A view from Rachel Barnes

Rachel Barnes: Open your eyes to the diversity of talent

So, I have my first Cannes under my belt. It was something of an eye-opener in many ways.

While the superyachts moored there and the Methuselahs of rosé on the Carlton Terrace might be the very definition of conspicuous consumption, it is the sheer number - and quality - of speakers and seminars that make this event unlike any other.

I caught up with some wonderful old faces and had the pleasure of meeting some equally wonderful new ones. But, from the CEOs and creative directors to the 20- somethings (the latter more often met in the general area of the Gutter Bar), one thing was clear: these people all share in an incredible enthusiasm for the creative industry of which they are a living, breathing part.

To see and feel that was perhaps my greatest personal take-home from Cannes.

While many were there purely for the networking and parties, for others – such as Mars CMO Bruce McColl – it was to learn and be stimulated.

I fell into both camps. Some of the best creative thinkers of the business and our times took to the stage. To my mind, that was unmissable. Hollywood actor Jared Leto, the UK’s finest, Ralph Fiennes, or rocker Courtney Love may not deliver your next business plan, but they certainly fire the creative spark in you.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed revealed that one of his major concerns at the moment is the ability of the industry to attract and unlock creative talent.

"We need to suck the best creative talent into this industry and recognise and reward it," declared Weed.

Well, all is not yet lost, Keith, if this issue of Marketing is anything to go by. Here we bring you 10 of the smartest young marketers in the UK today, as we reveal the 2014 Next Generation of marketers (page 40).

It is incredibly heartening to me that 70% of those who made the cut are women. The best teams are always those with variety, helping guard against groupthink. One side of that is age – and hearing from our inspiring group of young marketers on the themes of collaboration and passion for their work, it is clear that any team with these people on board is on its way to success.

Then there is the wider issue of diversity. While Sheryl Sandberg’s "Lean In" approach is not for all, hearing the Facebook chief operating officer speak at Cannes offered food for thought. As she says, change is still decades away. She quoted the figure that just 3% of creative directors today are female.

Three decades have passed since women began to account for 50% of the US college degrees awarded, according to Sandberg, but with 94% of the top chief executive jobs still going to men, change is interminably slow.

With the female bias evident in our chosen 10 young stars, perhaps real change could be on the horizon. Of that I live in hope.