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To celebrate DISQO’s Anne Hunter being named to Women We Admire’s Top 100 Women Leaders of Connecticut, I talked with her about her journey and women who have inspired her. At DISQO, I work closely with Anne as she’s the executive leader to the enterprise demand generation team, which I’ve helped her to stand up; she also leads product marketing, research and insights, and events. She’s been instrumental in DISQO’s success and revenue growth; she’s a dynamo and a champion for growth and impact who inspires me daily.
Congratulations on being named to such an esteemed list of women business leaders. Can you tell us about women who inspire you?
Early on, my father, who raised me, encouraged me to surround myself with strong women. I’ve had amazing female bosses, from my first internship at Aetna with Leslee Ryan, to working at AOL with Kathleen Kayse, and under entrepreneur Linda Abraham. Colleagues such as Kelly Barrett of Truthset and Andrea Vollman and Jodi McDermott of Dude Solutions have been great sounding boards as well. Of course, working with Tiffany Chelsvig and Bonnie Breslauer at DISQO is a joy!
It’s wonderful to be working in an industry so rich with women leaders, including many on this year’s Women We Admire List, including Radha Subramanyam of CBS, April Jeffries of Ipsos, Juliana Stock of A+E, Claire Telling of Havas, Mandy Walis of OMD USA, Veronica Caceres of MullenLowe Lintas Group, Cara Lewis of Carat, Renee Cassard of Omnicom Media Group, Darline Jean of Matterkind, Meaghan Koppel of Weber Shandwick, Julie Pilon of FCB Health, Amy Junger of Razorfish, Karina Dobarro of Horizon Media, Gia Mauriello of Publicis Health Media, Lisa Utzschneider of Integral Ad Science, Gail Evans of Mercer, Mandy Anderson of the Sway Group, Vanessa Pappas of TikTok, Lorraine Twohill of Google, Melissa Waters of Instagram, Asha Sharma of Instacart, Leslie Berland of Twitter, Jeremi Gorman of Snap and Susan Wojcicki of YouTube, I’m truly honored to be named among them this year.
In your time at DISQO, you’ve had the opportunity to build teams and break new ground in important areas. What are some of your favorite projects?
I’m most proud of the projects where we’ve collaborated as a team to build something unexpected, yet useful for our clients. Perhaps because Marketing teams often have more gender diversity than other departments, you also often find super powers in creative problem-solving in these teams. This increased diversity allows teams to identify solutions from more angles.
DISQO is challenging the industry’s status quo with our consumer insights platform that is empowering clients to understand what people think and do across their consumer journeys. Across all our teams at DISQO, we’re encouraged to create impact through innovation. In fact, challenging convention and communicating in novel ways have helped DISQO’s brand stand out. Some highlights have been:
- X-rays specs for path to purchase
- A kaleidoscope for cross-platform measurement
- Defeat the villains of survey research
- TikTok is All That… And a Bag of Clips
Marketing at DISQO is a team sport with brand, creative, product, demand gen, events, research, and marketing operations all working in unison during Agile sprints to deliver results. When we increase leads and influence sales growth from our efforts, it’s a win for us all.
As a woman in business, have you ever had any moments of insecurity that were learning experiences?
During my career, I’ve rarely been in boardrooms where women outnumbered men. Focusing on the job to be done and staying true to myself is what has created opportunity, no matter who was involved.
Once, when I was at a conference in Malaysia to launch a new product, I had the objective to secure deals with ten top brands who might serve as early adopters and champions. I presented the product on stage and ended my speech by displaying the ten paper contracts I had for brands who wanted to be the first to try it. I was excited as people came up immediately after and signed on and walked away with several deals secured. However, I still did not have a signature from the one global CPG company I knew would accelerate success for the new product’s credibility.
Later in the day, the conference sponsored an excursion to an island for networking and relaxation. One activity was snorkeling in the South China Sea. As an avid swimmer, I excitedly signed up to see and snap photos of the unique corals and fish in the region. Halfway through the activity, I realized I was the only woman, and it was considered strange for a woman to have chosen this activity versus the on-land options. I was concerned I had made a faux pas in what was considered customary in an unfamiliar market.
Waiting for my flight at the airport the next day, an executive from the CPG company I’d been trying to close sat down next to me. He said, “I saw you during the snorkeling event. Underwater photography is my passion, would you like to share photos?” After admiring his amazing shots of fish that I had only captured as blurs, he turned and said, “Oh by the way, do you still have any of those contracts, I’d love for my company to sign on.” He signed the contract right before we boarded. I learned from that experience to be myself – and follow the fish.
Can you share some words of wisdom about leadership?
The best part of being in executive leadership is the opportunity to invest in people and help grow future leaders. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone’s potential and being just a small part of encouraging them to see it as well. When they realize all they can achieve for themselves and the company, a positive feedback loop is initiated and they quickly become top performers. Many people who have reported to me have gone on to become CEOs and entrepreneurs, and I am grateful to have been part of their journey.
The skills I use at work and in my personal life build on each other. Outside of work, I volunteer with students to work on their college applications because helping them to draw out the story of their core values is an exciting process. It’s fun to watch them transition from viewing the process as a chore to an opportunity to celebrate themselves. I’ve also coached Science Olympiad and Science Bowl teams and have enjoyed watching students blossom, pushing themselves to learn things they thought they couldn’t understand, and to compete under pressure they didn’t know they could withstand. Being a mentor is a gift and it motivates me in all aspects of my life.