Published on February 27th, 2014 | by thevyne2
#DoWhatYouLove: Lizette Williams
Tell us your occupation– what it is that you love? Senior Brand Manager, HUGGIES and Kimberly-Clark North America Multicultural Brand Strategy
Was this something you always knew you wanted to do? No.
Tell us about your career path prior to your current position. I started my career in strategy consulting and first decided I wanted to be a core part of owning a piece of work versus giving a recommendation. I went to business school and transitioned to a career in marketing. I spent 5 years doing traditional brand management roles at PepsiCo and at the same time became the President of the Pepsi Multicultural Employee Resource Group. I realized I had a real passion for driving diversity initiatives but my career talent was rooted in marketing to consumers. The multicultural brand strategy opportunity came along and allowed me to both lean in to my professional acumen with brand marketing while combining my personal passion around multiculturalism. It seemed like a perfect marriage of the two.
So what was the catalyst? How and when did you decide that this was what you wanted to do? There were several things that happened leading up to my career switch but one of the most meaningful was when I was at a PepsiCo event and saw one of our multicultural marketing leaders addressing a group of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (“MLT”) students. He explained his ability to grow the business with this core segment, while also building sensitivity and understanding for the broader audience to understand this consumer. It seemed like exactly the kind of thing I would enjoy. This executive has since become a very strong industry mentor to me and helped me during the very early stages of my career switch. The Kimberly-Clark opportunity came along and I am the first multicultural marketer to ever join the company. The opportunity to shape and mold such a critical part of the company’s future was really exciting to me above and beyond the function.
What has been most gratifying? I love being able to educate and shape not just the Kimberly-Clark organization, but also the industry. We often hear people complain so much about how multicultural people are depicted in media and now I have a hand in creating a mindset shift and impacting those portrayals. This is so much bigger than selling products for me. I love being able to shed new insight to my co-workers on African-American, Latina and Asian moms – and really I love being able to redefine who really is the “us” in U.S. through the work I am doing.
What advice do you have for women who are afraid or reluctant to follow their dreams? A lot of times when I speak at big conferences and events I have people come up to me and tell me how fearless I am with this magical twinkle in their eye. There is a Mark Twain quote I love that says, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” I think that sums it up perfectly. I, like many women, am sometimes riddled with fear, self-doubt and many of the other things that plagues and stagnates us. That’s just part of risk-taking. I say to them to turn that energy into a compass, not a barrier. Use the presence of fear to fuel your passion, to be your catalyst to work harder and better – and at the end of it, there is no stopping your potential for greatness.
What are you looking forward to most in 2014? This is a big year for me professionally. I am leading the Huggies advertising work across general market and multicultural which is set to launch in early Fall. This will be the first realization of the strategic foundation I have laid in our go-to-market strategy. I am working tirelessly until launch and cannot wait to see the work in the market.