In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re spotlighting the women leading our organization to a successful future. Lisa Utzschneider, IAS’s CEO, chatted with us about building confidence, finding your voice in your career, and the importance of ensuring diversity and inclusion are a core part of a IAS’s DNA.
Tell us about a woman who has impacted your career journey.
I worked at Microsoft for 10 years and reported for many years to Joanne Bradford who built the global advertising business. Joanne was my boss, my mentor and my executive sponsor. I’m forever grateful to Joanne for everything that she taught me. She taught me the fundamentals of customer engagement and GTM — how to pitch effectively, negotiate, and close a deal. She also taught me how to really do your homework and be so prepared for a customer meeting that you could pass as one of the customer’s employees. She taught me how to deeply understand your customer’s business, speak their language, understand their challenges and be solution focused and to think on my feet and be ready for any scenario when engaging with customers. A 30-minute meeting might turn into a 5-minute elevator pitch. It’s the ability to pivot, tell your story with confidence, and not rely on slides.
One of the most important lessons I learned from Joanne is how to effectively be a global leader while being a mom. Joanne lived in San Francisco and traveled to Seattle every week. She scheduled most of her one-on-one meetings on Fridays from home. I’ll never forget when we were having a one-on-one call on a Friday morning while she braided her daughter’s hair to get ready for school. Joanne didn’t miss a beat during our exchange and did not apologize for getting her girls ready while talking to me. That brief moment left a lasting impression on me. When I braid my girls’ hair in the morning, I often think of this.
What advice do you have for young female professionals starting their careers?
Do your homework and go the extra mile when prepping for meetings. It will pay off. Find your voice and speak up in meetings no matter how nerve wracking it might feel. It always gets easier over time. Take advantage of any interaction with a senior level leader. Share how you are making an impact on the business, customers, or culture — the executive will remember you for this.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Embrace Equity.” What does this mean to you and how do you hope this is represented?
Embracing equity means that we create an environment at IAS where every employee can realize their full potential. It means we create an inclusive culture that welcomes diverse thoughts and opinions. We consistently strive to attract diverse talent into IAS and invest in DEI in our learning and development programs.
Why is it critical to seek inclusion and equity in the workplace?
A diverse team is a strategic imperative for IAS. Our customers expect that IAS is inclusive and equitable in the workplace.
How do you empower other women in the workplace? What can peers around you do to ensure women feel empowered?
IAS has a female majority board and a diverse SLT. We recently hired Tania Secor as our CFO. I’m a big believer that we “walk the talk” at IAS and demonstrate that diversity and inclusion is part of our DNA. Hiring managers need to ensure that they have diverse pipelines with every candidate that they are hiring for. This is one of the most important steps that my peers can take.
What is something that women – at any stage in their careers – can do or keep in mind as they seek equity in the workplace?
Use your voice and speak up in meetings. Help IAS attract diverse candidates into the company. Join the Women’s ERG and participate in the meetings.