Women in Business: Mollie Spilman, Chief Revenue Officer, Criteo

Mollie Spilman is Chief Revenue Office at Criteo, which she joined in 2014, and leads all commercial operations globally. She has spent 24 years in the media business, with 16 of those years in the digital ad space. Prior to Criteo she was EVP, Global Sales and Operations at Millennial Media and CMO at Yahoo! Her experience also includes the roles of CEO at two ad tech start-ups as well as senior executive positions at other large media companies including Time Warner, Meredith Corporation and Discovery Networks. Mollie has been honored with multiple industry awards, including Mobile Marketing's "Mobile Women to Watch" in 2012 and Ad Age's "Women to Watch" in 2013. She has also served as a Director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Mobile Marketing Association and the Ad Council.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Growing up, I was exposed to many different people, cultures and activities. I developed a diversity of interests - music, art, sports and literature - and aspired to achieve something in each. This translated well into the workplace, where, as a leader, I juggle numerous projects. I tackle them head on and strive to add value daily. It is that experience that has given me the confidence to take risks and embrace new challenges.

One of my hardest life experiences - the loss of a child - also taught me important leadership lessons. I learned to look at life's big picture and focus my energy on what is important. I was naturally empathic from a young age, but this made me even more so. I'm able to manage adversity and truly listen to and consider multiple vantage points, which helps me gain the trust of and inspire others. It also made me understand how critical work/life balance is in establishing a productive and healthy environment, and I try to instill that belief in the people I work with.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Criteo?
In my career, I've started companies from scratch and been challenged to get both employees and customers on board in early stages, relying on vision and a unique offering rather than a mature product. I've also worked at large companies like AOL, Yahoo! and Time Inc. and have learned to navigate corporate cultures and manage international teams. Through these combined experiences, I'm able to help Criteo be nimble and visionary, while maintaining the strong operational structure of an established company.

At Criteo, my main focus is growing our mobile business. Because I've been in the media space for nearly 25 years, with 16 of those spent in the digital ad space, I've seen the industry evolve and have become intimate with the challenges faced by global CMOs. Because I understand the mindset of our customers and partners - marketers, ad agencies and publishers - I'm able to help brands understand and act on the opportunity mobile and cross-device advertising presents.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Criteo?
This is truly one of the best teams I have ever worked with - we've achieved tremendous growth and continued geographic expansion. We introduced a new, cross-device performance marketing product that we truly believe is industry-leading. Helping clients use a product that transparently and powerfully drives revenue for their companies has certainly been a highlight. While this constantly improving and expanding product portfolio is exciting, managing its complexity has also been a challenge.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in the media?
First - never stop asking questions. Every industry evolves and media is certainly not exempt. You need to be hungry to learn and acquire new skills. Use the knowledge that exists within your company, but also look beyond that. Find a mentor. Someone who can help you navigate your industry and career trajectory is invaluable.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Everyone has a different perspective on what work/life balance means. I aim for this balance to be weekly, monthly and yearly. This is what is realistic for me as a part of a global company. Travel, client meetings, big launches and being able to support my team and fellow executives isn't always a nine-to-five job. I acknowledge that, for me, it is not possible to have a perfect work/life balance every single day, but that it can be achieved in the long run.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I mentioned the importance of a mentor. Female leadership has long been an issue in the workplace. In more recent years, it has been brought to the forefront and we've gained high-profile female leaders. These women are role models, which is wonderful, but far too few women in the workplace have a female mentor. Women need to work together and share personal advice and experiences. I believe that having a female mentor is an important and often overlooked part of reaching your full potential.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship has helped me challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. Having a resource to talk through challenges with, gain an outside perspective from, and support me has given me the self-confidence to embrace change.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
The first that comes to mind is Sheryl Sandberg. She's done an incredible job of empowering women and bringing issues for women in the workplace to the forefront through her writing and events. The second is Condoleezza Rice. She has such poise, intelligence and diverse abilities, which is important in any leader.

What do you want Criteo to accomplish in the next year?
I have three specific goals for Criteo. Two are product-related: cross-device advertising leadership in the market and sell-through of our newest email and mobile products. The third is increased global expansion. Cross-device and cross-channel is where the industry is focused and we want to be the company brands rely on for that - no matter where they are and what they do.