As Chief Product Officer at WW International (formerly Weight Watchers), Lucinda Newcomb manages teams that oversee the digital member experience from start to finish. This is no small task, especially at such an iconic company, but from her first recruiting experience with WW, she knew she’d be up for the challenge.
“In an ideal world, when you’re joining an organization, you should both feel lucky,” she recently told Fairygodboss. “That’s how it feels when it’s a magical match and I definitely felt that at every step of the interview process — and every day since joining WW.”
She also knew she’d be set up to succeed because of the significant focus WW has on technology. While WW’s technology capabilities are just beginning to receive recognition, their commitment to growing their digital offerings aids Newcomb in doing great work every day.
“We are so much more of a tech company than you can see from the outside,” she said.
The culture of meritocracy, mission-driven work and strong female role models from the C-suite down solidify WW as a great place to work, according to Newcomb.
“Working for a company that has strong women leaders and that sees people and rewards them for the impact they can have is very powerful,” she shared.
Newcomb is this role model to the members of her team. Through her experiences, she’s learned quite a bit about discovering and showcasing a team’s talents, sponsoring women who are rising through the ranks and leading with integrity. Below you can read the three skills she thinks every leader needs to be successful — and her action steps for meaningful sponsorship.
Tell me about your role at WW.
As Chief Product Officer, I am responsible for building awesome, compelling digital experiences for our WW Members that help them find success in their weight loss and wellness journeys. I have all of the product management, design, program definition and experience research teams in my organization, looking across the entire end-to-end member journey.
What about the organization first made you want to join?
When I got a call from an exceptional leader I had previously worked for at Sephora telling me she had the perfect role for me, I was intrigued. She raved about the brand, the company, the mission and the people and suggested I meet them.
She was so right on every one of those levels and more. This is an area of high “passion match” for me. I followed the WW program in 2008, lost 20 pounds and have kept it off since. WW gave me a sense of empowerment and control over my own life — that “I am in control and change my own behaviors” — made the difference more than actually losing the weight. It was a turning point for me.
Democratizing wellness and bringing empowerment to women is such an important mission and so close to my heart. It was such a clear choice for me to work at WW. I wanted to be part of this mission.
And then I was blown away with every leader I met during the interview process — by their shared passion for the mission and their collaboration to make sure that their work was done well and done right. Joining a culture that puts the member at the center of everything we do was incredibly important to me.
In an ideal world, when you’re joining an organization, you should both feel lucky. That’s how it feels when it’s a magical match and I definitely felt that at every step of the interview process — and every day since joining WW.
What benefits or perks offered by WW make it an attractive organization for female job seekers?
WW has a culture that’s more of a meritocracy. Having women leaders and being a company that sees people and rewards them for the impact they can have is very powerful. What makes WW a great and friendly place for women is that we have a lot of strong women leaders who understand how to be successful in a diverse company. Of course, it’s no accident that we have an amazing female CEO, Mindy Grossman, who leads with authenticity, vulnerability and compassion. She continues to build and reinforce a culture that does the same.
Here we have the ability to impact so many members' lives — many of whom are women. If that is a part of your personal mission in life, this is a great place to achieve it.
What’s something that someone might not know about WW?
We are so much more of a tech company than you can see from the outside. We invested in our core tech transformation in a way that allows us to do much more in that space. When I arrived, I was so excited to see how far we’d come and how much work had already been done on our foundation, all of which sets us up to move rapidly like any other tech company.
How do you plan to use your role to help bring up other women behind you?
I’m a huge believer in developing talent. It’s vital to have sponsors and advocates that help you see your blindspots and provide honest, candid feedback, but also help you position yourself for the right next step. The irony for all of us is that 90% of the conversations about your career happen when you're not in the room, so as someone who can mentor and sponsor talent, I feel a great responsibility to be there for them.
On a personal level, I believe in making time to see my whole team, have conversations and identify who has high potential. I want to build relationships, see the team and get to know them. That way I can help bring them along and put them in the right situations to show when they’re ready for the next level.
From an organizational perspective, I believe in having clear, actionable career ladders. What are the expectations for skills and behaviors at each level as you progress? These expectations need to cover both the “what” they deliver and the “how.” It’s never good enough to just tell someone “they’re not ready.” You need to be able to articulate why and what they need to work on. There has to be a fair and transparent set of expectations being applied. When that work is done, it makes it easy to have a conversation about a particular team member’s strengths and opportunities, and how to get to the next level.
I’ve known too many women who didn’t realize how powerful and effective they were, and didn’t know to ask. I spend a lot of time telling women not to negotiate against themselves!
By giving everyone opportunities to be visible and clear tools to help identify their strengths and opportunities, you can create a far more level playing field. That’s how you build a meritocracy.
What are the top 3 skills you think every leader needs to be successful?
You have to think about how you are setting the tone and narrative, and how you are setting the culture through your behaviors. Be mindful of how you come across, what kind of leader you want to be and the example you are setting. How you communicate, when you communicate, what you communicate, whether in actions, words or body language, are all seen and internalized by your team and partners. As a leader, you need to recognize when you are in a good mindset versus when you are not and learn to “self-soothe” instead of taking it out on those around you.
2. Clarity of vision
If the team knows where they’re going and where they need to be, they can answer their own questions along the way. A manager operationalizes and gets things done. A great leader articulates where we want to go and rallies others around that. Leaders don’t have to have all the answers — in fact, they shouldn’t, because there wouldn’t be anything left for anyone else to do! But they need to provide the direction and the rallying cry, and enlist the right people in figuring out how to get there. If you provide a clear overarching direction, everyone around you has a north star they can use to make all the day-to-day decisions that add up to whether or not you get there.
Good communication isn’t just about having the right answer. A great leader has the ability to communicate in a way that people understand and get bought into.
One of my favorite quotes is “never mistake authority for influence.” The fact is, you can lead from anywhere. You can come up with great vision, communicate it to others, motivate them to work together to achieve it and get magical things to happen. That is influence. But the inverse is not true. Just because you have the title, doesn’t mean everyone will do what you say. Leading comes with permission and it’s built through influence and trust. If you build good influence and leadership, the title will come.
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