Barbara Pelham, VP, Global Partnerships, Verizon Media
If you had to choose one specific creative piece (can be a song, photo, artwork, movie, play that best reflects your professional journey, what would that be and why?
The song I selected is Miley Cyrus’s song “The Climb.” I started my journey in direct marketing focused on the value of data and results. I was inspired and encouraged by many to never be comfortable and I was chosen for new roles, new disciplines and new client situations always pushing me to the next level. http://www.mrfleck.com/lyrics—the-climb.html
What was the turning point, or most important moment, in your career? How has this moment led you to the leader you are today?
The moment Y&R won the Microsoft business and Wunderman had to resign the IBM business and transition $25M+ and over 125 people to new positions either within Y&R or to OgilvyOne within 90 days. I had more exposure to leaders within WPP and Ogilvy and felt a leadership role to make sure everyone was spoken to and job opportunities discussed. We left 285 Madison on a Thursday and showed up at Ogilvy at Worldwide Plaza on Monday and we did not miss one deadline and clients were pleased with the transition and continuity
Tell us about a female figure who’s had a major impact in your life/professional journey – this can be a mentor, someone who’s inspired you, someone you look up to, etc.
A bit cliche but the woman who most inspired me was my Mom. She returned to the working world PT after her 5 children were in school. She was a widow at age 44 when she returned to Full-Time work where she eventually was promoted to be the secretary to the President of a local college. She managed a full time job, managed a household on her own and never once missed making dinner. Every holiday was special and every birthday unique. She always was driven to be her best self and faced adversity with grace and gratitude. She was a friend to many.
What is the bravest thing you’ve done in your career so far?
As my career progressed, I realized it was important and needed to share more of myself with my team and management. I always kept my professional and personal worlds quite separate. However, a few years ago I was assigned to a new client, introductions were made and I was getting familiar with the account. I was trying to build bridges with senior clients when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of choosing to notify them via email that I would need to take a leave, I addressed the most senior leaders personally as I felt it was incredibly important for them to know that I didn’t just “disappear” but rather I needed to address something far more important. I returned one month later to a one of the warmest welcome ever.