The future is female: MoPub interviews (literal) game changers in mobile, tech, advertising, and media for International Women’s Day

March 15, 2021

Tags: Industry Perspectives, 2021

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women's History Month this March, MoPub sat down with some of our incredible female colleagues and partners across ad tech, mobile gaming, and media to learn more about their career paths, their best advice for women entering tech, what it takes to be a quality leader, and more. 

MoPub: What qualities make a great leader? How do you apply those lessons in your leadership role at MoPub? 

Robin Wheeler, Global Head of MoPub: One thing that is important for all budding female leaders to know is that there are many qualities that make a great leader, and you don’t have to possess them all. I used to look at the male bosses I had and think, “hmm, I’m not exactly like them, can I still grow into those positions?” The answer is YES.  Be uniquely you and lean into what makes you a great leader.  

For me, it’s authenticity and accessibility.  Your team wants to know who you are: they want directness, and they want realness.  The more you show them who you are, the more they will bring their true selves to work, and be able to operate at their best.  Accessibility is also critical.  Gone are the days when leaders sit in their ivory towers and rarely interact with their organizations.  It’s imperative to understand firsthand what’s happening with your teams, be on the front lines with them as they engage with customers, and to really get a pulse on how the organization is running by hearing directly from them.  

If you do the authenticity part right, your team will — more often than not — share what’s working and more importantly, what’s not, so that you can do your job and help improve areas that need attention.  Being authentic and accessible can also have an additional, secondary benefit: positive energy.  I find that when I’m with my team, being who I am and being accessible allows me to bring a fresh and upbeat energy to any setting.  This has a halo effect of instilling that same energy in the team.  Energy and positivity go a long way in building businesses.  Happy employees produce better work and have fun doing so.  I bring these qualities to MoPub every day, because after all this time, they are core to who I am and organically surface in how I lead.  Again, be you. There’s nothing more important to leading than being you.

MoPub: What qualities make a great leader?

Nene Kalu Schaffert, Strategic Partner Manager at Facebook Audience Network: When we think of a great leader, we think primarily of someone who acts boldly, decides quickly, and prioritizes relentlessly. While these qualities are all important, great leaders first and foremost should strive to embody curiosity and empathy for their team and organization. You can’t lead and inspire a team that you don’t know. 

MoPub: The International Women’s Day theme for 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge, which highlights the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world. What does this theme mean to you?

Katie Penn, Global Head of Marketing at MoPub: One challenge that I am passionate about debunking is that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) is a man’s thing. There's often a misconception that women lack the skills and aggression needed to succeed in the field. Technology is the future for so many career opportunities, and we need to raise visibility and support women who are challenging this “women-can’t-tech” myth.

This false narrative that is fed to women at an early age turns many women away from STEM. This is especially true in developing countries where women are not given the same educational opportunities or industry role models as their male peers. I participate in a mentorship program called TechWomen that empowers and connects the next generation of women leaders in STEM from Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. Through this global exchange, I have mentored women from Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon, and Zimbabwe and have traveled on delegation trips to Sierra Leone (more on that trip here), and Rwanda.

Being part of this global commitment toward advancing the rights and participation of women and girls around the world has reminded me that we are more similar than we are different. The closer we are connected, the more likely we are to help and fight for each other's rights and dreams.

MoPub: What’s it like to balance your work, motherhood, and remote work right now?

Genelle Hung, Demand Lead, APAC at MoPub: Some days are definitely easier than others! The most challenging part for me hasn’t so much been the remote work (there are definitely perks to working all day in sweatpants), but having to explain to my son and his friends why they can’t hang out as much, or why school isn’t as fun as it used to be, or why he can’t join in every. of my work calls to talk about Minecraft and Legos. 

On the work front, I was really nervous when the travel lockdown took place because I take care of clients around the region here in APAC, and I’m just grateful that clients in APAC have been immensely understanding about how business communication and relationship-building has evolved in the last 12 months. However, on the positive side, this year has given me so much more time at home with my family versus being on the road for approximately a quarter of the time. 

MoPub: What advice would you give to a young female professional entering tech?

Ellinor Klier, Head of Havas Programmatic Hub: Especially in tech and digital, you need to remain curious and excited about the evolution of the world around you. I don’t really believe that women have any sort of disadvantage today in the digital or programmatic field, it’s all about the mindset you bring - that should be adaptable and agile to navigate through the beautiful golden years that are coming up at us.

Nadine Sequeira Sham, Programmatic Demand Lead at MoPub: It’s an amazing time to be entering the tech world, it doesn’t matter your gender! There is no shortage of opportunity and a large supportive community of women in the field to help guide your skill set as well as your mindset. I’m lucky to work at a company that has multiple strong women leaders who serve as mentors for me and demonstrate that hard work and determination can get you where you want.

MoPub: What is the best advice you received early in your career? 

Dora Kuo, Sr. Digital Marketing Manager at MoPub: That advice for me was: “Go for your goal and never be apologetic for it.” It didn’t come to me naturally. I came from a semiconductor background where female leadership role models are rare, just like in many other industries. Not until I joined MoPub did I learn that, as a female professional, I can be assertive, ambitious, and collaborative at the same time. I feel grateful that I have the chance to grow at MoPub and remind myself all the time that I should always speak up, go for my goals, and be proud of being ambitious.

MoPub: How did the game industry evolve around building games for women? Is there such a thing as a game for women?

Beth Anne Smith, Sr. Director of Strategy & Operations at Electronic Arts (EA): Thanks to the growth of mobile gaming, there are as many female gamers as there are male gamers. If we’re smart as an industry, the way we develop games should focus less on whether an individual is female or male and more on personal preferences, needs, and behaviors, all of which transcend one’s sex.

MoPub: Which woman (or women) do you look up to and why?

Mireia Codina, Mediation Partner Manager at MoPub: One of the reasons why I love MoPub so much is because of their strong female leadership. I’m humbled by working with and being surrounded by badass women that are leading the way not only within MoPub but in the whole ad tech ecosystem. Ten years ago, I didn’t think about the ad tech industry as a place for women to thrive, but here we are, yet again, proving that we rule the world! And speaking of ruling the world, I can’t thank Beyoncé enough for lifting us all up when we need to remember how amazing, smart, qualified, and powerful we are.

MoPub: How can we strive to create a better world through our daily jobs?

Sophia Chung, Senior Product Manager at Vungle: I’m a believer in giving back to society.  By giving, may it be your time, your monetary donations, your possessions, your prayers or even a smile to benefit another, you gradually develop altruism and understanding towards others.  Let’s continue to build each other up, support each other’s development and make time to teach and share in our journey.  Together, we can play a role in changing the world to move towards a true equality in all genders, races and ages.

MoPub: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

Zoe Steele, Strategic Publisher Manager at MoPub: International Women's Day means celebrating the moments where we, as women, trust ourselves. CrossInstall and MoPub have given me the opportunity to manage a team and move to Europe, both long standing dreams of mine. I am learning every day how to trust myself to do both.

Ketaki Rao, Chief Product Officer, App Annie: I see International Women's Day as an opportunity to reflect upon and to celebrate the progress we've made towards achieving equality for women. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come in the past few decades alone, and how women are seizing the opportunity to make strides in fields as varied as space travel and politics.

How have you overcome any obstacles in your career path?

Juliane Besler, Marketing Manager at Kolibri Games: I feel like this has often been a case of being at the right place at the right time, to be honest. In other cases, I sat down with friends and family to talk about my situation and evaluate all of my learnings and achievements within the context of those situations. With that in mind, I’ve always found that you are in a much stronger position for anything you want to do as your next step when you have unbiased advice from a trusted advisor.

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