Women Trailblazers Real Advice:

Taking Care of Your Team, Your Family, and Yourself

Our good friend, Rosi Ajjam has been a big part of Marketer Moves from the beginning. Not only is she an incredible marketing innovator (see her article from #TheInnovators series: Boosting Women’s Confidence with Color!), but she has also been a fully-engaged mentee in our Mentor program, working with Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade NY as her mentor. Together, they are two powerhouses who are committed to helping women in their careers and learning from each other. Rosi was kind enough to write down her best tips from her journey to share with you. Thank you, Rosi!

Submitted by Rosi Ajjam, Senior Vice President Global Retail Hair at Coty

I’m sharing some thoughts based on my learning experiences that can be helpful for yourself, for your teams and for your families:

Starting on a personal level:

  • Build your personal brand. It takes a lot of self-awareness to identify what you like, your passions and unique attributes that differentiate you. Define your purpose and vision, your values, and your legacy. Create your personal storytelling. Be ready to reinvent yourself along the way as you live new experiences and learn.

  • Be in the driver’s seat of your career. As you define your North and as you are clear on your passions and strengths, feel confident to ask for what you want.

  • Stay true to who you are. This is probably one of the toughest learnings that I have experienced. At some point I wanted to fit in and be accepted and led me to question my own truth. This experience helped me to re-validate who I am, strengthen my self-awareness, my values, my priorities and to raise my voice for what I believe is right.

  • Always learn from both great and not so great bosses. I have been lucky to work with amazing leaders and bosses. Some of them are now my close friends and mentors. From those that have not been great, I have chosen to learn what not to do.

  • Lead with courage and fight for what you think is right. I operate by conviction, and while one of my principles is to agree to disagree and commit, I also believe that I need to raise my voice, share my point of view and engage into healthy discussions. I value being in environments where this is possible.

  • Networking should be a top priority in your agenda. After settling my family in New York, I realized that I needed to build a new network. Networking in the US is very different from my experience in Latin America, I have worked with coaches and mentors to learn the culture and navigate dynamics. A great learning experience for me. Not better, not worse, just different.

As a leader of others:

  • Caring for people is a top business priority. Building trust, healthy relationships and a positive environment for people to thrive and give their best is the way I operate and deliver results. One of my dear leaders gave me an advice that I never forget ‘nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care’.

  • Keep it simple. Nobody wants to work in a complex business or sell a complex brand. Identify best practices and articulate a business model that captures the principles that are true for the success of your business. Make it easy to understand and build the capabilities needed to execute it.

  • To create a new Culture you must walk the talk. Creating a new Culture is about living behaviors in the day to day, becoming a role model for the people that works with you. A declaration of the Culture is absolutely important and part of the journey, but it is not enough. To truly create a culture you need people, especially the most senior leaders, role modeling it.

  • Diversity & Inclusion drive the business. No need to prove it again, just embrace it.

  • Look at your agency and external partners as the extension of your own team. Build relationships, keep them engaged, make them feel part of your team.

  • Communicate and over-communicate. Start from listening and develop superpowers to listen to the word that is not said.

  • The sky is the limit. Think of possibilities, imagine the future, paint an amazing vision for your team, and then come back to the present and help them to create the path to achieve it.

Finally, as a working-mom or for your family:

  • As a working mom, be proud, your kids are learning from you. I remember my mom as a working mom and a great role model for me, and I always felt proud of my dad having his own business. I’m the oldest of five, probably a natural way of learning my first leadership lessons.

  • I like to see myself as a proud working mom that juggles with my multiple roles in life. I don’t like the guilty feeling from the work-life balance, instead I like the feeling of achievement as I juggle. Only one ball is on my hand at any given time, and it is an art to keep them all together in the air. I’m far from perfect at this, but I keep practicing.

  • Create a family vision, in which you and your partner can thrive and fulfill your individual aspirations. Work together to bring it to life and let that bigger goal guide your individual plans. It is not always easy or perfect, but helps to navigate the opportunities and challenges in life.

I have had amazing mentors, who I admire, and I’m grateful for their support. I have learned so much from each of them. They are like my ‘personal board of directors’. They have different superpowers and each of them has played a different role along my way. Some of my former managers are my mentors today. I thought that a mentor could only be someone with whom I already had a relationship and deeply knew me, but I recently learned that it is also possible to have a mentoring relationship with someone that you are getting to know for the first time.