Women in Marketing: Leadership at MGM Resorts, McDonalds, Disney, JPMorgan Chase and Sweetgreen Share Stories

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At Brand Innovators’ recent Women in Marketing livecast event, female leaders from MGM Resorts, McDonalds, Disney, JPMorgan Chase and Sweetgreen shared their own career experiences and how they are working to motivate the next generation of female leaders.

Women now hold almost half of all executive positions in advertising, media and tech companies, and many of these leaders saw their bosses as mentors and are in turn returning the experience by supporting the burgeoning female talent on their teams.

At Brand Innovators’ recent Women in Marketing livecast event, female leaders from MGM Resorts, McDonalds, Disney, JPMorgan Chase and Sweetgreen shared their own career experiences and how they are working to motivate the next generation of female leaders.

Sarah Moore, SVP Marketing at MGM Resorts International, talked about how her success often stemmed from a willingness to try new tasks, making her more experienced for the next level of challenges. 

“It is really about raising your hand and not being afraid to say, ‘I want to try that. I want to do that.’ For me, I have done that a lot throughout my career. It hasn’t been like, this is my trajectory. Your career is a jungle gym, it is not a ladder,” Moore explained. “I have been willing to raise my hand and say, ‘I might not be qualified for that, but I want to try it.’ I am not afraid to ask, ‘What’s next?’ And MGM Resorts is the type of company where you get out what you put in and I have been very fortunate along the way, and they have taken those risks on me, because they value those that are willing to stretch themselves.” 

Joan Colletta, Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing at McDonald's has been following her passions since she was in school. As a psychology major fascinated by what makes people tick, she expected to be a clinical psychologist. But after an internship at a hospital in the psychiatric ward, she wanted to explore if there were other options for a psychology major and found market research. 

“I thought before I go straight to getting my PHD, maybe I will explore what else I can do with my background and my passions,” Colletta said. “I started researching, and I found out about marketing research and I said, that sounds like a great way to put my skills to use. Then, when I found out you could do market research for advertising, and that it would connect my love of creativity and ideas, I was sold. I am one of the rare people who found their dream job from the beginning.” 

Nicole Dixon, Vice President of Marketing at Sweetgreen, believes in helping her teams in a lead-by-example approach.

“I see leadership embodied at every level of seniority and responsibility, particularly at Sweetgreen which is very entrepreneurial at heart. I think leadership is a special alchemy. It means a willingness to do the hard work,” said Dixon. “To assume ownership of something as if it was your bank account financing the operation. To have that kind of passion and commitment to results. To lead by example, not verbal instruction or dictation. To ensure success is delivered by transmitting that zeal and ownership in a blast radius to others around you. It's paramount to me that the same way we work to resolve consumer pain points, leaders have to work to resolve internal team member pain points to unlock velocity, cohesion, and happiness of a unit. Figuring out how to enable all members to do their job and removing roadblocks.” 

Mariana Espinosa, Vice President of Marketing, International and Trade at JPMorgan Chase, manages the entire marketing organization, working with partners and business stakeholders around the world. She found that mentorship helped her to rise to this global leadership role.

“I have a professional mentor, but earlier in my career, I took my managers as my mentors,” said Espinosa. “I’ve had many different manager styles that I’ve learned from but two definitely come to mind and they’re both very different personalities. Earlier in my career, I had one manager that was very focused on pushing a task through, and being assertive and being that voice of the table that doesn’t take no for an answer. Watching her navigate projects, complications, and the company, gave me the view that ‘Sometimes it takes a little bit of a push to get things done’.”

Christina Collins, Director of Integrated Marketing at Disney found that compassion and empathy has been central to her leadership role over the pandemic.

“During this time, you couldn’t really turn away from anything that was happening in the news, because everyone was so connected virtually, so you really needed to address things like burn-outs, or these really impactful cultural moments we all experienced,” Collins said. “We needed to take a step back and understand that we’re all people. We’re all human, so how can we support each other, and get to know each other on a different level than we have before. I was a part of our inclusion task force, championing for making room for difficult and brave conversations to really drive connectedness between our different teams, which helps us work better together in the long haul. You really don’t always know what’s happening behind the screen, so taking that time to recognize that is really important.”

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