First, tell us a little about yourself: Name, Title, Company, How you got there. We want to know your story.
Emma Wiedner, Senior Account Executive Client Engagement, Xaxis. I lead business development and client engagement for Xaxis in the Minneapolis market. Xaxis, the world's largest programmatic media platforms, helps advertisers & media agencies utilize data and technology to reach their audience on all addressable channels (video, desktop, mobile, digital OOH and instream radio). It's an extremely exciting, ever-changing space that I believe enables smarter media buying and accountability of creative & media to a client's real world business results.
I'm fascinated by advertising, technology and business, and believe programmatic is a wonderful intersection of all of those. I got here by continuing to believe in the potential of digital in advertising, and that technology would be a huge driver of this. On that principal belief, I started out at FRWD learning everything I could about digital. I brought that knowledge to Starcom and shifted when I realized I loved business & client development more than the actual buying of media. That brought me to 24/7 Real Media, one of the first ad servers & networks, which merged with Xaxis in 2014. Together they created a powerhouse programmatic platform, which today is in 48 markets representing $1 billion in spend. I've taken advantage of the opportunity at Xaxis to start in Chicago, move to the NYC headquarters to support the east coast business and then launch our Minneapolis office at the end of 2015.
You've made a few shifts in terms of your career "“ from Account Management, to Account Planning to Media. What motivated your shifts and pivots?
I originally wanted to be an account planner, but most agencies require you start in account management before moving into research. However I knew the future of the industry was in digital and the jobs available for someone with no computer science background was in media; so I fell into media a bit accidentally. I quickly realized I loved my media job when reps would come in and present their offering. I found it a great way to learn about the variety in the digital space, but I also found myself yearning to be in their shoes, getting to meet with clients, run presentations and develop business. It shouldn't have been a huge surprise as I would become the third generation seller in my family it really does run in the blood! What motivated these shifts was finding what made me curious, what made time fly by in the day and where I saw potential and opportunity to make a mark and continue learning in the advertising industry.
What is the most invaluable lesson you've learned as you've moved across roles, departments, agencies and cities during your career?
Always be ready to make a strong impression and carry yourself well in and out of the office, especially in a market as small as Minneapolis. You never know who will become your client or your boss. I've had college classmates and former colleagues become my clients. My current boss was one of the first reps I connected with as a 22-year-old assistant media planner.
Across cities, I've learned Minneapolis has the best work life balance, Chicago is a great convergence of Midwesterners with an incredible work ethic and New Yorkers' frankness is misinterpreted for rudeness. That frankness is amazing and keeps business moving faster and with clarity.
What do you do to maintain your passion and your drive?
Cook, travel, and obsessively read & watch the news (topics of interest: world affairs, economics, politics, pop culture and business news). These are outlets outside of the office, but also aspects that inspire me and tie easily back to my job. Traveling and keeping up on the news can inspire ideas and new ways of working with different teams. Cooking is a great human connection to new clients and teams, because who doesn't love food?!
After a job that burnt me out on the business, I went into my pivot job at 24/7 with boundaries in check. No email after a certain hour or first thing in the morning, days off on a regular basis, connecting with colleagues and clients on hobbies and passions outside of work; basically making sure I stayed human. If you're a motivated Type A individual, it's easy to be driven by the deadlines, stress, and fear of losing a client. Those drivers don't lead to true productivity, inspired work or happy work relationships.
What is your personal definition of what makes a "MPLS MadWoman"?
She's not only passionate and intelligent about her business, but sees the larger picture of how she can contribute to MPLS as a community, not just the MPLS advertising community. We're helping grow businesses and, in some cases, influencing culture while creating art, but as many will tell you, we're not curing cancer. One reason I was really excited to come back here is the sense of civic duty that exudes from so many folks, specifically women here. From volunteering, to holding a position on a non-profit board to being involved in municipal committees to helping small businesses prosper. A MPLS MadWoman elevates her business, company and community.
How do you strive to embody what it is to be a MPLS MadWoman, in both your professional and personal life?
Anyone who knows me professionally or personally knows I'm an active and enthusiastic feminist. I've helped female friends and colleagues with negotiation prep (from a raise, to a car loan, to a new apartment), going after a new career, connecting with each other in the industry for shared work, volunteering or building a business together. I believe in not only advocating for yourself, but advocating for others that you believe in. That is the only way women will build an industry & community where we are equally represented and in positions of power and decision making.
What advice would you give to those who feel stuck or unmotivated in their current career situation and are thinking about making a pivot in their own professional paths?
First evaluate what about the current position has you feeling unmotivated or stuck. Is it hours, lack of leadership, lack of mobility, bad boss, a skill set you're not passionate about or not that skilled at? Or is it really uninspiring work? Take the time to learn from a less than desirable career situation so that your next move is well thought out and one that you have confidence in.
Once you've identified what you want that pivot to be, research folks in those positions and take them to coffee or lunch (make sure to pay! Their time is a commodity), and ask them all the questions you can. Don't hold back! This is your time to get real, honest answers. I did this with favorite sales reps of mine, and it paid off tremendously because I was better prepared for not only my career pivot, but also the negotiation for that job as well. I've happily grown in that company for 3 ½ years now with the intention of continuing to develop here for quite some time. It was well worth the pivot!
MadWoman of the month is a monthly series of interviews highlighting an amazing woman each month in our community, voted for by the community, and published on the Egotist. We’re thrilled to shine a light on inspirational women. Nominate the next MadWoman of the Month on twitter.