Scenic Advisement: Behind every good sponsor, there is another great sponsor
It’s hard to think that we’re almost halfway through 2019. It’s at this time of year we need to take a moment and look back at what we’ve learned and how we’ve grown. What lessons can we put into action for the rest of the year?
When I look at my own career and my own successes, I am grateful to the mentors and sponsors who have had an immense impact on where I am today. As I’ve climbed the career ladder, I’ve taken on this critical role of sponsorship, and have taken great pride in working with some of the finest talents in the finance and investment space.
So what is sponsoring and how does it differ from mentoring?
Sponsoring is actually putting one’s personal capital behind another, advocating for them, helping to forward their careers in a very active and accountable way. Mentoring sets along the same path, but it is less formalized and, as such, possibly less successful. Sponsoring is, by definition, formal to ensure corporate commitment and consistency. And this formality has been shown to lead to success in advancing diversity, as illustrated by the fact that every one of the top 50 companies celebrated Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity had adopted formal programs.
When I started out in finance, I was very lucky to work with people who listened to me, shared their knowledge and skills. With such strong female (and male) role models, even in a time before women's and diversity initiatives made the headlines, I knew firsthand thanks to my mentors and sponsors, what a good career working in investment could be, and especially for a woman and somebody in the minority. While I was fortunate enough to have been mentored by some of the industry’s finest, I wanted to ensure that the next wave of talent was afforded the same support. That said, as my career progressed I learned that being a sponsor is no easy task, it’s a commitment that requires a pure conviction. It requires putting your personal capital at risk.
You might think that sponsors are just for young people - those who have just finished school or are starting in their first jobs. While having a sponsor at that stage of life is invaluable, it’s just as important for those that are years into their careers, and even those that are at the top of their game. Finding success in today’s competitive world, whatever the industry, means taking advantage of every opportunity available to you -- in the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “nobody can succeed on their own.”
Steve Jobs had Ed Woolard and John Sculley. Bob Iger credits his former boss Tom Murphy not only with his success at Walt Disney but also for having inspired the program he introduced that pairs top Disney executives with leading tech start-up CEOs.
I believe the next step for corporations is to fully embrace sponsoring.
I was once told that women have to work twice as hard to get half the way. If true, being a minority woman has meant that I’ve hard to work even harder. It is certainly true that I have come as far as I have today because I have been guided by many inspiring “giants.” I echo Issac Newton’s sentiment that “...I have seen further than others...by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”
Behind every good sponsor, there is another great sponsor. My goal is to inspire as I have been inspired. I am determined to see more women and minorities managing money in finance. And I aim to play my part in this by working with talented people as a sponsor. I am also working with companies to help them create and adopt formal sponsorship programs to institutionalize this commitment.
So when you're thinking about your goals for the rest of the year, please join me in identifying talent and backing them with your personal capital by becoming a sponsor. And please encourage your company to institute formal programs, so you can scale your efforts and make this a part of your company’s culture.
Jane Leung is the Chief Investment Officer at Scenic Advisement, a leading investment bank focused on secondary and primary capital raises for leading private companies, headquartered in San Francisco.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.