You're Invited: OkCupid CMO, Melissa Hobley at XO FoundHERS on July 31

On Tuesday, July 31, XO Group, Inc. invites Alliance for Women in Media members to join their latest installment of their FoundHERS speaker series featuring Melissa Hobley, Chief Marketing Officer at OkCupid.
Melissa has led OkCupid to become famous for its message of inclusion and affirmation, with over 22 gender options and 13 sexual orientation oprions. Most recently, under Melissa's direction, OkCupid has generated buzz around its "DTF" Campaign, encouraging women to define the "F" in DTF however they want, incorporating the company's involvement in the #MeToo movement.  
Check out more details and RSVP here:

March 22nd's "Women in Data Science" was actually a controversial panel topic.

Timely topic? Yes.

Critical discipline? Check.

Interesting? Hmmm. After a long day at work, would anyone deliberately choose to spend their evening talking about data?

But… the AWM was created to help support and educate women in the advertising, media and entertainment space so in the end duty prevailed. Women in Data Science it was.

The night of the panel, three things became evident. Wine makes everything better. Because, you know, wine. Do not doubt the instincts of Jane Lacher, President of the AWMNYC, EVP at Zenith, and our panel moderator. Because, you know, Jane. And any misgivings we had about a night of Data were wrong. Because, you know, well that’s the point… you don’t and neither did we.

With a lineup of strong, smart and feisty panelists, including Alysia Borsa: Chief Marketing & Data Officer at Meredith Corporation, Karima Zmerli, Head of Data Sciences, North America at WaveMaker Global, Jeremy Crandall: Senior Vice President, Data Science, at VM-1 (a Zenith Agency) and Hollis Nymark: MS Data Science Candidate at New York University, we maxed out attendance and were still deep in conversation when it was time to wrap up.


If you weren’t able to join us, and even if you were, below is our panel wrap up and highlights. We will keep you posted on our next event, or keep checking 

1. Data is no longer a spoke on the marketing wheel; it’s the hub.

“Marketing needs to be data-driven,” said Alysia Borsa. At Meredith Corporation, Borsa is uniquely positioned to oversee both Marketing and Data. “It makes sense to bring them both together and centralize.”

Karima Zmerli agreed. “Technology has democratized access to data.” As a result, analysts shouldn’t be considered specialists, but rather integrated team members. “Clients are asking for them at the table,” she stressed.

But just thinking of data in terms of analysis sells the discipline short; Zmerli recently rebranded her department to reflect that. “Data is multidiscipline, not just analytics.” 

“I’m allergic to the term ‘data’ in isolation,” confessed Zmerli. The term “’is overused. It’s losing its meaning.”

Jeremy Crandall also weighed in. “Data is so many different specialties at once,” which is due in part to “technology catching up to our goals”.

Saying that you need ‘data’ in today’s landscape is akin to saying you need ‘content’. Both terms have had their “it” moments and have become saturated to the point of being catchalls. They mean so many things to so many people that they risk meaning nothing (asap, anyone?). Our panelists agreed that to make data (and content while we’re at it) work for you, you need to start with the problem you’re trying to solve. 

2. Know what you don’t know.

A map is useless if you don’t know where you want to go. Likewise, data, in and of itself, can be irrelevant if you don’t know what problem you’re trying to solve.

According to Hollis Nymark, currently studying for a MS in Data Science Candidate at New York University, the first thing students in the program are taught is “to be certain of the problem”. “It’s a bit data 101,” said Nymark.

Moderator Jane Lacher pressed panelists on the types of problems they are being asked to solve with data; the answer probably won’t surprise you. “Who is my audience?” was cited as the most frequently asked client question which speaks to marketers grappling with the volume of consumer data that they have access to via social platforms, publisher data, crm data and on and on. The ramifications and responsibility of collecting such data is a panel for another day, though you needn’t look farther than the national news right now to see why.

Borsa said Meredith has used their data to help clients develop new products as well as advise clients on where best to invest in terms of content development, i.e. identifying topics and trends with long tails. 

3. Data’s best friend is context

Data alone does not answer the “why”. It’s only meaningful in context, Nymark pointed out.

The biggest gap (or opportunity depending on where you’re sitting), is bridging he divide between technology and development, and the business and marketing side. “There aren’t enough people right now who can make that leap,” noted Crandall who built her career helping with that translation. “We need more bridge builders.”

Borsa echoed the sentiment. “We need more storytellers [in data]… people that can understand and translate the so what”. Borsa has trained her teams, even those in the data and technology trenches, to always keep the greater business and clients in mind. I ask “What are you working on and how is it driving the business?” If it doesn’t tie back to the broader goals of the company [or client], “they shouldn’t be working on it.” 

3. Data ownership is… a work in progress.

“Who owns the consumer?” Zmerli asked. “Data is perishable. It doesn’t last long. It’s how we share it that’s important.” Crandell agreed, feeling there was definitely an opportunity “for more cooperation between brands [agencies & partners]” in terms of sharing data. And that makes sense when you represent the media agencies.

But in today’s publishing landscape, consumer data is the secret sauce that helps inform content- and it’s also a source of revenue. “We have a direct relationship with the consumer,” Borsa said, “so the data is proprietary.” They do share, Borsa said, though there needs to be a “value-exchange.”

One thing was unanimous across the panelists: everyone who touches data has a responsibility to protect the consumer, and more transparency is needed.

4. Sage advice for budding Data Scientists?

Alysia Borsa: “Understanding data can be applied to every industry. It’s a transferable skill set.”

Karima Zmerli: “Adapt quickly because data is built off of technology and tech evolves quickly. You can’t stop learning.”

Jeremy Crandall: Lots ofopportunity for those able to ‘build bridges’. Andthere are very few Chief Data Officers…”

A special thank you to the March 22nd panelists:

Karima Zmerli: Head of Data Sciences, North America at WaveMaker Global 

Jeremy Crandall: Senior Vice President, Data Science, at VM-1 a Zenith Agency

Alysia Borsa: Chief Marketing & Data Officer at Meredith Corporation

Hollis Nymark: MS Data Science Candidate at New York University

Recap by Jennifer Villani, AWMNYC Board Member


The Alliance for Women in Media, NYC Affiliate is a professional organization dedicated to women in the field of media in the Greater New York area with an emphasis on peer-to-peer experiences. Through unique events and programming, AWMNYC provides its members the opportunity to make connections both personal and professional who inspire as well as educate. We welcome members that are interested in making authentic connections, sharing their experiences and have a desire to develop themselves professionally.

AWMNYC not only educates, inspires and develops top shelf professionals, but fosters strong business connections and relationships which translate into business opportunities for their employers and their clients. AWMNYC can assist you in your personal and professional development by providing relevant and meaningful relationships and experience for professional women in media.  Join today for the member price of $50 and enjoy discounts to events and invitations to special member only evenings.

Thank you for joining the January Event

AI & Tech, What's Hot for 2018

CES featured over 4,000 companies exhibiting products from emotion sensing robots to Alexa-enabled mirrors. CES has captured the media's, and our, attention this month. Whether you were able to attend or not, the Alliance for Women in Media is bringing insights and the information you need back to New York. Start your year off right, and join us for a dynamic discussion on what are sure to be the trends and fads of 2018.


Catherine Dionne Henry: Interactive Content, Marketing & Partnerships at Palpable Media

Monica Fogg: Product Leader, Watson Advertising at IBM

Carol Rosenberg: Sr. Agency Development Manager at Google 

Elodie Levy: Global Digital Innovation and New Products at Coty

Helen Lin: Digital Investment & Global PartnershipsPublicis Media




Thank you for joining us for our Women’s Leadership and Taking Risk Discussion

We hope you found it interesting and walked away with some valuable ideas in managing your career.  Please join us in thanking our panelists Kristen Metzger, Ife Babatunde, Jamie Petkanic and Courtenay Harry and our moderator, Karyn Detje.

Karyn kicked off the evening with this video featuring Ginni Rometty which really defines how women evaluate opportunities and our own experience. If you missed it, it is a short 3 minute video and worth a look. For the rest of us, it is a great reminder of how we often speak to ourselves. 

For those of you who were not able to attend, you were missed, but not to worry, you don't need to miss out. Be sure to join AWM NYC today and you will have the opportunity to attend our members only Taking Risks workshop session in the fall. 

 AWM NYC will be on hiatus for the summer months, look for more from us in the fall. 

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