Having the ability to explore, learn, and discover is incredibly important to individual success and society.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Teresa Barreira.
Teresa Barreira, Chief Marketing Officer, Publicis Sapient, brings over two decades of global business, tech, and IT transformation experience in C-level positions for the likes of Deloitte Consulting, IBM, and Accenture.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
When I look back on the beginning of my career, what enabled me to evolve and grow was risk-taking and constantly seeking opportunities to innovate and experiment.
While working at IBM, I was able to take on new roles in different geographies and parts of the organization. I found opportunities where I could reinvent, reimagine, or launch — a new line of the business, brand, or product. I treated each as if I were starting a new business, even though I was part of a big company. It allowed me to be innovative and gave me the freedom to learn.
These opportunities and challenges defined and shaped my career path and expanded my skills and knowledge
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Our current reality will continue to be normal for the near future. Personal lives have merged into work lives. We’re working while parenting, teaching, coaching, cooking and it can cause burnout. While a routine is essential, it’s also important to find moments to step away. Not only have the boundaries between personal and work blurred but so have the days themselves. Defining start and end times helps maintain balance. Taking a moment for yourself is critical.
We introduced ‘Thinking Thursday’ on our team, a way to give back time to think creatively, to have the ability one morning each week to be free of video calls and take that step back. Incessant Zoom meetings can be exhausting so the mental break is helpful.
Great advice. None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are?
I’ve been lucky to have had many great mentors and worked for inspirational leaders who I look up to. While at IBM, I worked for a great woman leader who had a significant influence on my career. She gave me permission and assurance to trust myself, take risks, and empowered me to take charge. When I joined, I was the youngest person on the team by at least ten years.
About three months into my tenure, there was a moment I’ll never forget. We were in Las Vegas, at CES, (for anyone who has been, understands how overwhelming it can be). During our leadership meeting with the entire team, she had to step away to return to the convention floor for a keynote. Before she left the meeting, she approached me and asked me to step outside of the room and said, ‘I need to step away and I need you to lead the meeting.’ My initial reaction was panic. I responded, ‘I’m not the right person. I am the least experienced one in the room.’ She said, ‘You’re the best person in the room to lead. I trust you and you need to trust yourself.’ She gave me permission and confidence to be myself. I felt intimidated but I walked back in and I led the meeting successfully. It was a very pivotal moment in my career.
Can you please tell us 3 things you wish someone told you before you started?
- Don’t be afraid to be yourself, especially for women. Don’t conform. Mostly don’t change your personality to fit into someone else’s. When you bring your authentic self to what you do, it brings out your best work.
- Raise your hand, take opportunities, chances, and risks. Step outside your comfort zone, that’s when you have the greatest opportunity to grow. Try new things, put yourself out there, ask for help when you need to. These are the ways we learn.
- Remember to always be in charge of managing your own career. Of course, you’re going to have mentors along the way, but you must be in charge of managing your path. You have to be the CEO of your own career.
What books, podcasts, documentaries or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I listen to Fareed Zakaria, he’s a brilliant thinker who takes complex topics and breaks them down in a really simplistic way. He takes complicated foreign policy topics, drills down with speed, and explains them in a conversational way. You can feel his depth and care which is rare and hard to come across. That winning combination is something I love and am always looking for as I read and listen.
I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book Talking to Strangers and am currently reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
One more question: If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I am a passionate believer that higher education should be a right not a privilege, and should be available for all, regardless of financial means. Having the ability to explore, learn, and discover is incredibly important to individual success and society. I advocate for education and mentor youth, especially disadvantaged youth who need education and career guidance.
A few years ago, I helped launch a foundation that provides scholarship funds to Portuguese Americans, but the bulk of my free time is spent mentoring youth and my two teenage boys who are starting to make university and career choices of their own.
Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us today!