March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate women’s contributions and achievements in different fields and spheres of life.
Ad tech is still a mostly male industry, but there are more conversations than ever around critical issues to the empowerment of women at work, including opening doors and access for women early in their careers so they can progress to C-suite; supporting women to choose and stay with STEM careers; and helping women achieve a work-life balance.
This month at Cadent, we’re profiling women who are leaders in their departments, asking about their career journeys, approaches to growth and mentorship, and their philosophies on leading others.
Alex Grier, Senior Director of Broadcast Media Buying, has been with Cadent for nearly four years, and in that time, she has seen the department evolve and expand rapidly as a more strategic partner to the Cadent Sales team.
As a manager, Alex advocates presenting your human side to employees and striking a balance of support with constructive criticism. “It’s important that people feel heard, whether you agree or not,” Alex said.
In her role negotiating with Broadcast inventory partners, honesty is key, she said, adding, “All you have in this business is your word. Whether it’s with your team or your external partners, I strive to be fair so everyone involved knows they’re dealing with a person who is going to try to find a middle ground where we both win, as much as we possibly can.”
Read a Q&A with Alex below.
The following conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.
What does your day-to-day look like?
On a daily basis, I lead a team of 11 amazing people. It’s a really great, trusting, “we all have each other’s back” type of team.
I’m proud to come in every day and work with them. Every day, we’re securing media on a local level for our clients and trying to get the best deals out there for our business.
My job is to be there for our internal and external partners, stakeholders and my team when they have questions and need answers. I encourage my team to be very solution-based. Like, “Here is the issue, and here are some suggestions I have to resolve this.” It’s always helpful, in business and in life, too, when people are more solution-based.
What’s your approach to learning new skills?
At Cadent, the business has evolved so much since I started here. I basically had to bring in my whole medical kit when I came onboard, prepared to educate and create processes because the business had just been brought in-house at Cadent, but it was fun and I enjoyed it. Learning new things makes the day go fast, and I love teaching and showing people things if they really seem interested. Their interest is important – I don’t try to force knowledge on people if they don’t want to hear it.
Can you talk about your team and how you relate to each person?
There’s always more to learn. My team has said I’m relatable, and that’s because I’m still just me. Even with a title next to my name, I’m still just a person who wants to learn things the same as you, who wants to figure out how to build things together. If someone does something great, I want them to be acknowledged for that the same way as a person, I would want to be acknowledged for that.
Is there a particular person you’ve worked with in the past who had a big impact on you?
Yes, a previous manager. She was the person who mentored me and cultured me and helped me learn this media world. What I took from that experience is, if you see that people have talent or that they’re hard workers and they want to try and learn, you should definitely invest in them. It’s never a waste of time to invest.
To this day, when I hear someone say, “Oh my gosh, I remember when you taught me this,” it’s the most rewarding feeling in the world.
Do you have a favorite book, movie or piece of music that has inspired your journey as a leader?
I really loved “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” It’s about a Black woman in 1951 whose cells were taken, unbeknownst to her, and harvested in the lab. It created the HeLa cell line. HeLa, for Henrietta Lacks. It’s a beautiful and a sad story.
It makes me think of the contributions of Black women – even when they don’t even realize they’re contributing – and just how difficult it can be as a person of color, just people not understanding or treating you the same. That’s what I love about the book, knowing her contributions and knowing that we have all these different cures for cancer, just based on studying her cells.
What makes a successful leader?
If you can make someone else better, that shows you’re successful. Regardless of how people see you, envision you, whatever doubts they try to cast on you.
You’re not always going to get credit. Rely on knowing what you did was good or great. And don’t worry about naysayers or looking for that kind of outside gratitude. I don’t look for the accolades from the outside. If they come, I’m very appreciative because I know it’s hard for people to say, “Thank you, you did a great job.” That’s what makes me say thank you even more to my team.