Carla D’Alessandro of IPIC Entertainment: “Women who feel empowered, empower other women”

Women who feel empowered, empower other women. As a leader, listening to other women and their unique experiences in the corporate world is critical as many obstacles are unique and warrant special attention. One size does not fit all. As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla […]

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Women who feel empowered, empower other women. As a leader, listening to other women and their unique experiences in the corporate world is critical as many obstacles are unique and warrant special attention. One size does not fit all.

As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carla D’Alessandro, Chief Marketing Officer, IPIC® Entertainment. Carla brings her diverse knowledge of omnichannel marketing and digital-first strategies to the CMO role at IPIC, previously holding the position of Senior Vice President, Managing Director for Zimmerman Advertising where she oversaw the Retail Account Services department supporting over twenty-five local and national brands including Sam’s Club, McDonald’s, Michaels Arts and Crafts, and Tire Kingdom. Carla has been successful in partnering with heads of marketing to navigate an ever-changing landscape in categories that have experienced tremendous change. She credits focusing on the consumer, taking a test and learn approach and investing in best-in-class marketing technology partners as keys to success. Carla has a Specialist BA in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto and an MBA specializing in Luxury Goods & Services from the International University of Monaco. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her husband.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Sure, I have always been interested in solving business problems with marketing solutions.

As a child, my parents were my first clients. I would sit at the dinner table and pitch them new ideas from promotional hooks to staffing solutions for their small business.

I was never short of an opinion and always up for a debate. I was fortunate enough to follow my heart and pursue a career path that merges my passion for creativity, desire to push boundaries and relentless pursuit of measurement.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In taking on the CMO position at IPIC, I have been exposed to some incredibly talented people and partners. One of the most interesting aspects of working in the entertainment industry is the constant evaluation of the overall guest experience. We are much more than a movie theater and as such, we often look to other industries and categories for cues on how we can continue to inspire and delight our guests. Our founder and CEO, Hamid Hashemi rooted the spirit of the brand in a culture of innovation and a need to course correct an industry experience that audiences grew dissatisfied with. As a part of my onboarding and ongoing research, I have had the pleasure of attending IPIC live events and magic shows, dining in the best restaurants and sampling a variety of culinary & mixology experiments all in the name of research. Needless to say, my job so far has been pretty great.

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?

Nope, too embarrassing. Next question!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I knew I was in a special place when in my first week, a C-level executive and an entry level associate both rushed into my office to tell me (on independent terms) about their recent local dining experiences and how they feel we might be able to apply the best parts of those events to our IPIC ACCESS membership loyalty program. Our team is extremely passionate and dedicated to delivering the best possible experience irrespective of department or seniority. At IPIC, we all share a common goal of enhancing and personalizing the overall guest experience and we are all willing to roll up sleeves and get the job done. Our new tagline, Exclusively Yours, speaks to that commitment.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, many! Outside of rolling out a brand new website and mobile app with enhanced user-friendly features including our food and beverage order-ahead feature, one of the most exciting new initiatives we are taking on at IPIC is building out the IPIC ACCESS Membership program. We know that 2019 is going to be a big film year and we are working hard to better understand the viewing and purchasing habits of our audiences so that we can surprise and delight guests of all ages.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Women who feel empowered, empower other women. As a leader, listening to other women and their unique experiences in the corporate world is critical as many obstacles are unique and warrant special attention. One size does not fit all.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Having strong heads of state in place to manage specific divisions, territories or categories is the best way to create a culture of accountability and clear swim lanes. Weekly or bi-weekly one-on-ones are critical to understanding and supporting key players and cascading department goals.

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 have been fortunate to have had some great bosses and mentors over the years that have pushed me, advocated for me and guided me through some critical career transitions. I feel lucky to still have most of those people in my network. I try to pay that positive energy forward to rally around talented people who are just starting out, going through a transition or taking on that next big opportunity.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I make it a priority to support young professionals starting out in marketing. Whether it’s meeting for coffee, catching drinks after work or email exchanges, I am constantly looking to support talented and hardworking individuals as my way of giving back.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be Passionate — I am unapologetically passionate, vocal and determined about my work and the goals my team has set out to accomplish.
  2. Focus and Re-Focus — I am a relentless list maker. Learning how to say no to ideas, vendors or individuals that derail you is critical to success. When the lines get blurry, I create a Not To Do list to document, prioritize and delete the noise.
  3. Have a Sense of Humor — Some of the funniest things in my life have happened at work. Teams that laugh together, stay together.
  4. Repeat Things — Reinforcing why we are doing something and how we need to approach it is important in times of uncertainty and goes a long way in building esprit de corps.
  5. Connect the Dots — associating value and big picture thinking to everyday tasks helps everyone understand how and why their contributions matter.

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. 🙂

As a marketer, I believe art and copy are powerful ingredients that shape the culture and world in which we live in. Using those tools to impart change and communicate a powerful message would feel both effective and common place for me. There are no shortage of causes to get behind in 2019 and I would be happy to support many of them however, these days, my movement is growing our IPIC ACCESS membership offerings and supporting the overall guest experience at IPIC.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Benjamin Franklin

It is important to know your boundaries and when to call it quits however, when you are in the zone, my advice is to keep going.

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 with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Women in entertainment and the topic of perseverance have always been of interest to me. I would love to sit down and ask #BettyWhite some questions. I know we could all keep learning a lot from her.

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