Cultivate resilience: You’re going to encounter adversity; it’s a simple fact of life. It takes a long time to drive change and make an impact, and over that time, you’ll encounter moments where you are filled with hope and motivation. This is almost always how people feel at the beginning of something big. You’ll also have moments when you can no longer see the starting line in your rearview, but the finish line is too far away to see clearly. Cultivate resilience to help you through the tough middle part of the course.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda Runner, Glassdoor’s senior vice president of marketing. She leads Glassdoor’s marketing efforts, overseeing B2B marketing, consumer marketing, product marketing, and marketing operations. Amanda brings 15 years of experience in business operations, business development, strategy, and marketing. Before joining Glassdoor in 2017, she managed consulting teams at Bain & Company and earlier in her career, held roles at Zagat and Goldman Sachs. She holds a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern University.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Amanda! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was not predestined to lead a marketing organization, and my path here was relatively non-traditional. In undergrad, I studied economics, with the intention of pursuing a career in business after school. After graduating, I joined a strategy consulting firm, Bain & Company, and spent nearly a decade advising companies on growth strategy and go-to-market strategy. My work spanned retail, healthcare, and industrial goods, but always in partnership with sales and marketing teams.
Late in my consulting career, I had the opportunity to lead teams in developing the go-to-market launch plans for two breakthrough specialty pharmaceuticals. These were pivotal experiences in my career, where the work was challenging and also doing good in the world. From then, I realized that to be happiest and most fulfilled in my job, I had to work on problems that could change the world for good.
I joined Glassdoor for the opportunity to work on an interesting business challenge, while also contributing to a mission focused on doing good. After some time as a business operations partner to marketing, I stepped into a role leading B2B marketing, and most recently, stepped up to lead all of marketing.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I’ve been at Glassdoor through many interesting times, including our acquisition by Recruit Holdings and our recent partnership with our sister company Indeed to work together within sales and customer support to streamline the customer experience, while leveraging the unique strengths of each platform.
What made this interesting is the way in which we’ve maintained independence and forged a novel relationship with Indeed. At the start, the acquisition raised questions among our teams about our autonomy going forward and how much we’d be able to chart our own path. Over the years, it’s been remarkable to see how we’ve maintained independence in setting our own strategy, and I’ve taken with me many leadership lessons related to leading through change and uncertainty.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started out in consulting, I traveled each week from Chicago to New Orleans. After the first few months of travel, I started to get very confident about the amount of time it took to get to the airport on Monday mornings. One Monday, confident that I knew just how much time I needed to make my flight, I cut my departure time very close, and sure enough, traffic was heavier than usual. I ended up missing my flight and having to take the next one later that day.
Luckily, it was a light day and I didn’t miss any critical meetings, but I felt foolish and was so worried that I’d get in big trouble. I was mortified, and I stressed about it until I finally arrived in New Orleans later that afternoon. In the end, I learned two valuable lessons. First, I learned to always budget plenty of travel time. Second, I learned how to problem solve under pressure and to manage my stress in line with how serious a problem truly is.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Glassdoor is remarkable in the way we live our values. Our mission is to help people everywhere find a job and company they love. We believe deeply in the power of workplace transparency to create better, more equitable opportunities for all.
As a company, this belief guides our product experience and areas of new product development. As an employer, this belief resonates in the way we treat employees. Having experienced many other organizations earlier in my career, I believe we are uniquely transparent in what we share internally with employees. We regularly share company performance updates. We publish data on our own diversity and pay equity statistics and declare ambitious goals to drive change. We are open and transparent about the feedback we receive in our regular internal employee engagement surveys, and we openly share initiatives we’re pursuing in response to the feedback.
At the core, this level of transparency contributes to a high trust, low politics culture where teams can focus on doing great work, free from distraction.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
There are many exciting new projects underway at Glassdoor, some dedicated to expanding workplace transparency for job seekers. These features will enhance the job seeker experience on Glassdoor and help more people find opportunities they can love. In addition, though, we believe these features can be a catalyst for long-lasting, positive change in workplace equity and employee experience. As a leader, that’s inspiring because we can take pride in both our business success as well as the good we’re doing in the world.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Role clarity is critical for team and individual success. Any leader should work hard to ensure that teams and individuals have clearly-defined, distinct roles and responsibilities. This empowers teams and individuals with ownership, allows them to work autonomously day-to-day, and clarifies which cross-functional partners to engage. All of these things contribute significantly to employee fulfillment and engagement.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
This advice applies to any leader because it’s absolutely vital. The most important thing you can do as a leader, of any team, but especially large teams, is to communicate clearly and often.
Put simply, a leader’s job is to get individuals, acting independently, to work toward a common purpose, and to do so in the most efficient and effective way possible. I think of my job, as a leader of large teams, as having two critical facets: setting the compelling vision of the destination we are all rowing toward and repeatedly communicating this vision, how we’re organizing to get there, and the role I need each individual or team to play. This provides context for how individual work fits into the bigger picture and why that work is important. Critically, frequent communication gives individuals the context to act autonomously and make day-to-day decisions in support of the end goal.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors throughout my career who’ve taken a personal interest in my professional development. These leaders had a significant influence on my learning and access to opportunities to grow and lead.
I spent the early part of my career in strategy consulting, which functions on an apprenticeship model of learning and development. New hires work closely with more experienced consultants as they pick up the critical hard skills of the job; as they gain skills and competencies, they begin to take on more and more independent workstreams. In this environment, I learned innumerable lessons from managers and team leaders who helped me frame up the work I needed to do, lay out a clear approach, and manage a work plan to complete the deliverables on time.
I learned many lessons, big and small, along the way, and I’m immensely grateful for the managers who helped me find opportunities to stretch beyond my comfort zone and develop new skills.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
As I’ve reached a position of leadership in my career, I’ve gained significant fulfillment from helping others find opportunities for career growth. I had many strong female role models early in my career who helped me cultivate my voice as a business leader, and I try to pass that on.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Use your voice: Early in my career, I was a young person advising business leaders with more experience than me. Initially, I felt some imposter syndrome, reluctant to speak up and share my perspectives. Over time, I realized that my clients were counting on me to share the knowledge I’d accumulated. While self-awareness and humility are healthy and important, when you’ve done the work and have something to contribute, it’s vital that you speak up and share your unique point of view.
- Stay curious: I believe that we are perpetual students, and that we can develop tremendous knowledge throughout our lives if we stay curious and ask questions. There is no better way to learn from the experience of others and accelerate your learning than to stay in a growth mindset.
- Do the right thing: At some point, in business and in life, your values will be tested. Get clear on your values early on, and stay true to them. Act with integrity and do the right thing, always, even if you think others are not watching. As a leader, someone is always watching, looking up to you, and they will take their cues from your actions as much as your words.
- Cultivate resilience: You’re going to encounter adversity; it’s a simple fact of life. It takes a long time to drive change and make an impact, and over that time, you’ll encounter moments where you are filled with hope and motivation. This is almost always how people feel at the beginning of something big. You’ll also have moments when you can no longer see the starting line in your rearview, but the finish line is too far away to see clearly. Cultivate resilience to help you through the tough middle part of the course.
- Recognize those who’ve helped you: We rarely get anywhere alone, and it’s almost always more fun to be on the journey with others. Remember to recognize those who’ve helped you get where you’re going.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is unrelated to my current role and company, but I have a wish for more compassion and connection in our society. For some time, it has felt that we’re getting poorer and poorer as a society at listening to, relating to, and having compassion for the concerns and challenges of others in different circumstances than our own. It seems easier every day to live life in an echo chamber where one only encounters ideas that reinforce their already firmly held beliefs.
I wish for a movement where individuals actively work to engage with and understand the concerns and challenges of others in their community. I think greater understanding and compassion could go a long way in addressing the challenge we face as a society.
Can you please give us your favorite. “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My family motto might as well be: Work hard and be kind. While I cannot recall my parents ever saying those exact words to me, the lessons were deeply ingrained throughout my upbringing.
I grew up on my family’s farm in Central Illinois, where I learned a lot about work ethic and grit. On a typical day on the farm, there were often projects that I was excited to do and chores I’d rather skip, but all of the work was essential to ensure things ran smoothly. Here I learned how to push through the short-term discomfort of work I didn’t want to do in service of a bigger goal.
These lessons apply to my life today. Often, projects are exciting at the beginning, when you’re motivated by the challenge set before you, and exciting near the end, when you’re rewarded with a sense of accomplishment for having finished something challenging. But there can also be a difficult middle part, when the beginning has long passed and the finish line seems far away. In these moments, one must focus on the bigger goal in order to push through the difficult middle. This requires grit and resilience.
From an early age, my mom instilled the notion that kindness costs nothing and that there is joy in helping others. This has carried through my life as a bias toward teamwork and commitment to shared goals.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
There are so many…honestly, it’s so hard to choose. If I had to pick just one, I’d love to have lunch with Conan O’Brien. I’m a huge comedy nerd, but I also admire Conan for the adversities he’s overcome in his career. On his podcast, Conan occasionally talks about the imposter syndrome he felt early in his late-night career and the resilience it took to make it through his departure from NBC. I’m impressed with the work he’s put into personal growth, and I’d love to learn more about how he navigated the moments in his life when his confidence was most tested.
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