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.
Nina Keinberger has broad-based expertise in digital and television sales, marketing, and research, as well as a solid track record of establishing long-term client relationships and a proven ability to adapt quickly to new technologies, processes, and procedures. She believes you can find much to enjoy in every stage of your career and says: “Using a travel analogy, it isn’t always the destination that matters, but more importantly, the journey to get there.”
Read a Q&A with Nina below.
The following conversation has been lightly edited and condensed.
What qualities are vital in a great leader?
A great leader leads by example: they roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, dig right in, and accept and embody change. Just because someone has a title doesn’t mean they can’t dive in and help the team when someone is overwhelmed.
Even though a leader by nature acts as an authority figure in order to motivate and create a professional environment, they should first and foremost be a mentor. They must also remember to be inclusive, fun, and, most of all, human. We all come to the office with different life stories and no one wants to be treated like a machine, sitting there day after day churning out work; it’s crucial that leaders tap into the person behind that output and get to know their team on a more personal level.
I also think it’s important to encourage the team to take ownership of a project and either present it themselves or, if that’s not possible, they should get the credit, publicly, for their hard efforts.
Why is that credit important?
It’s empowering to let people present their work. It offers visibility and ownership, and really makes them part of the team and not just a worker bee behind the scenes. Of course, I give people time to find their comfort level for speaking in front of a group. For young women, it’s important for their voices to be heard.
What has it been like watching the people who report to you become more comfortable in front of a group?
It must feel like what it’s like to be a mother. As a camp counselor, from age 16 onwards, I always enjoyed teaching, whether it was with volleyball, swimming, or a camp play. I’ve always enjoyed seeing people bloom and flourish.
Researchers tend to be more quiet, behind-the-scenes people, and I’m not that person. If my personableness can be infectious in building confidence in a junior Research team member, then my job is well done.
It’s empowering to let people present their work. It offers visibility and ownership, and really makes them part of the team and not just a worker bee behind the scenes. For young women, it’s important for their voices to be heard.”
In your role, you do a lot of public speaking; how did you get comfortable with that?
As a kid, I wanted to be an actress or rock star like Debbie Harry of Blondie or Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. I was always a performer. That definitely helped with my comfort in public speaking, but a life changer was a mandatory course the sales team took while working at Viacom called Speakeasy. Everyone was videotaped, we all spoke in front of our peers, and received constructive feedback reviewing those tapes – the pointers of which I still use to this day!
What do you think of the opportunities available to women in media today?
Advertising media has a pretty good women-to-men ratio so there is something to praise there. We have come a long way since the days of Mad Men, but a “boys club” mentality can still occur occasionally.
Any business can help things improve by ensuring that women are given as much public praise as their male counterparts for their efforts; are able to speak and be heard as much as men in meetings; and earn equal pay for performing equal duties. Give women time to speak, and back up your words with action.
On an overall observational basis, if someone gets bullied, someone else needs to speak up in order to make change. It takes a lot of voices to create change. And it’s long overdue.
Can you talk about the role of empathy in creating change?
I had a nontraditional upbringing. Having grown up in a multicultural environment, from my neighborhood to schools and summer camp, I’ve always rooted for the underdog. I also value taking your education into your own hands – as a history buff, I looked for information that wasn’t taught in schools about marginalized groups and overlooked events in history. That propelled my empathy as a human, fueled by being a sociology major in college.
Are there any shows, books or otherwise you’ve found inspiring recently?
In recent years I have been obsessed with the Bravo show “Below Deck,” which goes behind the scenes of superyacht and sailing charters with a focus on the crew. That vessel is a microcosm of any work environment. There are strong female leaders on the show, my favorite being Kate, the Chief Steward. Seeing her manage her team is completely engaging and intriguing. The show exposes how experience, rank, respect, work ethic, and professionalism play out on the road to success. As the saying goes, “A good sailor never learned a lesson in calm seas.”
And you also personally enjoy sailing, right?
I sail with friends. My friend is a captain, and we all pitch in, whether it’s dropping anchor, making coffee, cleaning up, cooking or scrubbing the deck. It’s “all hands on deck,” literally. The fact that I can do this with my best friends in the world is amazing. Each person will pitch in for the greater good.
That’s how I think about teams – we’re all trying to get from point A to point B. We all have to make sure the boat has enough water and gas and that we have enough food. Let’s all jump in and make it happen.