A question Yahoo chief revenue officer Lisa Utzschneider gets asked all the time is: How do you manage to balance your high-profile, high-intensity role with being a mum?
Utzschneider is Marissa Mayer’s right-hand woman, responsible for growing Yahoo’s ad sales business. That means developing ad products and plans, meeting with clients, appearing on stage at events, and managing a giant global sales team.
She also has a 7-year-old daughter.
Utzschneider’s tip for anyone else in a similar position of juggling a busy job with trying to do the best in bringing up their children is to “be present.”
She told Business Insider: “Personally, one of my goals is that my 7-year-old never asks me to put my phone down. I make such a concerted effort, when I’m home and I’m with her until she falls asleep.”
Utzschneider calls those times at home her “sacred time” and makes it her mission when she’s in New York, no matter what, to get home to read to her daughter before she goes to bed.
“It’s really important to get your priorities clear and that you also share them so your team understands: ‘Oh OK, so calling Lisa at 7.30 at night isn’t great, but you can call her after 8.'”
Utzschneider says Mayer has been “incredibly supportive” in helping her manage her personal and professional life from “day one” of starting at the company in 2014. Utzschneider joined from Amazon, where she was the VP of global advertising sales for its media group.
“[Mayer] recognises that different people have different work styles and everyone gets to the finish line a little differently. She does what she can to support and nourish that work style and she encourages me to approach the business in the way that I think is the right way to approach it,” Utzschneider said. “I couldn’t say enough about her in terms of how supportive she has been to me in my role and also of our sales organisation.”
But while Utzschneider is in the higher echelons of a supportive organisation now, it hasn’t always been that way during her career.
The 3% Movement recent published a survey about the gender bias and sexism women still experience in the ad industry — from being excluded from meetings, to being less well compensated than their male peers. We asked Utzschneider whether she had ever experienced anything similar.
Early on in her career, Utzschneider used to work for companies on the west coast of the US, while she has always been based in New York, meaning she has been on lots of calls where she is the only woman and/or the only person dialling in remotely.
Utzschneider said: “I remember, early in my career, forcing myself and pushing myself to speak up, to speak often, to make sure I was heard, that I was articulate, that I was contributing to the conversation, to make sure that if I was getting cut off I would call the person out on it. Or speak to them after the meeting and say: ‘Hey, this just happened, and I ask, moving forward, to give me space in meetings so I can speak up’.”
She describes the technique as similar to exercise: The more you do it, the more you develop the muscle, and the stronger you get to the point where it becomes second nature.
Utzschneider added: “I knew throughout my career if I wasn’t able to find my voice it would be very difficult to be successful in a senior level job.”
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