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Lessons From Inspirational Women In STEM: “Trust your gut when inspiration strikes — even if it comes from an unexpected place or at an inopportune time” With Hety McNamara of Colgate-Palmolive

…The experience taught me to trust my gut when inspiration strikes — even if it comes from an unexpected place or at an inopportune time. For me, when I happened to be taking in my surroundings on the city streets, it hit me just how much women go through on a day to day basis. I’m lucky […]

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…The experience taught me to trust my gut when inspiration strikes — even if it comes from an unexpected place or at an inopportune time. For me, when I happened to be taking in my surroundings on the city streets, it hit me just how much women go through on a day to day basis. I’m lucky to come home to a very loving husband and wanted to express the power of a quiet act of kindness amidst a noisy, messy day.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Hety McNamara. Hety, is a Brand and Product Manager at Colgate-Palmolive who partners with cross-functional teams around the globe to bring your most trusted products to life. After spending nearly a decade working for multi-million dollar brands and Fortune 100 companies, Hety knows what truly drives successful products and campaigns — it’s how well you connect with the people you’re trying to serve and communicate your understanding back to them. Hety has managed over 15 end-to-end product launches, including technical ones from her time at IBM and, most recently, consumer products at Colgate-Palmolive. In addition to her extensive marketing experience, Hety is a trained project management professional. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Hety is an avid basketball fan and, admittedly, a reality TV enthusiast. She holds a BS in marketing from Penn State University and an MBA from NYU.


Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always been drawn to marketing because it opens up a universe of possibilities. There are countless ways to market a product or brand, but the one commonality I’ve noticed throughout my career at Colgate and earlier on with companies like Mattel and Toys R Us is that the most effective campaigns are those that humanize a brand and resonate deeply with a key audience. The excitement and challenge of seeking, finding and developing that personal connection is what gets me out of bed every morning.

What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I always push myself to think differently because I believe that discomfort is how we grow — both as humans and as marketers. Just because something has been done a certain way for a long time doesn’t mean it’s the only way or the best way to move forward. That’s where disruption plays a role. And expanding my thinking helps me better connect the brand to the consumer.

For example, one of the brands I work on at Colgate is Ajax. Ajax has been a staple in U.S. homes for decades, but the brand wanted to strengthen its emotional bond within its core demographic. That’s why the decision was made to create the first ever video spot for the brand.

I was inspired to diverge a bit from my day-to-day responsibilities and share my vision for a different campaign that would remind women that they are tougher than life’s toughest days. We only had four weeks and a very limited budget, but with a lot of support, creativity and teamwork, I developed “Cut through the grime. Be an everyday hero,” which turned out to be a massive success.

The experience taught me to trust my gut when inspiration strikes — even if it comes from an unexpected place or at an inopportune time. For me, when I happened to be taking in my surroundings on the city streets, it hit me just how much women go through on a day to day basis. I’m lucky to come home to a very loving husband and wanted to express the power of a quiet act of kindness amidst a noisy, messy day.

We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?

Hands down my manager at Colgate, Stephanie Konyves, is a constant inspiration to me. No matter how much is going on — and there’s always lots going on that demand her attention — she always makes time to hear my ideas, act as a sounding board and provide feedback. This particular idea hit me late in the evening and I didn’t hesitate to give Stephanie a call. She’s so passionate and open-minded, making her one of the best managers I’ve ever had.

Beyond mentoring me, Stephanie has also acted as my sponsor by advocating for my ideas even when I’m not in the room. The Ajax “Cut through the grime” video spot would never have come to fruition had it not been for Stephanie’s support and assistance getting the internal approvals needed to proceed.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey?

When the going gets tough: “Let’s keep going!” — Stephanie Konyves

When the project seems too big: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” — Mukul Deoras

And just when you think you have it figured out: “Everyone has a plan…until they get punched in the face.” — Mike Tyson

How are you going to shake things up next?

Product and process innovation are constant focuses at Colgate. I’m always working on a number of exciting projects, so it’s hard to choose just one!

I do use a loose formula across all of my work to help keep marketing campaigns fresh, continuously innovate and “shake things up.” It includes reminding myself to embrace big ideas (tension and uncertainty can lead to the best campaigns!), always considering the emotional impact and brand synergies, consulting my mentor along the way and developing a thoughtful plan of action. That said, no formula or process works in every situation. A critical part of successful marketing is remaining agile and being willing to take chances and make mistakes. More often than not, those risks pay off!

What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking?

My Christian faith has had a profound impact on me, especially when negative thinking strikes, so I’d have to say the Bible.

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?

Well being told that I am a person of great influence made me smile! And I think we can all smile and laugh some more in life. I hope to inspire movements that remind everyone that they are loved and capable of loving.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? How was it relevant in your life?

“Pressure Makes Diamonds” is my all-time favorite quote. It comforts me during times of stress and stress took on a whole new meaning after becoming a mom a couple of months ago! My son is the precious gem that makes it all worth it though.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/hetymcnamara

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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