Lisa Smith-Strother, Sr. Director and Global Head of Employer Brand and Diversity Brand Talent Acquisition at Ericsson, is responsible for leading the Global Employer Brand strategy across her company’s social and digital channels in over 180 countries — so she loves that her workplace is one that encourages innovation.
“Ericsson’s culture fosters your creativity and passion to quickly bring your ideas to life, whether implementing fresh strategies, refining old approaches, or taking on something brand new — there’s investment in the mission and in you to deliver,” she says.
Smith-Strother recently checked in with Fairygodboss and shared her morning routine, her trick for powering down at night, and her favorite advice for job seekers.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I’ve been in my current role for 4 years. Prior to my time with Ericsson, I was the Global Employer Brand Director at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals where I led and delivered employer branding/recruitment marketing strategies, social/digital media, candidate attraction, and onboarding solutions/platforms for 7 years.
What’s the first and last thing you do at work every day?
First, I look at my goals to make sure I’m moving toward them and consider if I need to make slight adjustments. Then, I look at my Day Ahead checklist to see what’s ahead and review what I’ve completed.
I get my mental calisthenics going (or powered down at night) by listening to one of my favorite marketing podcast while on the treadmill.
What’s the most unique or interesting aspect of your job, and what do you love most about what you do?
I was doing marketing for many years before getting in the employer brand space, and I’m delighted to be able to marry employer brand with my passion for marketing. I enjoy localizing employer brand strategies and seeing the results of our campaigns; applying our learnings; and trying new tactics and ideas, such as Twitter ads during certain TV shows, a skill on the Amazon Echo platform, and cool virtual activities; to name a few. I also like the global aspect of my role. I love being able to travel across the globe.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about Ericsson that you think they should?
Innovation is truly in practice at Ericsson. Yes, we are a 5G leader, but we are also the developers of Bluetooth, as well as the language used in the development of Facebook. If you used your cell phone today, you most likely used an Ericsson network, as 40% of the mobile traffic runs on Ericsson’s networks.
Ericsson’s culture fosters your creativity and passion to quickly bring your ideas to life, whether implementing fresh strategies, refining old approaches, or taking on something brand new — there’s investment in the mission and in you to deliver.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
Motivating and encouraging a team during times of great change. And, keeping a team’s eyes on the prize.
What about outside of work?
I’m good at planning community events, activities, parties, and trips for large groups and my family. And, I really enjoy the coordination and getting people excited to take part. I guess it’s like planning a marketing campaign.
What are you trying to improve on?
My patience and work-life balance. Also, a key challenge (and area of improvement) is to not multitask when I’m on the phone. I spend a lot of time on the phone and it’s easy to multitask when you are talking.... but, increasingly studies say it’s not good for your brain to multitask because you aren’t as effective in the long run.
What’s your favorite mistake?
I can’t say making a mistake is a favorite. But, it would have to be early in my career, when I was setting up marketing segmentation ‘buckets’ for a campaign. I didn’t apply the correct selection criteria to a target group. It ended up messing up the campaign and analysis in a terrible way. I often think of that error when discussing segmentation considerations today.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
I’m most proud of leaving my 15 years of marketing expertise in the financial services field for a Recruitment Marketing and Employer Branding opportunity. I was able to successfully transfer my marketing skill set to the HR Employer Branding arena and quickly apply my skills and knowledge — so, whether I was marketing a financial product to an affluent market or trying to recruit a bioinformatic scientist, my marketing strategy and approach were similar.
What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?
I’m currently reading K.L. Hammond’s “Branding: Brand Identity, Brand Strategy, and Brand Development” — it’s a good refresh. I’m also reading “Known” by Mark Schaffer to keep me up-to-date on Digital Personal Branding. For fun, I’m reading “Black Panther.”
In addition to marketing podcasts, I also regularly listen to classic R&B and soft rock. I enjoy watching “Madame Secretary” and “How to get away with Murder.” I’m still a loyal viewer of “Grey's Anatomy.”
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
How about three pieces of advice borrowed from Arianna Huffington? I simply can’t say it any better, and I strive to commit to this myself:
1. Don’t be afraid to fail.
2. Don’t just go out there and climb the ladder of success. Instead, redefine success, because the world desperately needs it.
3. Finally, remember that while there will be plenty of signposts along your path directing you to make money and climb up the ladder, there will be almost no signposts reminding you to stay connected to the essence of who you are, to take care of yourself along the way, to reach out to others, to pause to wonder, and to connect to that place from which everything is possible.
And...the only thing I would add is to commit yourself to continually learn.
Who is/was the most influential person in your life and why?
My parents have been the most influential in my life. They’ve taught me so much, principally, the importance of committing yourself to continual learning and being respectful, humble, and thankful.
In addition to my parents, it would have to be Rosa Parks; her quiet strength and conviction are so inspiring to me. And Shirley Chisholm; her tenacity and forthrightness were amazing at that time. I applaud both for the many barriers they broke and for their pioneering achievements that opened the doors for many black women who followed.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
To be flexible, adaptable, and always open to learn something new. I continue to be a continual learner. I enjoy regularly listening to podcasts, attending conferences, taking classes, reading about my field, and building on my certifications…all to stay well-informed of what’s going on in the digital marketing and employer brand landscape.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
She was incredibly flexible and hands off...but, provided great insight and guidance when necessary. She encouraged autonomy which gave me the space to grow, learn, and engage with leaders at all levels which she heartily supported.
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