March 8, 2020
#InternationalWomensDay: Empowering Lessons from Women in Advertising
The day is here! Tonight the Metric Theory team, in partnership with Microsoft Advertising, is hosting the Growing Your Voice: Empowering Lessons From Women Leaders panel. In the leadup to the event, we sat down with some of Metric Theory’s women at different levels and from varied backgrounds to learn more about how they came up in their careers. Today we sit down with Metric Theory’s VP of Account Services, Brittany Blanchard. Brittany mentors, coaches, and develops the marketers that make up Metric Theory (there are over 100 of us!) while maintaining close partnerships with all our advertisers to ensure strong client outcomes. One of our favorite facts to share about Brittany is her passion for hiking and backpacking – she’s summited 42 of Colorado’s 53 14,000-foot peaks! To learn more about Brittany’s path to VP, read on!
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came up in your career. What was it that got you interested in pursuing a career in marketing?
I majored in math & economics in college, and when I graduated at the height of the recession in 2009, my only job offer was with an executive compensation consulting firm in LA I had previously interned at. After 2 ½ years there, I moved to Denver with my now-husband, and got a job doing strategy and analysis for a large publicly-traded information company. The team I joined was new and largely directionless, and I was extremely bored. I met Nadine Fuller through Colorado Youth at Risk, a volunteer mentoring program we were both involved in. She had also just moved to Colorado from California, and we bonded. I was complaining about my job over drinks at a happy hour when it seemed to click for her that my background would be a good fit for digital marketing. She shared that she was opening a Denver operation for a start-up paid search agency called Metric Theory, and I was immediately interested. I proceeded to be a very difficult job candidate, asking tons of questions (some of which Nadine answered from vacation in Germany!), but ultimately decided to take an entry level role and a substantial pay cut to start my career over in digital marketing. I thought the opportunity would pay off, and it has!
Do you feel like your first job, while not in the field you ultimately ended up in, helped shape your trajectory up to this day?
That job helped me SO MUCH! It was brutal, and I often worked 60-80 hours per week to meet last-minute deadlines, but I owe a lot to my 2 ½ years there. I learned all my Excel skills there, which have served me extremely well. I also learned client services and how to speak to C-suite executives and boards of directors very early in my career. Although it was a niche area of consulting, I also had a lot of exposure to general business, like financial statements, DEF-14A proxy filings, and shareholder voting. I am 100% confident I would not be where I am today without my time there, and I’m grateful for the people there who mentored and pushed me.
Working at a job like that where you have to grind made me appreciate the much more balanced demands of my job today. Also, working in executive compensation made me realize that no matter how much money someone makes, they’re never satisfied, which was a freeing realization to have early in my career that helped me to pursue good fits instead of just higher compensation.
What was your support system like as you advanced in your career? Did you have a particular role model?
My husband and I worked at the same company in our first jobs out of college, so he’s been right there supporting me in my career every step of the way (in some cases literally working side by side with me). My dad has also been a role model for me my entire life, and when I got the opportunity to join Metric Theory in an entry level position very early in the company’s growth, I expected him to be conservative and advise against it. Instead he encouraged me to take a risk on a great opportunity and he’s been very supportive of my career path ever since.
As a working mom, I have a robust support system. My husband is the cornerstone of that because we take equal roles in parenting to support both our careers, but my mom also travels to Denver to watch my son when I have longer work trips, which puts my mind at ease that my baby is in good hands. I also have a small but very strong & supportive group of mom coworkers who offer emotional support in balancing my family and career.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My days usually involve a lot of meetings. I meet weekly with my direct reports, each of whom have at least 5 people and a robust portfolio of clients rolling up to them. I’m frequently hopping on calls with clients to discuss contracts or major strategic shifts, offer support on trickier conversations, or get feedback for our team. When I’m not in meetings, I’m trying to keep up with my inbox and meet deliverables on internal projects, performance reviews, career pathing, etc.
I recently read a book that recommended you have a to-do list of 3 and only 3 items each day. It helps to focus your day and ensure that you get the absolute most important things done. I haven’t been great about implementing this yet, but on the days that I have, it’s been extremely helpful.
What steps do you take to ensure you are always learning and improving in your job?
I think the two most important things here are 1) ask for new opportunities, and 2) ask for feedback. Both of these are within my control, and I believe that continuing to be challenged and grow is largely dependent on me and my choices. As an example, I recently asked my manager if I could pitch a referral prospect, something that he would typically have done. He told me to go for it and I learned a ton in the process (and we landed the client!). I also participated in larger meetings with members of our c-suite recently, and I asked each of them for feedback on how I can improve in the future. Opportunities and feedback won’t always be handed to you, but if you ask for them, you’re guaranteed to get more than if you hadn’t asked.
Do you have any creative outlets, or something outside of your job that helps you balance your work?
My husband and I love the outdoors, and we’re big hikers and skiers. Any weekend I can spend in the mountains is a weekend well spent. We also cook dinner almost every night, which we really enjoy as a bonding activity and a healthier alternative to take-out. Whereas our active lifestyle took a hit once we had a baby, we managed to keep cooking dinner a priority and that’s always a nice outlet at the end of the work day.
How do you achieve work-life balance, especially with a family?
This is really hard, and the answer is going to be different for every single person. What works for one is unlikely to work for another. For me, my husband and I plan ahead and keep our home responsibilities as equal as possible. Everything from dishes to packing our son’s lunch and bath time are equally shared. We also looked for tasks that we don’t enjoy and are willing to outsource. We have a housekeeping service that comes biweekly, and we always order our groceries online and pay a small fee for my husband to pick them up on his way home. I leave work each day much earlier than I used to so I can have some time with my son before his bed time, but I make up for that by being available on Slack after I leave work. Since having a child I feel like work-life balance is less about establishing firm boundaries between work and life, and more about granting myself the grace and flexibility to meet my responsibilities to both, sometimes simultaneously.
What advice do you wish you could go back and give yourself in your early 20s?
That’s a tough one because I think I worked far too hard in my early 20’s and ran myself ragged, but I also learned so much from that experience. To that end, I think I would have advised myself to take better care of myself – get more sleep, practice self-care, and make healthier choices. I had so much freedom then that I took for granted!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve gotten a lot of great advice over the years, from my managers, mentors, or even great books I’ve read. One thing that’s stuck with me was a mentor who advised me to think of my job as a chess game. In the context of what I was dealing with at the time, that helped me to distance myself personally from the challenges I was facing, think long-term, and consider all pieces on the board available to me rather than just the one in question. I still often remind myself to play chess.
Alternatively, what is the worst or least helpful advice that you’ve been given throughout your career?
At one point at my first job, I expressed to leadership how overwhelmed I felt and that I was completely burning out. I used the fact that I didn’t even have time to keep my bathroom clean as an example of how many hours I was working and how it was impacting my life. The partner I was speaking to (a woman) responded that it was “perfectly acceptable to hire someone to clean my house.” I was a 23 year old barely scraping by in LA. Not only was this not helpful, it also showed me how out of touch she was with my situation and that she wasn’t going to be able to help. Sadly I felt that moment shut the door on any potential mentorship from her.
Any advice for effective negotiating?
I once received fantastic negotiation advice, which was to have a very clear core value behind your ask. If you’re negotiating compensation package for a new job, know whether your concern is cash flow, long-term compensation, growth opportunity, etc. The request for salary vs. a signing bonus vs. a stock grant all convey different values, and asking for multiple undermines your request. If you feel like you are invested in the long term success of your company and want to share in that success, ask for stock or options. If your request is initially denied, don’t ask for a salary increase instead, because that undermines the original intent behind your ask.
A simple example of this in action was when I recently traveled to Las Vegas with my baby. The hotel didn’t deliver the crib to our room for several hours after we arrived despite it being very late. Once I got a hold of management, they asked how they could make it right. If I asked for free brunch, that would be nice but wouldn’t align with my core value, which was making traveling with a baby easier. Instead, I asked for a late checkout to allow my child to sleep longer, and I received my request.
What additional advice, if any, would you give a woman looking to lead?
To the extent possible, don’t think of yourself as a woman leader, but a leader. You’re not a woman manager, you’re a manager. Of course there’s still an obligation to support and uplift other women in the workplace, but when it comes to doing your job, put yourself on the same footing you view everyone around you. If you find yourself in a situation that doesn’t allow yourself to think in those terms, then find strong women mentors who can support you and offer guidance on navigating those challenges.