Words Of Wisdom From Women Business Leaders

The CMO.com team talks to brilliant and powerful women every day. In honor of International Women’s Day 2018, we looked through our archives and found some of the best advice and insights women leaders have shared with our audience. Read on to get inspired and learn from the experts.

Mitra Best, U.S. Innovation Leader, PWC
The more lenses through which we examine a problem, the more chances we have to discover a truly novel solution. Today, on International Women’s Day, it’s especially important to recognize, in particular, the perspective women can offer–and how much this perspective is still missing from the corporate innovation process. ... We need their point of view–their lens on the world. How can we do our part in helping organizations be more successful by encouraging diversity at all levels and including women’s perspectives, in particular?
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Jennifer Breithaupt, Global Consumer CMO, Citi 
I think sometimes people wait and assume things will come to them. I think being proactive, owning your own career, and managing that career and your own brand is critically important.
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Claire Cronin, CMO, Virgin Atlantic
When it comes to recruiting staff, we look for people who have the same desire as us to care for our customers. We recruit for attitude, and then we train for skill.
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Kristina Duncan, Vice President, Global Marketing Communications, Mattel
I’ve always seen myself as someone who loves to be a great partner and loves to partner with great creatives and smart people. That sort of idea of the ultimate collaboration is when I’ve seen the most success and when I’ve had the most fun in my career.
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Michelle Huff, CMO, Act-On Software
Ascending to CMO is a big deal in your career, but not big enough to lose your balance as a person. As dedicated as I am to my new job, I am more than my career. For me, my husband and two young children are important, and I try to make sure they know it and my actions show it. Work still stops for a few hours every night as I eat dinner and spend time with my family. (No phones allowed.)
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Ann Lewnes, CMO, Adobe
Seize every opportunity that comes your way—even ones that may not seem very glamorous—and advocate for yourself. I was once at a women’s event where a young woman asked me how to deal with “demeaning requests, like planning the company holiday party.” I told her that I actually love to plan events. You can view requests as demeaning or as great opportunities to show your creativity, ability to get results, and willingness to take on a project outside of your daily scope. I have done a lot of things that people might find beneath them, and I have always done my best.

My second piece of advice is to advocate for yourself. When I was just starting out, a more senior male colleague of mine left the company and recommended me for his role. He generously told me his salary to ensure that I got what was due to me. I took the role and was not offered the higher salary, so I marched into my new boss’s office and asked for it. And I got it.
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Tripti Lochan, CEO, VML Southeast Asia And India
Before creating customer experiences, find out who your customers are and what they really want. Don’t base this on assumptions. Base this on real data that you already have. 
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Liz Matthews, SVP, Global Brand And Creative, Dell
Manage your energy like you manage your time. Energy is so fundamental to how people operate. It is often overlooked. Sometimes you give energy and sometimes you get it. If you are giving too much energy and don’t replenish it, you’ll burn out. I look at my calendar with this lens to make sure I am balancing my time.
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Margaret Molloy, Global CMO, Siegel+Gale
Organizations with a focus on workplace simplicity will attract and retain the engaged employees who deliver extraordinary business results.
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Donna Morris, EVP, Customer And Employee Experience, Adobe
Every day I see women question their capabilities and ability to advance in the workplace. If they can’t check every box on a job posting, they are worried that they should not apply. These women are cutting off their potential for career growth before they even take the first step. Every employee, female or male, has the ability to grow and expand their influence and make an impact by taking on stretch assignments and being vocal about wanting opportunities for growth. So my advice for women is to speak up and take a risk. Don’t limit yourself, and others won’t limit you either. Go for it!
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Alegra O’Hare, Vice President, Global Brand Communications, Adidas
It’s not about taking risks for risk’s sake. It’s got to be part of the strategy. It’s got to be close to the values of the brand. It’s got to make business sense.
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Maribel Perez Wandsworth, President Of The USA Today Network And Associate Publisher Of USA Today
When people often talk about talent, they’re talking about skills. Of course they are important, but the personality side of it, particularly in businesses undergoing transformation, is going to be absolutely critical to success. I’m looking at who is going to add and help build the culture that we’re seeking. I’m looking for people who really understand the big picture, who are just inherently open-minded and flexible. People who can roll with the punches, who are comfortable with discomfort, and with sometimes feeling like you’re in the messy middle of something but feeling OK about it because you have a clear vision for where you’re going.
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Anna Rafferty, Director Of Digital Marketing, BBC
Focus on the audience. There is always a temptation to do this new thing with this new technology, but why are you doing it? Keep the audience front of mind and really invest time in clarifying why you are doing something and who you are doing it for. Don’t get carried away in the joy of artistic discovery because that is self-indulgent, and you will find yourself spending a lot of money on something that won’t help your business.
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Jennifer Saenz, CMO, Frito-Lay
You have to start with the consumer. You can’t really ask the question, “What does my brand want to accomplish?’ You actually really need to ask the question, ‘Where is my consumer and what do they need from me right now?’ And I think if you go in with that perspective first, you’re in a much better place to come up with an idea that adds value to their lives that they’re willing to listen to you.”
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