Real Women on the Job: Katelyn Crowley
When the time came to pick someone to interview for this, it was a simple choice. I knew I wanted to highlight someone who inspires me, and who I know would inspire others. The decision was easy; I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect than Katelyn Crowley for the task. Katelyn is the definition of a #girlboss and digital marketing maven. I’ve had the pleasure to know her as my manager, colleague, friend, and inspiration. She’s accomplished so much in such a short period of time, both professionally and personally – at work, she the Vice President of Client Success & Delivery for Advantage Media and at home, she’s a loving wife and mother to her newborn (and absolutely adorable) baby boy. I was excited to learn more about how she got to where she is now, and see what tidbits of advice she may have to offer to us all. Read on for my Q&A with Katelyn and you’ll see for yourself why she is such a personal inspiration to me and many others.
Q&A with Katelyn Crowley
What’s your 140 character resume? Essentially describe your current role/career in 140 characters or less. Katelyn: I manage the Client Success & Delivery team at a digital media company for retail and CPG brands. The scope of my responsibility is broad but everything ladders up to ensuring our clients are seeing the value in our solutions and our employees have what they need to provide the best possible outcomes for our client-base.
Did you think you’d be working in digital media post-college? If not, what did you think you’d be doing? I always thought I’d be a princess! I’m just kidding, I always knew I would work in marketing in some capacity. When I graduated from business school in 2009, digital marketing as a profession was growing. There was a myriad of technology companies coming onto the scene and I jumped on the bandwagon. I did not, however, think I would be part of starting a media company (2015) – that is something I was not visualizing post-college but was so pivotal for my trajectory.
Fast forward to your retirement party, what would you want to impart on your younger female colleagues? Learn to say ‘no’ but also to say ‘yes’. Say ‘yes’ before you’re ready – you’ll learn as you go. All my growth has occurred because I raised my hand and said, ‘I’ll try that!’. On the flip-side, learning to say ‘No’ to events / people / jobs because it does not fulfill or excite you is important. This skill took me a long time to learn – now I am ok with saying ‘No’ and don’t have the need to explain my decision with empty detail. My time is valuable and I’m not going to say ‘yes’ to something that I cannot give my best to. That also has set the standard when I do say ‘yes’, I show up!
Tell us a bit more about your career path and journey to where you are now. It’s not every day you see a woman VP at such a young age. I firmly believe that my success is because of my learned ability to say ‘yes’. I’ve raised my hand and said, ‘I’ll try that!’. I’ve also worked to diversify my skillset which not only helped broaden my perspective, but makes me more agile. In my own experience, and through observation of successful professionals around me – being able to create value in several areas of a business gives you staying power. I started in project management, held several operational hands-to-keyboard roles, then pivoted to client services.
I recently read a book called ‘The 100-Year Life’ by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott. The premise is that we are now living in an age of longevity – to be profitable, content and engaged, each of us will have to carefully consider how we leverage our abilities to have a multi-stage professional life. That could even mean having several but vastly different careers. Right now, I’m thinking about what I need to learn or how I can apply my existing skillset in a new capacity – so I’m not putting all my eggs in the digital marketing basket – an industry that could look very different in a years’ time with the rising privacy concerns of consumers and newly mandated regulations.
Who inspires you? My husband. He is always believing in me before I believe in myself. He is intellectually curious and always trying to learn something new; being around that is contagious.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten? When you have a child, you get lots of unsolicited advice. Shortly after the birth of my son, a friend of mine told me to pick 3 people whose advice I value and then tune out the rest (she was 1 of my 3!). I applied that to motherhood and find this approach also works professionally.
Speaking of children, you just had your first (and adorable, might I add?) child. Has becoming a mom changed your outlook or perspective on the workplace, whether that be work in general, work relationships, etc.? Throughout my late 20’s– I was a very private person at work. I thought that being private was symbolic of being strong. My vision of who a ‘business woman’ should be was misdirected. When you have a child, and go through emotional and physical changes so publicly, you have no choice but to get perspective. What I found through my journey to motherhood is that vulnerability and openness is a means to building trust with the people you work with and the work outcomes are far-and-above when you really know the people you’re working alongside. It shows-up as time efficiency, collaboration, and creative-thinking. Now I encourage my team to bring their whole-selves to work and do my part to encourage everyone to share their experiences inside and outside the work place.
It seems like it’s becoming more and more common for women to postpone having children until they are at a certain place in their careers. Did you ever have this fear? And do you think there’s ever really an ideal time? I’m glad you’re asking and giving me a platform for this message but I’d like to see significant shifts in the way people are supported in the workplace so this question won’t exist in interviews. What I mean, is that workplace leave policies, like maternity and paternity policies, are dismal in the United States. The law that most women rely on is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which will protect your job for up to 12 weeks after childbirth or adoption. The law doesn’t require that you be paid for that time off; it just requires that your job be waiting for you when you return and says that you can’t be penalized for taking the time off. Once again for emphasis: American moms are entitled to zero weeks of paid leave under federal law. Families need time to recover and adjust to childbirth. Until we have policies in place that adequately reflect the importance of childrearing, women will still consider postponing or even worse, not having children at all, for fear that their career will be negatively impacted.
What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to a first time manager? You’ll learn more from listening to your team then you will from directing the conversation.
Have you had any mentors or role models in your career? If so, who and why? Yes, mentors are so important to have. I’m fortunate enough to have a mentor within my organization. He hired me into my original role and we have continued to work with one another for the last 6 years. What makes him a great mentor is his ability to give me unbiased advice and provide candid feedback, understanding your shortcomings is critical to growth (I learned this from him). I hope I can pay it forward and be a mentor to someone in a similar capacity but I also believe mentorship relationships must happen organically – they cannot be forced.
Thus far, what has been the proudest moment of your career? Right now, this very moment. Being able to manage being a mother and maintain (and grow!) my professional career has been challenging but rewarding. I’ve never understood the cliché of ‘having it all’. It should be ‘having what you want’. For me, having a family and having a career weren’t independent of one another, both were and still are important to me.
What are your favorite things to do during your free time? ‘Free-time is a relative term’ when you have seven-month old, but anything I’m doing with my husband and son makes me happy. When I do have time to myself – I enjoy Barre and HITT classes, going out to eat with friends, organizing my closet (that makes me sound boring but it’s so satisfying!) and binge-watching Bravo TV.
What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? My extended family and several friends go to Cape Cod every summer in July. The vacation is simple – ice cream, fried seafood, lazy beach days, and drinks on the deck; but the time spent with the ones I love is something I look forward to every year.
Is there a book or a podcast that you think every woman should read/listen to at some point in their life? At risk of being awkward, I’ve always been drawn to the self-help category. My latest reads have been: Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero. For Podcasts – I focus on my industry, CPG/Retail. I just started listening to The Retail Focus Podcast.
What would you be doing if time and money weren’t an issue? I don’t think time or money should ever limit you from doing what you find fulfilling, even if it means you’re simply working towards whatever that is.
Anything else you’d like to share either about your own journey or to young professionals? Take yourself seriously, but not too seriously!
THIS OR THAT?
- Coffee or tea? Coffee on intravenous.
- Beer or wine? Craft beer – there are so many delicious breweries in New England.
- Savory or Sweet? Savory.
- Books or movies? Audio books for when I’m commuting.
- Pen or pencil? Keyboard
- Call or text? Face-to-face.
- Pool or beach? Do I have to choose?
A big thank you to Katelyn for taking the time to answer my questions and share her insights with the rest of us!