AWNY Community Archive

C-Suite Meet at Facebook 11.18.2015 Recap

11/30/2015 - Hosted by: AWNY's Professional Development Committee
Sponsored by: Centro
By Christine M. Mormile

The November C-Suite Meet, hosted by AWNY's Professional Development Committee, featured an intimate breakfast conversation with Sarah Personette, VP of Global Business Marketing at Facebook and AWNY Board Member. Sarah's conversation was focused around three main topics: leadership, the changing landscape and Sarah's journey in life.

Sarah began by stating that the industry is going through a rapid fire change and today's leaders are being forced to make a large impact. She added that Mark Zuckerberg is more about building ideas than moving paper around.

In the 1970s, managers led organizations. As the 1980s and 1990s approached, there was a shift from a manager to a leader. Leaders needs to set their vision ahead to understand and have the ability to fly up to 30,000 feet, back down to 0 feet, and back up again. Sarah continued by asking the audience to think about their own processes. "You might be really good as a manager or a leader, but both are really important," stated Sarah. She added by saying this is going to be really important for success over next 10-20 years.

The conversation continued onto Sarah's second topic, digitization, which is evolving day to day. There is a huge shift that we are seeing toward digital and it's important to think about how everyday processes can be digitized. Digitizing process is going to allow us to move forward over the next century.

There are two types of companies: Companies that are born digital and companies that are becoming digital. It's important overall to think with a digital mindset. Most CMOs that are being hired are those that come from a digital house or agency.

Communications is going through an evolution and Sarah noted that she believes we are in the golden age of media. 10-20 years ago, we wanted to believe that we could execute personalized marketing at scale with ROI. That's absolutely possible today and we are all a part of this evolution. The challenging issue is that the industry is changing at rapid fire. We are trying to wrap our arms around so much due to rapid change and there is so much to learn. Sarah continued by saying she is living proof of this as well and there are definitely times she feels overwhelmed.

"Be a master of your own education," stated Sarah who recommended looking as resources such as McKinsey Insights, HBR and IAB and educating on your own.

The overall goal is to find clarity in the grayness and marketing and communications today. This generation is not about demographics - it's about psychographics. Leaders need to manage the people around them through innovation and change. This requires leaders to be super comfortable with 'gray' areas in their experience. If you aren't getting boundaries, that's an opportunity for you to help build a process and help people who are a little bit scared who may not exactly know what is ahead. When you are in one of those times, identify that and think not 'black' and 'white' and instead think 'grey'. Sarah recommends that leaders sit down with their teams and asking them how we can all work together to make the current situation 'white'.

Media has gone through an extraordinary evolution over the last decade. For 50 million people, it took 38 years to adopt radio, 14 years to adopt TV, 4 years for digital and desktop, and 2 years for mobile. There were over 100 million smartphones in 2008 and there are now 2 billion smartphones at the present date. An even more extraordinary figure is that only one-third of the world's population has Internet. Many will be introduced to the Internet with a smart phone and will never see a desktop computer.

There are many positives about mobile devices. They work and function like a desktop computer and can be completely personalized. However, 80% use only 7 apps on a regular basis and 50% use only 3 apps. It is important to think about how are you using digitized business but what is your approach?

Sarah then uses Uber as an example. Uber didn't solve for a mobile problem but instead, solved for a consumer problem. This is why we now have a total transformation to how we hail transit. This transformation is also happening in consumer packaged goods, using 'Dollar Shave Club' as an example.

Everyone is trying to figure out how they pull that digital native experience into their own framework. If you go to Dubai, they have revolutionized the way that they communication with citizens and the government communicate through mobile devices.

All of this is leading toward a couple of different things. When you are spending your day and thinking about mobile, take a minute and think about moments in a consumer life stage that are revolutionized by someone else solving for that problem before we do. Facebook stood up and Mark Zuckerberg made the decision to shift toward HTML5 and a native mobile ad environment. All of these changes are happening quickly and this is certainly not a fad and is not going away.

From a marketing perspective, think of ways you can deliver personalized marketing at scale. It's about mobile, feed, native and video and the components of making those things work together. What's most exciting is the rapid evolution of messaging, with highest growth coming out of Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook is seeing this on our own portfolio of messaging apps. When you think about it, people are giving entire lives through messaging apps through tasks such as payment. This is what is coming and will continue to grow.

The growth term is moving faster than what we saw in mobile. In business, you can now start to have a personal one on one with consumers. This means that the messaging between the communication and consumer is more critical than ever. It is not about disruption. It's actually about immersion and value.

Sarah began to wrap up her conversation by speaking about her career. Connection and clarity around your value system is the best thing you can bring to yourself.

"Every single job I have ever taken I have not known what I have gotten into," stated Sarah, who has faced challenges such as being the youngest person to run companies, testing new verticals and more. When she first began her career, the first thing she started with was saying 'yes' to all tasks. Once her career progressed, the second thing she focuses on was what she needed to learn as she found that was important for overall growth.

Resources are limitless. If you want to learn about a consumer segment, a skillset or about mobile technology, Sarah encourages that you go after it. When asked where she looks for information, she answers by saying 'I go to Google'. At the age of 25, Sarah needed to learn how to create a business plan. Since she had never written a business plan before, she typed the words 'business plan' into a search engine and taught herself how to write one. Your manager is absolutely going to help educate you and it's the responsibility of your company to make sure the right tools and training are in place. However it still comes down to the accountability of self.

Another topic Sarah mentioned was the importance of career development. It's important to choose the role that is going to help you learn.

"When I first came to Facebook, my dad quoted that it was the worst decision that I have ever made," Sarah commented as she slightly chuckled.

Sarah had called her father to let him know that she was leaving her previous role to become an individual contributor for Facebook's CPG strategy. She then added that the way she makes decisions in her career is based on what she wants to learn. The C-suite executives at agencies do not understand social. The best way to learn it is to dive right in and get to know it and this allowed her the opportunity to build for a company that is known for building.

Sarah then led into her next piece of advice which was to be kind to all people. There are a lot of smart people in the world and the only reason why she was asked back was because of the way she made people feel, which is much more important than just the 'what'. Try to remember every single day to not get caught in the game - even if you don't know what game is being played. It's about getting the tasks at hand accomplished and building relationships with the people around you.

It's also important to remember that we talk a lot. Sometimes instead of talking about a task, we just need to get started.

"Just start by starting," Sarah commented explaining that if you believe there is something that needs to be started to start working on it, which helps to materialize the next step.

It doesn't matter if it does not work, as Sarah added that she's failed countless times. Sarah has run for 12 elections for a presidential role starting in 5th grade for her student body. She just kept running and eventually Sarah became president.

Successful people also make a lot of lists. Make sure that every list that you make is the next step and not the end state of what you are going to achieve. This will actually allow you to slowly but surely get tasks accomplished.

The conversation winded down to one final piece of advice - share your voice. Women are not raising their hands to actually talk and speak. The majority of newspaper articles feature quotes from men. Women often feel that sharing their story or having their voices be heard makes them seem egotistical. Sarah stated that it's not about the person speaking. It's more so about everyone else being able to hear their story and their voice. At the end of the day, we are in it to win it together. We need to know what our voice is, know what we want to talk about and be a part of the conversation. If we want to see change in this world, it needs to start with us.

from the Desk of Meryl Devulder - 11/18/2015

I recently celebrated my 1year anniversary at Thornberg & Forester, a creative production and digital design agency. Thank you to everyone for their incredible support!