Sharon Callahan ’84

Sharon Callahan ’84

  • CEO of LLNS at Omnicom Group
  • EVP of Omnicom Group, New York

“I love my job because I get to work with amazingly smart and creative people, learn about new ways of communicating, and come up with ideas all day,” says Sharon Callahan.

Since 2008, she’s been executive vice president of Omnicom Group, a global holding company of marketing communications firms. She added CEO to her responsibilities three years ago and now oversees a portfolio of companies that provide marketing services to the health care industry.

It’s her job to find innovative solutions to the marketing challenges faced by her clients, which include global health care leaders Merck, Novartis, and Johnson & Johnson. And that means staying on top of technology. “I’m immersed in it,” says Callahan, who helps clients deliver their messages through online networks and mobile technology.

Women in technology
In the spirit of the Sit With ME project, the Quarterly is showcasing several alumnae working in the industry. Coming from backgrounds that include a variety of majors and working in a wide range of jobs, from designing Navy destroyers to creating educational software, they illustrate the many opportunities available and the many paths into the field that a liberal arts education offers.

With close to 30 years in the business, she has a thing or two to say about the role of women in technology. “Gender equality in the workplace produces a better bottom line,” she says. “Diverse teams improve effectiveness and drive innovation, because men and women often think differently and have different ways of approaching challenges and finding solutions.”

An English major with a minor in drama, Callahan had her heart set on an advertising career with a big, Madison Avenue agency. “When I graduated from Wheaton, I had a great job lined up, and then budget cuts came and the job never materialized.” So she took a job in medical publishing and found that she really liked health care and technology. “We were early pioneers in publishing medical content on the Internet,” she says.

After a stint with a dot-com in the ’90s, she joined Omnicom and hasn’t looked back.

“My liberal arts education taught me to see things from many different perspectives. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to fix things and turn a situation around.”