When Wanda Young was hired by ESPN in March 2016, she immediately assumed the newly created post of senior vice president of marketing and consumer engagement. In that role, she oversees the company’s marketing, media, research and analytics, and marketing solutions. She works to ensure that brand, content, data and distribution are marketed with innovation and positioned for growth, while enhancing ESPN’s relationship with fans.
A 20-year marketing veteran, Young’s expertise and stellar reputation precede her. Her use of data and technology to enhance marketing efforts makes her both exceptional and vital in today’s media. “However,” she admits, “having spent a large part of my career focused in the digital space, I found that my subject matter expertise could be alienating to others. I had to develop an ability to translate complex and technical concepts into plain language so I could not only communicate in a normal business setting, but also to gain support and buy-in for critical projects.”
Before joining ESPN, Young was vice president of media and digital marketing for Walmart, where she says she had a career transformation. “I was given the opportunity to develop Walmart’s digital marketing strategy, innovate in different advertising and measurement models, and understand how to serve customers at scale in the digital space.”
“Becoming a leader is a journey I’m on – I’m never finished. Being open to the idea that we are all works in-progress is important because it means you are open to feedback and the idea of constant improvement,” explains Young. “I try to look at past moments in my own development and share those with people I’m investing in, so they realize the long process that all leaders go through. I’m also committed to sharing direct feedback in the kindest way possible in the absolute belief that feedback is a gift.”
Young has four thoughts for women starting their own journeys: “One, be your authentic self. Two, if you’re in a meeting, use your voice and contribute – every time. Three, learn to ask more questions to build your inner curiosity. And four, be fearless. You are the only one who can push yourself to go beyond your comfort zone.”