We're excited to introduce a new weekly feature: Fairygodboss of the Week!
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women -- so each week, we will celebrate a true "Fairygodboss", i.e. a woman who has taken time to make a difference in another woman's career. Our first nominee was submitted by our co-founder Romy Newman.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio
Chief Revenue Officer
New York, NY
Why Romy Nominated Ellen
Ellen is my Fairygodboss. I had the privilege of working with Ellen on the launch of WSJ. Magazine. Ellen is an amazing role model. She is devoted to her work, innovative in her approach, and she makes every day fun. It's no wonder she is a legend and a huge success in her field. Whenever I've been at a career juncture or have a question about how to manage my career, Ellen has listened, given great advice, and been my own personal cheerleader. She also sets a great example for everyone in how she's turned her life's passion, travel, into her career. She works very hard but still makes time to do the things that are important to her.
Ellen worked at Travel & Leisure and Departures magazines for 17 years, where she rose to the ranks of Senior Vice President and Publisher of Travel & Leisure. She left American Express to go to The Wall Street Journal, where she was responsible for launching the fantastically successful WSJ. Magazine. Now she is Chief Revenue Officer of the dynamic travel media property, AFAR. She lives in New York City, but rarely has her feet on the ground as she is constantly traveling to glamorous destinations. (She was on her way to Dubai when we did this interview).
FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
EAG: Tenacity. I've always been very directed towards a career, even as a child. I always knew I wanted to be a businesswoman and have a career in advertising or marketing. I have never waited for anyone to give me an opportunity. Instead, I pursue what I wanted and made it clear that I was the right person for each position I held. Proactively pursuing the next position, and proving my worth before being given a specific role helped me create a successful path.
I started at an advertising agency right out of college (FIT for my Associate's degree, then Baruch). I worked at an insurance company while in school, met someone through networking who connected me to my first opportunity at an ad agency as a receptionist. After that, building a network and great relationships was critical to my growth. After 4 years in advertising, I was able to make the leap to sales/marketing.
I made it a point to always take the initiative and not wait for an offer to come along. And I learned that you must always respect relationships and the people who helped you along the way. Accumulate great, smart, loyal people in your career and in your life. Success is entirely based on your network and the relationships you have that are built on respect and trust.
At American Express, I was able to gain promotion after promotion - but always because I pushed for them. I would give a presentation each time to show them what "The Ellen Factor" could bring. I became VP of Sales and Marketing, and finally SVP/Publisher.
FGB: What is your proudest accomplishment?
EAG: Things that are out of our control are always the biggest challenge, so for me I'd say it was 9/11. That was a tough moment for us in business, and personally. Especially being in the travel industry, so many people were discouraged — including my own team — and they couldn't figure out how to move through the negativity. But by focusing on being constructive and positive, even in the face of disaster, we overcame. We instituted "vacation in your own city" to stimulate business. And I made a point to start bringing people to places to support the countries that were victims of disasters — such as Bali, and Thailand.
You learn so much when you're challenged. You're better and stronger for it.
FGB: What do you do when you're not working?
EAG: Travel (also what I do when I'm working!), focus on health and wellness, and entertaining
FGB: What is your all-time favorite travel destination?
EAG: It's hard to pick. Italy is where my roots are, Bali to be spiritually moved, and Jamaica to regroup. Recently, Africa really inspired me.
FGB: What is your favorite song?
EAG: Jay-Z's "New York, New York."
FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?
EAG: It's Doria Camaraza, who is still a SVP at American Express. Doria hired me at Travel & Leisure. She is fiercely loyal, super successful and grounded. She is a self-starter and solution-oriented. She takes control and doesn't let situations control her. She is someone that I know will always give me an unbiased opinion. She juggles her business life and personal life very successfully.