-executive director of Diageo. She and her husband are also co-presidents of the charity Norwood.
In 2015 she was awarded a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the creative industries in the UK. From 2012-2018, she was the co-chair of the Creative Industries Council alongside Secretaries of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and BEIS – a joint forum between the UK creative industries and government.
Before joining Facebook, Nicola worked in advertising for over 20 years, beginning her career at Bartle Bogle Hegarty then moving to be deputy Chairman of Grey London. In 2008, she became partner and executive chairman at the advertising agency, Karmarama.
Prior roles include: first female President of the IPA (the advertising industry trade body), Trustee of The White Ribbon Alliance, Chairman of Women’s Aid Development Board and President of the Women in Advertising and Communications London club (WACL).
What brought you to Davos 2019?
We know the internet has fundamentally changed the way billions of people live, work and connect. The potential is huge, but it also raises complex issues no individual company can address by itself - it needs greater collaboration across industry and government. The opportunity to talk with global stakeholders at forums like Davos, to think carefully about the type of Internet we want in the future is one we wholeheartedly embrace. As a company, giving people spaces where they can discover communities, deepen their connections and create positive change in a safe way is our top priority; it’s key to growing the value Facebook provides to people, communities and businesses.
Defining leadership moment at Davos:
Amidst all the talk of innovation, we were reminded of the importance of ensuring young people are not left behind by progress. Which is why initiatives like the Global Alliance for YOUth, initially spearheaded by Nestle and officially launched at this year’s conference, are crucial in bringing together businesses to upskill millions of people across the world.
As a founding member of the Global Alliance, that now includes 20 companies partnering together across the world, we hosted a Facebook Live event where senior leaders from some of the world’s biggest companies talked to youth about how, as industries evolve and job roles change, today and tomorrow's workforce need new, adaptable skills like creativity, communication, and confidence to succeed.
This kind of initiative is vitally important when figures show that 60% of children starting school today will have jobs that don’t exist yet in the future. Our different generations can learn a lot from each other.
Personal motivation to advocate for girls and women:
I’m so grateful to have had strong female role models to look up to throughout my youth and as I’ve progressed through my career. Having access to relatable business role models is such an important confidence driver, but research has shown that only three in ten women can think of a role model who inspires them. My personal motivation lies in ensuring that more women have someone to look up to, who don’t necessarily have celebrity status but have life circumstances much like their own.
I’m passionate about making sure young women have access to training in industries where there is high growth and opportunity, such as the technology sector, but where there has traditionally been a lower representation and a bigger gender pay gap. Why is this important? So that young women like my daughter can have the same opportunities as my sons.
At work, creating an inspiring and inclusive culture at Facebook is so important to me. Initiatives like our Women in Leadership programme, as well as our Managing Bias, Managing Inclusion and Be the Ally courses have been instrumental in this. It’s absolutely critical to our success as a company, as people from all backgrounds use Facebook to connect with others and we’ll better serve their needs with a more diverse workforce.
Where can people learn more about you and your key projects?
A project that’s really close to my heart is #SheMeansBusiness. We launched #SheMeansBusiness in the UK in May 2016, with the aim of helping empower women to pursue their business ideas by giving them access to advice, partnerships, tools and events. The programme is now active in seven markets across EMEA and through it we have trained over 50,000 women globally. We have an online hub at www.shemeansbusiness.fb.com where you can read the stories of inspirational female entrepreneurs, many of which I’ve had the privilege of meeting. You will also find more about me on Facebook and Instagram.
Always be curious.