A special entry for this segment of Women In Marketing as we profile our very first candidate from Antigua and Barbuda. We chat with La Donna Williams who is the Digital Manager for Cricket West Indies. Let’s dive in and learn more about this marketing powerhouse! 💪🏼
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, LA DONNA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I am from Trinidad & Tobago, the most southern of the chain of Caribbean islands. Located just 7 miles off the northeast coast of Venezuela, we are about 1.4 million strong.
The atmosphere is vibrant and Trinis are always ready to have a good time. With mouth-watering food, multicultural delicacies and waist-moving music, Trinidad is the place to be.
But if you fancy a more serene and small-island vibe, then Tobago – which is just a 20-minute plane ride away – will take your breath away.
One of my favourite memories growing up in Trinidad is riding my BMX bike in our neighbourhood (that was the “flex” back then) without a care in the world while under the watchful eyes of family and neighbours who treated all the children like their own.
Another one of my memories is representing my primary school as a backup singer for the top student calypsonian at Carnival competitions. To this day, I’m still unsure why I was selected. Honestly, I cannot sing! Seemingly though, I am decent on background vocals (or maybe there was no one else to choose from, lol). In any case, I made it to the ‘big stage’ on a few occasions. Carnival is a big deal for many Trinbagonians – an annual cultural experience that attracts tourists from all around the world.
Currently, though, I reside in beautiful Antigua – a must-visit island further north that boasts of a beach for every day of the year!
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
In high school, I started as a bit of a nerd.
I was the student reading her Biology textbook before school started in the mornings while the other kids, in retrospect, wisely enjoyed their small dose of freedom. I’m not sure what my obsession with Biology was back then because I had zero interest in entering the medical field!
Mainly though, I was conscientious but certainly not the popular kid. I, however, went on to win the Most Outstanding Business Student at the school Awards as well as first place in the school’s Beauty Pageant.
At college, it was pretty much the same. I maintained high grades and worked hard. I ended my college years being awarded the Student of the Year at graduation.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
I consider myself to be a kind person. BUT, I’m still working on the food-sharing part, lol. Interestingly, food is like fashion to me; it all depends on my mood on any given day. But if I have to choose, I’d go with a medium-well, grilled rack of lamb with grilled potatoes and vegetables or some good Thai food.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Which currency? (Kidding).
I’d start my academy for children or young adults who have different talents and sensibilities than the average intellectual. I so desperately want these kids to know that they are worthy of space and spotlight on the “big stage” and they can be exactly who they were born to be. Not everyone’s path leads to a doctor, lawyer or dentist and that’s also applaudable. My family and loved ones would also be taken care of with this newfound fortune.
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!
I was mentioned on an actual internationally-released CD! (That’s when CD’s were a hot commodity and there were booklets with credits and mentions).
Atlantic Records’ Ryan Star mentioned me on his “11:59” album as the “Sassy La Donna” for my contribution as the A&R Assistant on his project.
I also pitched one of the songs that made it onto Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married” movie and soundtrack. It’s called “Who Am I To Say” by Hope Shorter. (In those days, Atlantic Records handled the distribution for Tyler Perry’s movies).
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 wish I could offer a deep response here. The truth is, when I got to college I wanted to do Human Resources for my Business degree. But since the College I attended did not offer HR as a specialization and I hated Accounts (or the nicer thing to say would be I strongly disliked it lol), I chose Marketing …by default!
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I’m #TeamTea for the most part, but when the going gets rough, I certainly jump the fence and represent for #TeamCoffee!
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
It’s challenging on many levels since most of us have brought our jobs to our homes. But I try to schedule time for myself the same way I schedule meetings and other work-related activities. I fit in simple activities like taking a jog, hanging out on the beach or going to the gym.
It’s not always easy, but I try to make work a component of my life and not the other way around.
YOU HAVE A BACHELOR’S IN MARKETING AND MANAGEMENT FROM FELICIAN UNIVERSITY. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
The technological advances we’ve enjoyed, the proliferation and accessibility of mobile devices as well as the emergence of various online platforms have unveiled a new phenomenon.
People inherently want to be in control of what content they consume, as well as when and how they consume it.t. They want de-bundled and on-demand services that work around their schedule and desires and not the other way around. I will venture to say, the same holds for educational pursuits.
Students will seek to study what they believe is most valuable to their career and personal advancement and may soon be averse to taking courses that do not align with their unique ambitions. This means a “pre-packaged” degree may need to offer more flexibility to appeal to this new trend.
It’s an interesting one to watch out for but, I believe companies may have to review their hiring requirements given the new educational climate that empowers the learner to pursue their combination of educational and specialist courses.
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?
Working from home has proven something many may not want to embrace.
Productivity is the principal measurement of output, not how many hours an employee has been physically supervised. That being said, there is no substitute for physical interaction, especially in a team setting. A balance of both scenarios is perhaps the best model.
The main challenge I’ve faced during this time is forgetting to take breaks or time outs because somehow you think that since you’re at home, they’re not needed. This cannot be further from the truth. We need to allocate breaks for ourselves to recharge.
To combat the urge to stay stuck by my computer all day, I sometimes go for a short drive, especially on mentally-taxing days.
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?
Without generalizing, the report isn’t surprising.
Women tend to bear a heavier responsibility at home especially as it relates to nurturing and caring for younger kids. With less help from schools and caretakers, the parents have taken up the slack. I believe department heads should have these direct conversations with employees to collectively develop tactics to help women navigate their days in ways that preserve their well-being without impacting their productivity.
Affording women the flexibility to juggle fewer balls at any given time is a good start. Many companies are contributing to communities and causes which I loudly applaud, but charity begins at home. Employees, and particularly women, are desperately trying to manage more with less during this pandemic and they can use some corporate intervention.
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?
I believe I’ve grown on both fronts. I’ve had more time to think and develop. I’ve also successfully pursued formal training in Digital Marketing and am now a Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) conferred by the Digital Marketing Institute.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Simply, enjoy the ride and worry less. God has ordered every one of your steps even when the road is winding or the territory is uncharted. I’d also tell my younger self that “you are worthy of greatness”.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Not a bucket list item, but I do hope to have my own family one day.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
I’d say my Mom, my sister, Ravaughn, Grandmother, Aunt and most of the women in my family. Outside of my circle, I’d say, Michelle Obama, the honourable Mia Mottley, Gabrielle Union and Mariah Carey (I’m a huge Mariah Carey fan!)
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I’m an e-reader.
I recently read a novel called ‘Devil in a Blue Dress’ as well as Memoirs from Trevor Noah, Michelle Obama and Mariah Carey and most recently, Gabrielle Union.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I’m not watching anything these days, but if I go on I’d have some episodes of “The Bold Type” to catch up on!
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
A singer and songwriter, LOL. I am generally happy with my journey and won’t change a thing, but boy, do I wish I could sing!
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?
Such an inspiring read!
I’d like to be remembered as a shrewd, savvy and successful marketer who courageously rode the waves of the Informational Age.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I try to keep in touch with friends and family. I wish I had the opportunity to chat with my grandfather who passed away 20 years ago.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Marketing is so cool and creative. But remember what you do is a means of achieving a specified and predetermined strategy. You’re using art to achieve science. That is what makes Marketing so unique. Your ability to balance these two worlds will always set you up for success in any industry!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME LA DONNA. 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’m on LinkedIn! I’ll also be launching my website early next year. www.ladonnawilliams.com