Women In Business Q&A: Samantha Fennell, MD, On the market

How has your life experience made you the leader you might be today?
Growing up I was always encouraged to be independent and resourceful. I am eternally grateful to a family, who never let it enter my mind that there was something I could not do, be, or accomplish. It made me hard-wired to try just about anything and believe I had a reasonable chance at succeeding. To me – resilience is the key. To keep getting up if you get knocked down.

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How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Out there?
During your complete course of my career I’ve worked in the client service business, where my success is based on helping clients perform better and generating revenue for my company in the process. It’s in my DNA to seek out solutions and solve problems. In fact, my mother will let you know this trait revealed itself early on in highschool when she’d say I used to be always “plotting and planning”.
So during my many years in publishing working for magazines, such as Vogue and Elle, it was always paramount to me that if I used to be able to provide genuine benefit to a client in the beginning, growth would result.

We employ the same tactics at On the market – which is a luxury creative and branding agency, where I’m based in New York (though we now have numerous international offices, including Milan). We’re focused on helping our clients forge meaningful connections with consumers and we approach each challenge strategically. Throughout this process we ensure that we’re providing the perfect in class service. Our clients tell us they appreciate the fact that they interface with the senior members of our team throughout any project.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at On the market?
I feel the greatest highlight is that in lower than three years On the market has attracted a few of the most world renowned brands to its roster – including Buccellati, Salvatore Ferragamo, Bal Harbour shops, and Farfetch. Now we have built an ideal team across our six offices all over the world. It proves our business model is working and that we have now found a white space out there that’s attracting great partners.

Of course there are various challenges with starting a new company in growth mode: from staffing with the correct talent, to establishing systems and protocols, to forging strategic partners that will foster growth and extend service capabilities. But for those who love to build things, as I do, there’s nothing more rewarding than creating something that didn’t exist before with a team you actually enjoy.

What advice can you offer women who need a career in your industry?
Be passionate and resilient, because for each victory there are many disappointments along the way in which. However, staying positive and focused is key and can help with career development.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It is my personal belief that in the 24/7 always connected world we live in, balance is about flow, not about trying to force a separation between “work time” and “life time”. It’s also about constantly setting boundaries and priorities. Focusing on and prioritizing your required outcomes whether they are personal or professional is liberating. I’m constantly shortening my list of what is important and staying clear on why it is important. That “why” will pull you through.

Also, ensure that to take outing a few times a year to rest and recharge. Create some “nothingness” in your life – it’s like oxygen.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women within the workplace?
While gender equality in the workplace has not been universally achieved, I believe women are obliged to adopt the same tactics most successful men do, which incorporates showing up, following up, speaking up and delivering. To me these are gender-neutral musts in business and absolutely essential in any work environment. It’s so important to harness your talents and energy in a positive and productive way.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and private life?
I have had the privilege of working with a few of the industries’ bold face names in media and publishing. Each has contributed to my very own management and leadership style in everlasting ways.

As such, I attempt to impart the wisdom I have gained over time to my staff and colleagues. And these days I believe mentors should even be mentees. If you are a 45 year old in media who wants to talk with the ease and fluency of a digital native, it is best to hang out with 20 somethings from time to time versus relying solely on Digiday and Mashable to stay ahead of the curve. There is a lot to learn from each other.

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Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I are likely to admire female leaders who have more than simply their “femaleness” to set them apart. Women who come to mind are ones who’ve transcended what many would consider limitations and have gone on to thrive within the business area they’ve chosen while helping others along the way in which.

Michelle Obama is an incredible example of this. A single five minute conversation with her back in 2008 was the catalyst for me quitting my job to work on her husband’s 2008 presidential campaign, as a volunteer no less.

Another female leader I admire is U.S. Rep Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee war veteran who did not let her physical injuries hinder her passion to represent her country in Congress.
Then lastly I might must say Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox. We understand how few female CEOs we’ve in this country, so to be the primary African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company who focuses so heavily on education initiatives in areas where young girls do not naturally excel makes her truly remarkable.

What would you like On the market to accomplish in the subsequent year?
We need to continue to expand our client base and client categories and we believe having a balanced portfolio of high-end clients across a breadth of business types is a smart strategy.
We are also focused on further developing our digital media and content capabilities. Our last three hires were in the digital and social spheres and I might prefer to see us produce even more beautiful and fascinating content such as what we’ve recently created for Z Zegna and Buccellati. We have also worked with some great talent, including Salma Hayek who was recently in the Pomellato campaign.

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