Christine Warner is a digital marketer and team lead with agency, brand, and non-profit experience developing integrated campaigns and content platforms for brands such as Uber, Samsung, Victoria’s Secret, Walgreens, and Dignity Health. Now, she is the Senior Manager of Digital for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where she manages the content team and oversees the digital marketing efforts of various non-profit communities and ministries throughout Southern California.
How did you break into leadership?
Persistence and ambition.
I believe that, if you work hard and have passion for what you do, you’ll naturally make your way into leadership when you’re ready for it and want it.
I’ve never been one to work towards a dream job (I’ve found predetermined ideals are limiting), but I always have growth goals. Whenever my path to growth and advancement becomes unclear, I work to get clarity. And, if I can’t get the clarity I need, I move on.
My first leadership role came from an internal promotion—one that took plenty of persistence! Luckily, all my individual contributor roles before then involved some sort of indirect people management. I had managed freelancers, interns, peers, and vendors. This made my transition into direct people management a lot easier. And, at that point in my career, I had worked under lots of managers: great ones, average ones, and some truly terrible ones. So, I knew what I wanted to do—and not do—as a manager to support my team and direct reports.
I also have to advocate for diversifying your experience. There’s a stigma against being a generalist in marketing, but I actually think the diversity of my roles (digital media planner, content strategist, regional marketing manager, etc.) helped me move into management faster because I could understand and guide a variety of digital marketing disciplines.
What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?
The biggest challenge for me hasn’t come from being a woman, but from being an introverted woman. Introverts are a minority in marketing agencies and tech companies—in my experience, anyway.
My reserved demeanor and social anxiety has been an ongoing source of insecurity throughout my career. It started during my senior year of college when I applied for a full-time position at an advertising agency I interned at both semesters. I was turned down—but not because I wasn’t qualified. I was explicitly told I wasn’t a good fit because I was too introverted. It was hard not to take that personally!
This rejection stuck with me for a while (although I ended up getting the same role at another agency). Since then, even while working for companies with values like “the best idea wins,” I’ve been overlooked in meetings or dismissed as disinterested for not being the loudest or most aggressive team member.
I’m definitely not a victim of introversion, and I now recognize its role in my strengths and successes. This challenge has helped me grow by becoming more assertive, learning to process and respond in the moment, having a more vocal presence in meetings, being confident in my natural qualities, and developing my own leadership style.
How do you stay motivated at work?
Always having an “inside passion project” keeps me motivated. It’s not a project you do as a side gig (for me, that’s freelance writing). An inside passion project is something you do at work that gets you excited and contributes to your team’s success and/or your own growth. It’s related to your job, but it’s not required.
My inside passion projects usually involve new processes, tools, or partners. In the past, I’ve proposed new team structures, tech integrations, internal tools, and process workflows. Inside passion projects are a great way to show initiative by doing something above and beyond your job description.
They’re also a productive way to channel any frustrations at work. If you identify a problem or annoyance, be proactive in proposing a solution. You might not get your way, but at least you can know you tried to make a change. Setting aside time on a consistent basis to work on my inside passion projects helps me stay positive and challenged to fight back any sense of complacency or frustration.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
If I could start over, I would trust myself more and care less about what other people think. It took me a while to build confidence, act on my instincts, and be okay with confrontation. I would rarely speak up in meetings and keep ideas to myself if I doubted them or wasn’t sure how others would respond or react. Over time, I learned to quash my insecurities and take more risks—but I wish I had done so earlier.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
I wouldn’t say that I have a single, sweeping career highlight. But I definitely have proud moments and accomplishments in each job—usually when I’ve introduced something totally new, big or small, that has had a broad impact.
For example, I had a big role in pushing forward a Google Analytics integration while at Skyword (one of my “inside passion projects”) by building a case to prove the internal and client needs for more reliable and consistent reporting.
As one of the first driver-focused marketers at Uber, I contributed to a lot of initiatives paving the way for the 180 Days of Change campaign. I managed the launch and execution of an internal email tool and weekly newsletter for drivers. It started as a regional initiative, then scaled across the United States and Canada. Through centralization, this strategy and process brought a lot of internal efficiency. It also became one of the primary communication channels for driver education and engagement on topics such as business policies, product launches, driving tips, and community impact.
While on the leadership team of Boston Content, an organization that offers networking events and workshops for content marketers, I proposed and led the launch of Boston’s first annual content marketing awards in 2015, Boston Content Marketers to Watch, to recognize local talent. It brought a lot of visibility to our efforts and helped bring well-deserved attention to up-and-coming content marketers.
These are the types of projects that make me proud!
Share something interesting or valuable with the community.
I constantly remind myself about Covey’s advice around focusing our time and attention on our “Circle of Influence” (things we can control and change) instead of our “Circle of Concern” (things we can’t control or change). Our Circle of Influence is usually smaller than our Circle of Concern, but directing our energy toward what we can control and taking action will make our Circle of Influence grow.
For example, instead of worrying about whether or not you’ll get the job offer, be proactive and focus on preparing for the next interview to make sure you do your best. This productive attitude will make you more likely to influence your potential employer’s decision. Plus, you’ll be happier.
Thanks to Jes Kirkwood who conducted this interview in May 2018.