Adweek’s Women Trailblazers Talk Inspiration, Career Milestones and Future Victories

This year's honorees include execs from CBS News, Land O'Lakes, Carbon, Universal Standard, Starz, MAC, Goodby and Twitter

Adweek’s Women Trailblazers 2020 include (l. to r.) Dara Treseder, Whitney Wolfe Herd, Padma Lakshmi and Minjae Ormes. Photo Illustration: Adweek, Sources: Carbon, Bumble, Inez and Vinoodh, Visible
Headshot of Kristina Feliciano

When we interviewed our picks for this year’s Women Trailblazers issue, the mood was understandably introspective. Not only was the pandemic reshaping life at work and home, but the nation was (and remains) at a cultural tipping point. While many of us wonder what the future will bring, the women featured here are actively building the future they want—pursuing an end to racial and gender inequality, leveling the playing field and making room for those who might otherwise be overlooked. Here, they talk about career milestones, the people who inspire them, what they’re setting their sights on next and even their go-to songs (hello, Prince and Lizzo). —Kristina Feliciano

(Read Adweek’s feature on trailblazer Gabrielle Union here.)

Whitney Wolfe Herd
Founder, CEO, Bumble; CEO, MagicLab

Courtesy of Bumble

Proudest career moments of all time
Our team’s response to both the pandemic and the tragic racial injustices that have reignited the BLM movement.

Proudest moment of 2019 
Professionally, the unanimous passing of Texas House Bill 2789, which makes the unsolicited sending of lewd nude images punishable by law, was without a doubt our proudest moment. We’re committed to creating accountability in the online world, and this was just the first step. On a personal note, nothing will top giving birth to my first child late in 2019. Becoming a mom has been magical.

Words to live by
Don’t worry about what other people think you should be doing. Find out what it is that you love, and go immerse yourself in that world. Find out what breaks your heart, and go help find a solution. Never be intimidated by what you don’t know.

My next big project/initiative/goal
We have so much work to do to achieve the vision we have for the company and brands, and that’s a “big project” that will occupy my time for the foreseeable future.

What I want to be remembered for
It’s not about me. I want Bumble to be remembered as an organization that made a positive social impact and changed human behavior for the better.

Alex Waldman and Polina Veksler
Co-founders, Universal Standard

Courtesy of Universal Standard

Proudest career moments of all time
Veksler: The day we officially registered Universal Standard as a company. Everything suddenly became a lot more “real.”
Waldman: When we got our very first orders for Universal Standard pieces. Knowing that someone was willing to spend their hard-earned money on something we had made from scratch was very emotional.

Proudest moment of 2019
Veksler: Getting to visit over 20 cities and have dinners with customers in each one in order to be able to open our new 1:1 locations in Seattle, Portland, Houston, Chicago and New York.

Words to live by
Veksler: Bite off more than you can chew, and chew it.
Waldman: This too shall pass.

Who inspires me
Veksler: I am inspired by anyone who overcomes great difficulties through sheer will and hard work. I grew up surrounded by an immigrant community. The work, patience and effort I saw there still inspires me.
Waldman: I am inspired by a lot of different people for a lot of different things. I admire reinvention and fearlessness. I am in awe of people who can get up and dust themselves off so that they can keep going or try something new.

If I could change one thing in the world
Veksler: Peace and justice would be at the top of my list.
Waldman: I know this sounds a bit sappy, but I think everything would be better if everyone felt loved. If I could wave a magic wand and make that happen, I would.

This story first appeared in the July 13, 2020, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe. Kristina Feliciano is the features editor at Adweek.