A 2022 study found that when women take risks at work, they face more negative consequences if that risk fails.

In the workplace women don’t typically see risks pan out the same way men do. A 2022 study found that when women take risks at work, they face more negative consequences if that risk fails. Then they’re less willing to take future risks at work. At DDB Worldwide, we thrive on risk, so everyone should feel like they can take risks.   

DDB’s founding members – and our first female Copy Chief Phyllis Robinson – were no stranger to risk. She even said, “We throw out the rules every day and make up our own,” so embracing risk is part of DDB’s DNA, especially for the women who work here.   

In the spirit of Embracing Equity–this year’s International Women’s Day theme–we’d like to honor all the women of DDB who take risks, and feel free to do so thanks to DDB’s Four Freedoms. Freedom from Fear. Freedom to Fail. Freedom to Be. and Freedom from Chaos.   

Because without these freedoms, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to embrace risk.  

Continue reading to learn how the women of DDB have embraced risk in their daily lives and careers. 


“Risk equals growth…. the last risk was packing up house and home and moving my family from Sydney, Australia to Singapore to work for DDB back in 2019. Moving to a new country came laced with stressful moments but overridden by excitement and growth from new experiences, cultures and explorations. [The] Four Freedoms encourages me to think outside the square, to be innovative with business solutions and to give everything my best shot without the fear of politics, judgement, or failure.”

Esther Selvanayagam
Chief Financial Officer, DDB Singapore

“My favorite thing about DDB are the Four Freedoms. I’ve made many mistakes along the way and always knew my bosses would have my back. I’ve been empowered to try new things and I’ve been embraced for being myself in every way. Aside from creativity, the Four Freedoms are the most essential thing about DDB and they permeate everything we do at alma.”

Angela Rodriguez
SVP/Head of Strategy, alma

“Personal and professional growth means you’re going to need to get comfortable with taking calculated risks. And if you’re not a little scared when you do, then you'll never stretch beyond your comfort zone. Follow your instincts and go for it.”

Ro Rooney
Global Chief People Officer, DDB Worldwide

“At DDB I know my team has my back and that makes it all worth it, we don’t point fingers when the sh.. hits the fan, we huddle we plan we figure it out. That’s a real TEAM and it makes a huge difference.”

Deidre O'Sullivan
Integrated Producer, DDB New York

“The biggest risk is telling the truth, especially when it might be hard to hear. But without truth, there's no integrity. Truth-telling pushes us to make authentic work, to be better colleagues and stronger people.”

Susie Walker
Creative Chief of Staff, DDB Worldwide

“I advise women to believe in their abilities and recognize that taking calculated risks can lead to recognition and rewards beyond what they expect.”

Nikki Lamba
Global Chief DE&I Officer, DDB Worldwide

“[The Four Freedoms] provide a truly cool code for us all to live by. It’s easier to take risks when you know someone has your back.”

Sheryl Marjoram
CEO, DDB Sydney

“Taking the risk is believing in possibilities and being stronger than our fear. No one learns to swim without jumping into the water. No one grows without having faith that we really can.”

Monica Prieto
Head of Data, DDB Colombia

"Freedom is only part of the answer. Freedom is the atmosphere. A lot goes on within that freedom. The respect, first of all, of one human being for another—a respect for his ideas, his opinions, especially if they differ sharply from your own."

Phyllis Robinson
Copy Chief, Doyle Dane Bernbach

“Taking risks is essentially seizing opportunities. It’s avoiding those regretful moments when we glance back and wonder, “what if?” Yes, it’s scary and exciting at the same time, but finding the courage to overcome your fear of the unknown builds strength and resilience. So, when the way forward is unclear, take the risk, seize the opportunity, and forge your own path. That’s when the magic happens.”

Jolene Quek
Marketing Director, DDB Asia

“A risk in advertising is about backing an idea that breaks new ground. Moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar.”

Nikki McKelvie
Managing Director, DDB New Zealand

“Embracing equity and risk means challenging the status quo, trusting your gut, and thinking big to drive impactful outcomes. I am inspired daily by DDB’s Four Freedoms and creative pioneer Phyllis Robinson who never stopped challenging herself to be bold and brave in all instances.”

Donna Tobin
Global Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, DDB Worldwide

“For me, risk is the willingness to embrace failure as an opportunity for learning and growth, and to cultivate a culture of experimentation and creative exploration.”

Amila Hrustic B.
Creative Director, DDB Prague

“Having spent over twenty years in the advertising and marketing business, there are few things that truly scare me. More than a reflection of my confidence, this is a result of how experience teaches you that nothing is the end of the world. Therefore, to me, a risk is something that can still make me fearful, in a good way. Something that I cannot fully imagine the outcome of. Something that brings back the butterflies in the stomach!”

Vanaja Pillai
Head of DEI, DDB Mudra Group

“Innovation comes from taking risks and I love thinking about new ideas and bringing these to the table. The Four Freedoms gives me further carte blanche to do so.”

Joyce Idoniboye
Chief People Officer, DDB EMEA

“I feel closer to really becoming myself when I take a risk. I love the safety of feeling comfortable, but I know if I don’t do the good thing that scares me, I’ll never know how great it could be.”

Brittney Rigby
Head of Communications & New Business, DDB Australia

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Outloud.” - Coco Chanel

Elizabeth Cornish
Chief of Staff, DDB Worldwide

“At work and in sports, progress always involves risk. 2022 was a risky year for me (at both). A year that involved time management, physical and mental fatigue, stress, and work-life balance.”

Valentina Danna
Head of Content, Zero Gravity

“Five years ago I moved myself and three pets(!) from NYC to London. It was the risk that launched 1000 risks, like that saying about Helen of Troy, but not quite.”

Molly Wilkof
Creative Director, adam&eveDDB

“I feel empowered and confident with the Four Freedoms behind me. At DDB, I truly feel that my opinion always matters and that every idea, no matter how small, is a good idea and can form into a bigger message.”

Aly Curran
Global Marketing & Communications Coordinator, DDB Worldwide

“Risks are creative solutions driven by curiosity, passion, strategy, and unique ideas that require going against the status quo to make something extraordinary.”

Dawn Mitchell
Director of Supplier Diversity, DDB Worldwide

“[A risk is] anything that takes me outside my comfort zone, where I don’t feel confident about a guaranteed outcome, and I’m ok with the conflict within that. I always loved a quote I read in Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights, ‘it’s not a risk unless you lose the fight.’”

Kate Sheppard
Director of Group Operations, DDB Sydney

“Life is a gamble, so I take a risk by betting on myself. Time and again. Failure is never easy for anyone, but as long as you’re able to take from those learnings and keep moving forward, you will often find that betting on yourself is one of the best things you can do.”

Regina Chung Loy
Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications, DDB Worldwide

"It is always my goal to lead by example and create an environment that encourages a growth mindset – one where no matter our level, we are always learning and seeking to expand our experience. This helps create an environment where it is not only safe to take risks and be brave, but it is encouraged."

Sandra Alfaro
President DDB Chicago

"Daring to question relentless prejudices that have become the social norm as well as having the confidence to challenge irrational or illogical thinking or behavior. Not being afraid to be bold because everyone has the right to voice their opinion. Afterall, taking risks is how we can help change the world."

Michelle Kang
General Manager DDB Korea

“We should reach a point when we do NOT need to celebrate woman on just one day. Equality and respect in all aspects of life should be a part of what we do naturally and authentically. EVERY DAY!”

Varsha Kaura
Global Business Lead/MARS DDB Worldwide

"I’m new to DDB and came across this role when I was on maternity leave, home with my newborn son. I debated about whether I should share that I had two young kids, fearful that it could be seen as a weakness. But I took a risk and went for it, sharing that I had a new baby. I wasn’t rejected but embraced and welcomed as both a strategic leader and a mom."

Amanda Peters
Head of Strategy DDB New York

"Risk is easier when you know you have a team to fall back on. So I always build a strong team & let them know that nothing they can ask is stupid, or not worth working through."

Jacqueline DeBerry
ACD Art Director DDB New York

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.” – Anais Nin

Lucia Grillo
Chief Integration Officer DDB North America

"If you ask for something ridiculous the worst anyone can say is no, and best thing they can say is yes. So when it comes to risk, i just remind myself of that."

Morgan Mack
ACD Copywriter DDB New York

“To accomplish anything significant you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Especially creatively, daring to take chances and make mistakes is how you grow. I love taking risks because what’s the worst thing that can happen? You fail? Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a huge part of it.”

Natalie Rose Brandt
Global Designer DDB Worldwide

"Showing vulnerability is risky - it’s exposing a layer of oneself that may not be accepted, or may even be used against you, particularly in a professional setting – but you can’t be a fully formed leader without it."

Natalia Schultz
Chief People Officer DDB North America

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