If you can always put yourself in the shoes of the consumer by way of empathy, then naturally whatever you put out there has a higher likelihood to be authentic and come across with credibility and impact. I think in college, what they don’t teach you is that most effective brands can connect with not only the head, but with the heart. And I think that’s why, today, female leaders are generally more effective. They have a high EQ [emotional quotient], which allows them to not only have a degree of listening leadership, but also lead from a point of empathy.
What’s the most valuable career lesson you’ve learned through experience?
Leadership can’t be role modeled, in some ways. I think you can understand some of the capabilities and traits of other leaders, but your leadership style has to kind of come from and be really connected to who you are at your core. For the most part, my career was kind of a rigid process in terms of the ways that we were working. I came into many situations where it was fairly robotic. So, for me, my unlock was when I defined how I was going to show up as a leader.
If someone is just starting out in your field, how can she position herself for success?
For me, it’s knowing the business of the business. I think I’m a lifelong learner, and I think you have to study the business that you’re entering. I may sit in the seat of marketing, but my first step in any job is that I would find the finance people, I would find the research people—the finance people because I wanted to learn as much as I could about our consumers, and about how the business made and lost money. Show up as a person who is constantly learning and growing and evolving.
How can someone impress you in a job interview?
I think they speak with conviction and passion, and it’s informed by data, but also just they’re showing their innate sensibility and understanding. So the best of marketing is the art and science, but showing up with conviction and passion and being able to speak in a very clear and concise manner excites me. The other thing I would say is someone who comes in with just the most outrageous, bold idea.
Name the people whose Stories you’ll never skip over on Instagram
Of course, my close friends. But I love Adam Grant. Adam really has such a unique take on corporate persona and leadership that I constantly find myself referring back to his work.
Fill in the blank: If you weren’t in your current career, you’d be a …
I would start an investment fund to support Black emerging companies.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Jillian Kramer is a journalist who writes about health, wellness, science, and adventure. She taps into a broad network of experts to write in-depth articles for leading publications, including Glamour, The New York Times, Scientific American, Travel + Leisure, EatingWell, and Food & Wine.