Gabrielle Shirdan

Five years ago, Gabrielle Sheridan graduated with a bachelor of arts in advertising from Klein College. Three months ago, she got a job as a creative director for advertising agency 72andSunny's New York office. It's clear that her meteoric rise is no fluke.

"I've just been sleepless since day one," Sheridan said.

Her sleeplessness didn't begin after college. Sheridan took initiative as a student, starting with an internship at another advertising firm, LevLane, her sophomore year. Internships were only supposed to be offered to seniors but, because of her tenacity, she was given permission to work there earlier. They made her a salaried employee while she was still in college—working during the day and taking classes at night. Her boss, LevLane Creative Director Bruce Lev, was one of her professors. Sheridan appreciated the fact that many of her professors, like Lev, still worked in the industry.

Some might think after securing a great job at LevLane, it wasn't important for her to finish college. But that's not how Sheridan felt.

"Well, my mom would have been really mad," she laughed. "But I'm proud to be Temple Made. The professors at Temple really gave me my knowledge and I still quote the same things they said to me today."

That knowledge enabled her to advance in her career, moving to ab+c Creative and from there to Spike DDB (a firm run by acclaimed director Spike Lee). While these were all significant steps in her career, it was the move to 72andSunny that marked her promotion from associate creative director to creative director.

Sheridan's journey through these various agencies has led her to some fun and fascinating projects. While she enjoyed the popular ones, including an ad that starred Golden State Warrior Steph Curry, she prefers the ads with deeper messages. When she was at Spike DDB, she created a video for the New York Police Department, aiming to help heal relations between the police and the community. While it hasn't been released yet, it's one of Sheridan's proudest pieces.

Today, her main client is General Mills, representing its subsidiaries like Yoplait and Cheerios.

"All of the work I do is not about selling cars or cereal," she said. "It's about trying to change the world."

As an African American, she is proud to already be changing the world by adding some much needed diversity to the industry. She even received an email from a stranger, letting her know how meaningful it was that a person of color was reaching these heights.

"I wanted to become a creative director by the time I turned 30, I'm happy to do it 4 years advanced," Sheridan said. "Now my favorite part about my position is that I can inspire other people."