Tech executive shares advice on making big career moves

"There are countless ways to market a product or brand, but the common thread running through them all are effective campaigns that humanize the brand"

Meet Hety McNamara, an accomplished and award-winning marketer with more than 10 years of experience building world-class brands, enabling high-performing teams, and driving business impact.

As Head of Commerce Creative Labs at Meta, she’s responsible for making the shopping experience on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp one of a kind for each of the platform’s 3 billion monthly users. Hety’s big pivot into tech comes after a five year marketing tenure at consumer product goods (CPG) giant Colgate-Palmolive.

How did you get your start in marketing? Was it what you always wanted to do?

I’ve always been drawn to marketing because it opens up a universe of possibilities. There are countless ways to market a product or brand, but the common thread running through them all are effective campaigns that humanize the brand. I started my career as a sales and marketing intern for Johnson’s baby. The excitement and challenge of seeking, finding and developing that personal connection has kept me in marketing ever since.

You’ve worked with some amazing brands in the past. What was the most important thing you learned working at Colgate?

I'm immensely grateful for the formative years I spent at Colgate-Palmolive. As a CPG brand manager, you own everything – not only the go-to-market strategy, but innovation, channels, promotions, pricing and margins. You learn to be a general manager and that sharpened business acumen has proved to be invaluable.

How is working in tech different from your previous experience with well-established consumer brands?

What catapulted my pivot into tech was how fast things move, how much freedom you have to innovate and last but not least - the steep financial trajectory. When I first transitioned into tech, it was quite overwhelming but once the intensity diminished, I realized I had reached my version of work nirvana. I don’t see myself leaving the tech space any time soon!

Many of our readers aspire to be in your shoes- to what do you owe your success?

The through-line in my career has been practicing fearlessness. For me, that means feeling scared yet going for it anyway. Hands down the best way I’ve been able to mentally practice fearlessness is through physical exercise. The benefits to my anxiety-wired brain are tremendous. Also, for inspiration, and enabling me to reach new heights in all aspects of life, I have an immensely supportive partner - my husband! - to thank. Leaning into discomfort and having a support system in place to cheer me on has been the key to my success.

Yoga break between meetings

What are some tips you’d share with your younger self?

Keeping perspective above all - you already ‘made it’ and you are already complete. When you realize there is nothing you can or can not do to change that, you live life more playfully.

Hety at 5 years old

Oh, and I’d also tell her - and anyone who would listen - to get a communication coach! Investing in your voice so that it's heard is paramount in any stage of your career.

What do you think are the most important qualities to succeed in switching to tech?

I successfully transitioned into tech by being persistent, being direct,  and staying networked. Being persistent meant not letting the rejections stop me from continuing to apply. Being direct meant clearly articulating what I wanted, and didn’t want, out of the job I was interviewing for. And staying networked meant not forgetting about all the people that helped me along the way.

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