Monique L. Nelson is leaning in.

Monique L. Nelson

Chairman & CEO, UniWorld

New York, NY

Women in Media Mentoring Initiative

While I always made sure I took care of my responsibilities as an EA, I knew that I had to learn everything it took to be a CEO; my journey from background to lead had begun.

Long before I was sitting in boardrooms and executive suites, I dreamed of being a performer. While I knew I wasn’t a great singer, I never saw myself in the background; I always saw myself as the lead. Of course, like any mom, I know my mom saw it too. I guess that is why she accompanied me to many training sessions including dance lessons, singing lessons and even riding lessons. As I trained, I mastered my riding classes and eventually became a Blue Ribbon winner.

My many hours of lessons paid off in the areas of discipline and commitment. However, they really didn’t help with my career choices. When I entered college, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do professionally, so I took an assessment test. My scores indicated that I might be strong in sales and marketing.

I interviewed with many companies until I was offered a position working for International Paper, selling that back page of Post-It® notes, the brown paper of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and ream wrap. I loved it (go figure!). While I learned a lot about sales and marketing, more importantly, I learned that the opportunities to market a brand were limitless.

I moved on to work for Motorola. I worked in many capacities, including a position as an Executive Assistant for the Corporate VP. I was in a unique position to attend every meeting and learn the business of corporate America from the bottom up. While I always made sure I took care of my responsibilities as an EA, I knew that I had to learn everything it took to be a CEO; my journey from background to lead had begun.

After several promotions and job changes, I eventually moved to UniWorld Group, where I managed the Agency’s integrated marketing, digital and branded entertainment departments. Again, as I worked hard in my job as a Brand Marketer, I watched and learned everything I could from advertising icon and UniWorld Group founder Byron Lewis. After five years as a brand marketer and seeing the opportunity with Mr. Lewis’ retirement in the wings, I decided to lean in and move from the background to lead. I pulled a team together and met with Mr. Lewis to discuss not only taking the helm of UniWorld Group, but continuing a legacy of greatness.

Today, I am Chairman and CEO of UniWorld Group, the country’s longest-standing multicultural advertising agency.

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