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Lotame Women Putting Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

February 13, 2017

In 1986, “The Wall Street Journal” introduced the concept of the “Glass Ceiling”, which represents the idea that women, no matter how hard they try, struggle to climb the corporate ladder relative to their male counterparts and colleagues.  The idea implies that a transparent barrier, known as a glass ceiling, blocked women from climbing the corporate ladder, despite having equal or superior experience and qualifications. This proves evident in the AdTech industry, where only 2.9% of CEOs are women and only 10% are executives. While women have come a long way since 1986, the glass ceiling still proves to have a huge impact in the prevention of females reaching the upper rungs of the corporate ladder.

We at Lotame are well aware of this concept, and no one in technology can ignore the gender gap in our industry. However, we also celebrate our female leaders and employees alike. To honor them, this is the first of many interviews designed to highlight our female thought leaders at Lotame.

This week, I had the pleasure of interviewing two of Lotame’s executives and leading ladies, Tiffany Morris, General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer and Megan McKenna, Vice President of Marketing. These two women have proven that things are changing and the artificial barriers that once blocked women from advancing up the corporate ladder are slowly, but SURELY, coming to an end.

Haley: Tell me about what you were doing prior to joining Lotame.

Tiffany: Prior to Lotame, I was working for Vox Media, a growing media company that was in just the beginning phases. I was brought to Lotame by a former co-worker who said I would love the environment and how they were quickly emerging in the AdTech space. I have been here for two and a half years, and have absolutely loved it.

Megan: Before I started with Lotame, I was working for CBS Local Digital Media Group in New York. We oversaw over 100 owned and operated radio and tv station websites. My role was Director of Product Marketing but, being an incredibly small group, we supported all things marketing for the division.

Haley: How did the environment at your old job differ from that of Lotame’s?

Tiffany: My previous company, Vox Media, was in some ways a lot like Lotame, because of the start-up vibe that came along with it. Although the environment may have had a lot of the same qualities, the work I do for Lotame is a lot different. Lotame is very tech-driven, while Vox Media was really a media company.

Megan: Before joining Lotame, I never really heard much about them, because I didn’t play a huge role in the advertising technology industry. When I came in for my interview, I met a bunch of different team members, and realized how amazing the Lotame environment really was. The environment at CBS was completely different; I worked in a small division of 120 people, but it still had a very corporate feel to it. Prior to that, I worked at Seamless.com, which was a small start-up at the time as well, and that is where I realized that I loved smaller companies and the energy that comes along with the startup world.

Haley: What are some key differences that you see between men and women in the workplace, if any, on a day to day basis?

Tiffany: I do strongly believe that men and women (to make broad generalizations) communicate differently, and there is value to having teams of mixed gender.  Lotame has benefitted from the inclusion of more women in management roles, as most companies do.

Megan: Within the past year, our marketing team has grown from a team of 2 to a team of 9, and 6 of us are women. Beyond my team, I’ve seen an increase of women in the workplace not only at Lotame, but in AdTech overall. One of the amazing things about working at Lotame is it’s a great place to make sure that your voice is heard, no matter your gender.

Haley: Can you explain your style of management?

Tiffany: I am a big believer in 1 on 1’s on a weekly basis and providing good feedback on a daily basis. I think it is hard for other people within the organization to understand what your employees are doing on a daily basis (particularly in a corporate function like legal), so it is always nice to give that feedback or praise. If you do choose to give feedback on a day to day basis instead of once every quarter, it isn’t as disruptive when you need to provide constructive feedback on a certain issue or skillset.

Megan: I manage the Marketing team, which consists of nine different team members, each with very different/specific roles in the company. I have very high expectations for myself, and that, in turn, translates to having high expectations of the people that I work with, specifically the members of my team. As long as my team members are living up to those expectations, I am not a micromanager. I trust them to get their work done and to do so at the best of their abilities.

As a manager, I try and empower my team to take responsibility and give credit where it is due. A lot of my day is just dedicated to giving approvals internally or feedback where necessary, all the while, focusing on what I need get done externally. Because I’m often times stretched thin, I don’t think I devote enough time to career development for my team members; it’s something I hope to focus on in 2017.

Haley: What piece of advice would you give to women in management roles?

Tiffany: If you are in a male dominated position (as I have been, having worked in both tech and professional sports), or in a management role and you are a woman, you are probably going to be held to a higher standard.  My number one piece of advice is to know the business. A lot of people will expect that you won’t, so prove them wrong. Don’t give people a reason to doubt your skill set.  Always be on top of your game, and understand how it is played, because the more you know, the more you will be respected. When I first joined Lotame, I spent my first 30 days just learning the in’s and out’s of the AdTech industry. It was a big ramp-up, but it really goes a long way. If you are engaged and learning quickly, you will be able to gain that respect.

Megan: Stemming from that, in any tech-minded position, don’t be intimidated. It is such a constantly changing, evolving space. You are never going to know everything that is going on. For example, when I joined Lotame I had so much to learn since I did not have prior AdTech experience, but I tried – and still try – to be a sponge and absorb as much as I could and can from the smart people I work with and industry trends and reports. Had I been intimidated and not open to learning quickly from the start, I wouldn’t have been able to move up to my role as VP of Marketing.

Haley: Have you adopted any management styles from a previous boss or manager?

Tiffany: That is a really good question. I had a boss who could frame things in a way that would always make you want to help in any way, no matter the project. By putting someone’s work in perspective, and having a way of showing how it will help a bigger goal or objective, I found that team members would be more open and collaborative. On the other hand, some of my bosses were not very transparent with their team, and their objectives were cloudy. Nobody ever knew where they were or if they even were working. Learning from that, I am really big on transparency in a team environment, and in a managerial position. You can learn a lot from both good and bad managers.  

Megan: I have had a lot of good people that I worked for from both ends of the spectrum.  I had a boss who ran our team like a dictator. He had zero strategy, never collaborated, and did not appreciate feedback. Learning from his managing mistakes, I think that one of the things that I pride myself on as a manager is my collaborative style. I respect feedback, encourage it even. I had other bosses who were very hands on. They brought me into any and all meetings and they really helped me develop as a marketer. I believe that having a collaborative, inclusive environment will help with the career development for each of my team members. I want them to learn as much and as quickly as possible. It will definitely help them in the long run.

Haley: What would you say is the biggest obstacle that you have met head on in the AdTech industry or in your role here at Lotame?

Tiffany: My entire experience in tech has been fast-paced. The velocity of innovation and company demands is always changing. One of the challenges of being a lawyer, and one of the reasons that lawyers are notorious for being stressed, is that you are expected to be 100% right, 100% of the time. Lawyers are held to a different standard than most other positions.  We are called upon to provide yes/no; black/white decisions. Decisions need to made very quickly, and that is always challenging.

Megan:  We have many solutions that make our company so fantastic; but from a marketer’s perspective, it is hard to make noise about each of these things in a way that is sound, especially on a budget.  New updates are always popping up, so the marketing team has be as flexible and adaptable as possible. Being able to pivot quickly, and stay ahead of the game is a huge challenge, but that is the AdTech industry, and the Lotame marketing team has done an exceptional job of meeting that challenge.

Haley: Where do you see the AdTech industry in the next 5-10 years?

Tiffany:  We are already seeing a lot of consolidation happen, and I think that will continue.  It is difficult to keep pace, long-term, as an independent company, and so I think you are going to see consolidation under the names we all know. Which then raises a lot of interesting points around data, because we are going to move to a world where 4-5 companies house EVERYBODY’s data.

Megan: There are also going to be significant privacy changes all over the world surrounding the collection of data. It is our job, as a Data Management Platform, to stay on top of these changes and make sure our business stays aligned.