Joining us on this segment of Women In Marketing is Simona Zeca who happens to be our very first entrant from Luxembourg! Simona is the Marketing and Communications Manager at Targetspot. She shares with us how meaningful relationships can be formed even in the remote work setting we’ve found ourselves in recently. By the way, Simona holds a championship in martial arts. A lady with many talents! Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, SIMONA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Bucharest, Romania, six years before the December 1989 revolution happened. Throughout my childhood and early teenage years, my life had three distinct periods: communism, post-communism, and democracy. As I look back on my formative years, it’s as if each period was a drastically different lifetime. Because of these childhood experiences, I have developed a unique and complex perspective on society.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
In primary school, I was the textbook definition of a nerd. I did choreography on weekends during high school; you could say that toned down the nerd. My college years were a balancing act of rushing to class and working for a small advertising agency. I studied Communications and Advertising. It seemed like the right career path to take at the time.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I would help my family and invest in real estate.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
In 2006 I was a national martial arts Wushu (Kung Fu) Champion. I competed only that year and I won the Locals and Nationals in Wushu free hands traditional style.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
I never wanted to be a doctor. I come from an artistic family.
My parents were stage performers. My father was a dancer for 35 years and my mother a singer. I practically grew up backstage, accompanying my father to rehearsal. I was always his little sidekick. When the time came to decide what direction I wanted my career to go in, my heart was screaming advertising. Marketing happened organically over the last four years as I progressed in my career. I had a desire to learn and contribute more. The timing felt right.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I’m not proud to say that I live on coffee; I have caffeine running through my veins. In the morning, I need my coffee to get out of Zombieland. After my brain starts to function, I check the stock market, the global news, our social media and make my plan for the day.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
When I first started working remotely, I was instantly apprehensive about finding and sticking to a routine, and for the first months, I just pretended that nothing had changed. I woke up in the morning, got dressed as if I was going to the office, put on makeup and perfume and sat down in the kitchen (or should I say my new office).
The logical side of the brain functions on routine, tricking it made the transition easier. As for the work-life balance, it became apparent that it was a struggle particularly at the beginning of the pandemic when everything stopped. I maintained balance through my daily routine and the fact that I love my work, which most of the time, doesn’t feel like work at all.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
I am a true believer in remote working whenever possible. The biggest challenge I face is not being able to go to lunch with my New York, Brussels, Paris or London colleagues. I miss the in-person social interactions a shared office space creates. I miss cultivating in-person relationships with my colleagues beyond work.
As for the work we do together, I always take a few minutes at the beginning of our calls to know more about people on a personal level and this makes the work more meaningful. My point is that you can work remotely and still have meaningful connections with people.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
I don’t have an answer here but, I do see a benefit in flexibility.
Employers should acknowledge women have multiple jobs and juggle many hats throughout the day. Acknowledging the various roles we all play in our lives and trusting us to fulfil our work obligations in a timely fashion while still working the required hours as stipulated in our contracts, a significant burden will be lifted from the shoulders of women.
In society, we see women as superhuman when in fact we are all human, and need just a little flexibility and trust we are delivering what is expected of us on time. It’s the responsibility of each organization to create balanced programs that offer their employees a healthy working environment and support when needed. I do not believe in work-life balance; the topic should be more about work-life integration.
Trying to always balance things seems like a burden. Integrating everything a day has to give in a balanced way seems more reasonable. Because work is a significant part of a person’s life alongside other duties, companies should consider a holistic approach, at the same time being careful to avoid and mitigate discrimination.
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
During the pandemic, I decided to pursue one of my long-time dreams: enrolling in an MBA program at the Imperial College Business School . The program has been a life-changing experience so far and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Whenever you feel like there’s no way out of a situation, remember, it is only a mind block. Get creative! Take a good nap, move a little, talk to as many people as possible, and you’ll see that there’s always a sea of possibilities out there just waiting to be explored. Nothing is impossible and nothing lasts forever.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
I honestly checked out most of my bucket list.
On a professional level, my mission is to create meaningful and genuine experiences for the people I work with and for our customers, and I would like more of this. On a personal level, I would like to travel more and have the time to explore Asia if possible.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
I think Bozoma Saint John, the CMO of Netflix is a brilliant lady to follow. She started in Advertising, transitioned into Marketing, and worked for some amazing companies while remaining true to herself.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I am currently reading a lot for my MBA coursework. Contemporary Strategy Analysis by Robert M. Grant is an amazing book that also solidifies some marketing principles. And I use both paperback and eReader.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
I would like to come back as Quentin Tarantino. Unfortunately in this lifetime, the position was already taken.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETEERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
As one of the best in the world.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
One of my former clients at Leo Burnett. She is an amazing person and a fantastic professional, currently living in South Africa. I will drop her a message right now.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Marketing as an overall profession has changed a lot in the past five years. It has become a much more analytical, data-driven discipline. The scope of marketing has changed a lot as well, from the glitz and glam of the past to portraying brands and businesses with authenticity and creating as much value as possible for the consumers in the first place.
To bring value and authenticity into the world, you need to have a solid backbone and build yourself from the ground up with all the skills and knowledge necessary. You do not need to deep-learn all the marketing disciplines, but you need to know what they are about. And remember to also have fun in the meantime.
If you want to pursue a long-lasting career in marketing, please do not jump steps and elbow your way up. Once at the top you’ll do more damage than good to the people you work with and to your brand. Try to accumulate as much knowledge and skills as you can in your starting years, move around a lot and learn from the best you can find. And always ask questions and be curious about things.
This will be your biggest asset.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME SIMONA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
I am always connected on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zsimona/
And my company, Targetspot, has great content and resources about multidimensional digital audio advertising https://www.linkedin.com/company/targetspot