Words of Wisdom: Beth Ann Kaminkow, VMLY&R COMMERCE

Jun 29, 2021

Welcome to Pass the Mic’s series: Words of Wisdom, a unique opportunity to hear from the industry’s leading women on their personal inspirations and discover their advice on advancing as a woman in the audio and advertising field.

Beth Ann Kaminkow is the Global Chief Executive Officer of VMLY&R COMMERCE– WPP’s end-to-end Creative Commerce agency, created from the combined the talent, expertise and scale of powerhouse global agencies Geometry and VMLY&R. Beth Ann is recognized as a leader with a proven record of reimagining retail, as well as creating and designing commercial programs that drive growth at the intersection of physical, digital, and social. She continues to drive innovation in this space with a belief that Commerce holds the most untapped creative potential to grow brands and people.

Check out Beth Ann Kaminkow's Words of Widsom below:

What’s the best advice you were ever given: professional or otherwise?

Being in Marketing, and an avid runner for decades, my best advice came from Nike: Just Do It! I’ve never enjoyed the sidelines as much as the being part of the action on the ‘field!’ I believe that progress and growth come from first showing-up and then getting in the game. It’s the day-to-day commitment, hard-work and relentless growth mindset that’s been my game-plan. I try not to over-think things and have a real bias toward action. I follow what they call in improv: yes, and….! It has always opened possibilities and opportunities for me. Just do it.

What does being a leader for other women mean to you?

For me it is the Madeline Albright quote: there’s a special place in hell for women who do not help other women! One thing I have always admired about the ‘boys club’ is the network, the brotherhood, the willingness to hook each other up and the recognition that this is how you get ahead – together (not some zero-sum game.) I try to lead with vulnerability, giving others a model and confidence to do the same. To see a different type of leadership, a new archetype of leadership that still produces strong business performance. I also try to keep younger women in the ‘game’ during important inflection points when they think it might be easier to opt-out given the other competing priorities in their lives. Just like this pandemic has demonstrated, to this day, it is still more challenging for women trying to juggle work, family, home. And often this is when we lose women from the workforce.

How do you use your “seat at the table” to elevate the other women around you?

Making time for mentorship, sponsorship and coaching can seem over-whelming on top of all of the other work and leadership responsibility, but I find these the most fulfilling. They are what put the meaning into my work. It is a way of creating legacy and tangibly seeing your leadership applied to enabling, inspiring and igniting others. I have been in board meetings and rooms, when succession were being discussed and a qualified woman wasn’t being considered because of a recent baby or other personal circumstance. I championed their candidacy. It made me think about all of those rooms missing women to be a voice of advocacy for other women.

Who was your mentor? If you didn’t have one, who inspired you the most in your career?

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had some strong female role models in my family. Their biggest gift was showing me it was going to be hard, and how to cultivate your own internal voice and north-star to guide you. More than a specific mentor, I have built a strong network around me. Like my own board of directors that I will turn to for an assortment of advice.

The people who inspired me the most are people I will often admire from a distance and learn as much as I can from like Diane Von Furstenberg, Angela Ahrendts, Satya Nadella. This comes in the form of biographies, YouTube videos, podcasts and panels they’ve spoken on etc.

What song, podcast, or audiobook would you recommend to your mentee?

I have ear-pods in as much as possible and have an insatiable appetite for audio. I would say my three most favorite books (and tremendous on Audio are) The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl. They are each timeless and can be revisited at different times for greater meaning and life application. There’s so much evolving at rapid pace that I find reading/listening to philosophy a good foundation to teach introspection and critical thought. I find these books can be mixed with the current events in a way that help me make sense of the present and stay open to continuously learning and growing.

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