Women in Business: Katie Peek, VP of Brand Marketing, Slim Lizzy's

With a career grounded in marketing, Katie brings her extensive knowledge and expertise to lead successful marketing campaigns for Slim Lizzy's. A two-year veteran at Slim Lizzy's, Katie oversees company-wide integrated marketing efforts, which include market research, strategic planning and development, media relations, event management, and channel distribution, to build and generate brand awareness on the local and national level.

Prior to Slim Lizzy's, Katie served as a Business Development Specialist at Hodgson Russ LLP. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communications and a M.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Saint Bonaventure University.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Since the day I was old enough to have a job, I've had one. My mother taught me that if you want something, you always have to work hard to achieve it.

Each job I've had over my career has taught me something different and valuable. One of the most powerful lessons I've learned is must have patience. In today's society most people want everything to happen instantaneously. I've come to realize how imperative it is to set realistic expectations, take the necessary time, and relieve the additional pressure we put upon ourselves to "just get things it done".

I've also learned to that being kind and approachable is essential in all aspects of life, including careers. At times, our jobs can be extremely stressful, and overwhelming. Yet, that does not give anyone the right to be treated disrespectfully. I often remind myself that we all have lives outside of work, and to be able to be compassionate about what else may be going on in someone's life, and my willingness to listen, has always been a win-win situation. This, however, does not mean you should always let people take advantage of your kindness. In fact, another valuable lesson I've learned is you need to "tell it like it is" in a firm, but non-condescending way. I believe people respond better, and respect you more, if you are direct and get to the point of a matter, rather than endlessly dancing around an uncomfortable issue or challenge.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Slim Lizzy's?
I've been very fortunate throughout my marketing career to be able to fully immerse myself in multiple areas of marketing. I've had the opportunity to engage in all areas of marketing such as public relations, social, print, digital, advertising, branding, etc. With those experiences under my belt, at Slim Lizzy's, I apply all that knowledge and hands on experience to create and launch fully integrated marketing campaigns and initiatives to build and generate awareness of the brand, and increase sales, across the country.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Slim Lizzy's?
Slim Lizzy's is fairly new to the market and it still has very limited brand awareness. It's been exciting to launch a product from the ground up. Extensive research was conducted to better understand exactly what women were searching for in a low-calorie, ready to make cocktail. We listened to our target market, and crafted the drink that women want that they can enjoy guilt-free!

We've certainly had our share of challenges during the early stages of development. We aren't the first to market with low calorie, ready to make cocktails. We're competing with celebrity-backed cocktails with millions of dollars budgeted for PR & advertising initiatives. But, we love a challenge. And we've been successful in differentiating our product from the other copycat brands out there. Unlike the other brands that are malt-based, high in sodium and sugar, our cocktails are wine-based, malt & gluten free. We are specifically targeted to women who want to be able to drink socially, without feeling bloated afterwards

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in marketing?
A career in marketing can be very exciting and fun. However, it can also be quite challenging on a daily basis working against in an extremely fast-paced environment, tough deadlines, and the need to balance multiple projects all at once. There are always moving pieces to every project, so it's imperative to stay organized, on-track and calm. If you really want a career in marketing, just know that it can be demanding, but with patience, perseverance, and a positive attitude, it can also be very rewarding. Also, I strongly encourage you to continue to learn. Marketing changes every day. Take any classes or seminars if you get the opportunity, and read articles pertaining to your industry. Stay on top of what is trending in marketing, as it evolves every day.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Simply just work hard. You can't sit back and expect everything to fall into place without setting goals for what you want to achieve, and working extremely hard to reach those goals. Throughout my career, I've worked my way up the ladder by staying focused, never taking the easy path, going the extra mile, and adopting a mentality that with hard work, anything is possible.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
We live in an age where we are constantly connected. Rarely do we ever "unplug" - especially if we work in marketing. With Wi-Fi, the Internet, IM'ing, texting - we are consumed with our phones! I hate to admit it, but I can't think of a time when I don't have my phone on me. I'm constantly checking emails because I want to make sure that I haven't missed anything. However, in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance, you need to know that it's okay to unplug. Just because you can do work at 10 p.m. doesn't mean you have to or you should. Prioritize what's important, and make sure you have time for you.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I am very fortunate that I haven't faced any adversity or negativity being a woman in the workforce, but I know other women do. I do know that one of the biggest issues that many women experience is that that they are not always taken seriously enough. As a result, women feel they need to work extra hard to prove themselves in order to be on a level playing field with male counterparts.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Since I'm still in the early stages of my career, I'm still learning to navigate my mentorship relationships. I've been fortunate to come across a few great ones thus far that have helped me through challenges. It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and forget about the bigger picture, and I believe that's where mentors come in. They provide guidance on what really matters and why.

Those are the relationships worth cultivating.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire the leaders who you don't hear about every day. I have so much respect for strong and inspiring women who are advocates for causes they are truly passionate about, yet are not looking to make the headlines. The ones who stand up for what they believe in; the ones doing what they can to make a difference.

What do you want Slim Lizzy's to accomplish in the next year?
Right now, our main goal is to increase our sales and distribution areas. In the next year, we hope to partner with brands, host events, and increase brand awareness with consumers. We would also like to introduce a new flavor into the marketplace and continue building out our product line.