Anne Kawalerski, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Bloomberg Media

Read the full interview here

  • Anne Kawalerski

    Q. What were important early influences for you that really shaped who you are as a leader today?

    A. I grew up about an hour north of New York City in the town of Sleepy Hollow. Being that close to the city, I had a lot of adventures during my high school years, like taking the train into the city to see a concert. And I traveled a lot with my friends during my high school and college years, which gave me a sense of what feeling uncomfortable was like.

    That feeling never becomes natural or even habitual, but I’m a firm believer that if you put yourself in new situations enough, you develop some muscle memory around that and you understand what it’s like to be in that position. That positioned me well for my career in terms of being okay to feel out of my comfort zone, even terrified in certain situations, but being able to smile and plow through them.

  • Anne Kawalerski

    Q. You’ve had a steep trajectory in your career. What feedback have you heard about why you were being given greater responsibilities?

    A. I’ve always had a sharp focus on being solutions-oriented. It’s about trusting your instincts and your skill set to know you can figure something out even if you haven’t encountered it before.

    And so that means having poise in new situations and not getting flustered. That means having a “yes-and” approach to things, and being confident that we can figure it out, even if we’ve never done this before. It’s about having the sheer grit and passion to make things possible.

  • Anne Kawalerski

    Q. Have you encountered any headwinds in your career because you’re a woman?

    A. I consider myself incredibly fortunate that I haven’t had any stark setbacks. But I have seen it happen for other women. For example, I sat in on the review of a young woman who was incredibly bright and gifted. A male colleague, in front of about 30 people, pointed out that she sounded like a Valley Girl when she spoke to clients. He spent 20 minutes talking about the intonation of her voice.

    I was awestruck because that was definitely never a comment I had heard about a male colleague, and the amount of actual time and attention that was spent on this was absolutely ludicrous. So I find myself more often than not in those situations – whether they be microaggressions or gender-specific criticisms about how women in business are conducting themselves — countering those moments immediately.

    The best approach in those moments is to make it a business conversation, not an HR conversation. In the particular case of that young woman, I could talk about all the value she contributed, all the new business she helped bring in, all the sacrifices she made traveling to client meetings. That changes the tenor of a conversation.

  • Anne Kawalerski

    Q. What’s the best mentoring advice you’ve been given over your career?

    A. One thing that is less talked about in the business world, particularly when you’re traveling a lot, is to always find a moment of enjoyment for yourself. I travel a lot for work, and it’s grueling. It’s really hard to get on a plane for 15, 16, 18 hours, do a meeting, and then turn around and come home.

    A boss of mine early in my career gave me this piece of advice, which I’ve shared with my teams, is that wherever you are, have an experience. Do something for yourself to make that trip worthwhile. Extract something for yourself personally in all those experiences, and you’ll feel the weight lifted off your shoulders.

  • Anne Kawalerski

    Q. What are the most common themes that come up when you are mentoring other women?

    A. Regardless of where you are in your career, you might have a particular style and a certain way of doing things. But you have to allow people to express themselves in their ways. That’s a really important lesson I learned earlier in my career — that if it’s correct, even if it’s not exactly how you would do it, you should let that go, and you should encourage managers to have a similar approach.

    Something I also tell leaders all the time is that you have to be your own best advocate. When you look at the people who are more senior to you, know that they didn’t get there passively. As women, we often have a harder time asserting pay requirements and title changes. The reality is that we have to. It’s not going to come to us, and you do have to be your best champion. The worst-case scenario is you’re told no.