March 8, 2020
#InternationalWomensDay: Empowering Lessons from Women in Advertising
We are keeping the Women in Leadership Interview Series going this week by sitting down with Megan Beatty, an Associate Director of Account Services at Metric Theory. Leading both search and social accounts, Megan tackles our clients’ toughest challenges at all touchpoints of the customer journey. Her strong background in mathematics and enthusiasm for data-driven results is evident in her full-funnel strategies. Megan thrives in the fast-paced, dynamic environment that is digital marketing, and her love of working with people shines through her collaborations with Metric Theory team members and clients alike. She is also passionate about using digital marketing to support social and environmental change and has a leading role for our nonprofit partnership program, MT Gives. Read Megan’s interview to hear more about her career path and how she continually challenges herself to grow at Metric Theory.
Let’s talk a little bit about your background and how you came up in your career and even before that a little bit. What was it that got you interested in pursuing a career in marketing?
I never took a marketing or business class and never aimed to end up in advertising (I had to Google “what is ROI” in the interview!). I was evaluating what I wanted my next step to be, and I knew I wanted something fast paced, quickly changing, people-focused, and data-heavy. As I researched industries that checked all those boxes, digital advertising quickly rose to the top.
What was your first job out of college? Do you feel like that job helped shape your trajectory up to this day, either by ruling out any career paths or helping you realize this is what you wanted to do?
My first job out of college was working full time at a whitewater rafting company, the furthest thing from a desk job you could imagine. As different as it seems like it is from advertising, it did help clarify a few things about the type of role I love. I love working with people. I love high pressure, quickly moving situations. I love the satisfaction of working hard at something and succeeding. It didn’t necessarily rule out (or in) any industry, but it definitely locked in the type of pace and stakes I like to work with.
You are an Associate Director at Metric Theory – do you feel like you’ve made it?
Never! The more I learn, the more aware I become of how many things I don’t know and how high the ceiling of improvement really is. When I think of “arrive”, I think of being tapped out, not challenged, not able to get any better — I don’t think I’ll ever get to that spot, and I don’t think I’d ever want to.
Were there moments in your career where you felt you might want to do something different?
Always! This world is so full of options and adventure that I’m pretty sure that advertising isn’t the only thing I’ll ever do. I’ve thought about working at nonprofits, I’ve considered going to law school, I’ve thought about dropping out of corporate America and living off the grid in the mountains or jungle. For me, it always comes back to what allows me to work with a team I’m passionate about and what pushes me to continue growing.
What does a typical day look like for you? If day to day varies greatly, is there any one thing that you make sure to do every single day?
Every day is different (part of why I love working in advertising), but the common thread is my people. My team is always the number one priority every day, so making sure they’re supported and heard and set up for success is something I always try to spend time on.
What steps do you take to ensure you are always learning and improving in your job?
Listen and lurk and ask for feedback. This industry moves so quickly and I’m surrounded by incredibly competent people, so there’s so much to learn from if I just listen. I lurk on all the help Slack channels, I subscribe to digital advertising newsletters, I read the Hustle every day, I read every cool deck that my colleagues slack through, I join every training I can. If a colleague had eyes on something I did, I always ask for feedback to get their gauge on what could be better. I also try not to stay married to “what worked last year” – I’m always testing and retesting and tweaking to make sure I’m evolving along with the space.
Do you have any creative outlets, or something outside of your job that helps you balance your work?
I love being in nature and getting out of the go-go-go, data-oriented world I live in during the week. Rock climbing, hot yoga, backpacking, learning music and reading outdoors in the sunshine are the top ways I love to spend my time.
If you could go back and talk to yourself in her early 20’s, what advice would you give her?
Root into your own agency and maintain an internal locus of control. Keeping perspective, having the ability to learn and improve, and the ability to solve problems and move forward are all within my control, more than anyone or anything else. Taking ownership over my choices and my momentum — in both the successes and mistakes — is so, so important.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“You’re not as great as you think you are — don’t forget that everyone’s replaceable, including you.” Before you recoil in horror at such an insensitive comment, let me add that this was delivered with a ton of love and support from someone who is very much in my corner. It was one of the most helpful things I could have heard because it dissolved some budding ego and made sure I stayed humble, which is critically important to continued growth. Plus it takes off any and all pressure! Way less stress involved when I remember that it’s not all on me.
When you have engaged in negotiations in your career in the past (whether it was salary negotiation, client-facing negotiation, or negotiations between your colleagues), have you ever feared coming off as pushy or unlikeable or even that there would be repercussions for negotiating as a woman?
Have I thought about it or expected it? Absolutely. Have I feared it? Nah. It’s up to me to bring my direct, honest, competent, compassionate self to the table, and if someone is going to choose to misinterpret that, then that’s not in my control. I’m not going to let fear result in limits for myself – I’m going to try my best and be direct regardless.
Have you ever purposely held back from something (sharing your opinion, reaching for a certain type of job, etc) because you think you would be rejected for being female?
I actually don’t think I have. There have been times I’ve waffled and considered it, but I’m blessed to have an incredibly empowering community that builds me up every time and points me back to my skills and merit. And hey – once or twice, being female has been held as a limiting criteria between me and some opportunity. Just fuels the fire to lean in even more.
Any advice for effective negotiating?
Know your value and don’t compare – proving your intrinsic value is going to be a more productive conversation than pointing at someone else as proof you deserve that too. Have a track record of success before you open the negotiation conversation – it’s way easier to discuss a foundation of proven performance than hypothetical performance. Know what you want – have a specific ask ready, don’t just surface a vague desire for more without numbers behind what you want. And lastly, don’t be overly focused on salary. Salary is only one piece of the total compensation pie — take into account everything from benefits to time off to culture to make sure you’re advocating for a total package you’re excited about.
What additional advice, if any, would you give a woman looking to lead?
Surround yourself with people who will keep you humble and be as excited for your growth as you are. Invest time in knowing yourself and being honest with yourself about what brings you life and where you want to go. And choose to be positive and optimistic — this world is too full of potential and possibility to not be stoked on it!