Rebecca Sanda, '08
Rebecca Sanda, '08, created and currently manages an APAC marketing organization as a corporate initiative to build a global marketing function for the first time in Bloomberg LPs 30-year history. As the Head of Marketing, Asia Pacific & Japan Rebecca is the regional leader and manager of a team of 30 professionals. With a career that has spanned roles in public relations, business development and marketing, read what she has to say about how her experience at Chicago Booth created a foundation to launch her amazing career.
Q: What are some proud moments in your career path so far?
I am most proud of my last four years at Bloomberg. I was afforded an incredible opportunity to start a marketing department from scratch, for one of the world's most iconic media and finance brands - with virtually no experience in a senior marketing role. Today, the business has come to rely on marketing and truly appreciates what my team delivers. We still have more to do, but what we've accomplished to date was unthinkable when I arrived. I am also proud to say that despite all the difficulties in a change-management situation, I have had no resignations. We are a high-performing team of different talents and cultures, and the sum of our parts is stronger than any individual.
On a more personal note, I am also proud of my ability to overcome a near-crippling fear of public speaking early in my career. In my twenties it almost derailed my career as I seriously contemplated only taking back-seat roles that would never require me to speak publicly. Then one day I decided to tackle it. That difficult journey is now a source of strength to me – it instilled in me the type of confidence one gets from summiting a mountain or completing a marathon. I recently had a woman approach me three years after I gave a presentation on the Asian markets to an audience in NY. She remembered what I spoke about and told me how much she
Q: Which experiences from Booth stick out in your mind as the most influential for you?
One of my most influential experiences was a negotiations class in London during an international session where the class was given several scenarios and each assigned a role to play. To learn more about Rebecca and her experiences, click here. The results of each person's negotiation were then shown in stack rank order to the whole cohort of 100 people. It was incredibly eye-opening to see how I fared amongst my peers, discover my negotiating style, and be able to identify the strategies of others. One would never have this opportunity in "the real world" to see how you did by comparison across many teams. What I learned about myself and others was invaluable. That one-week course paid for the whole MBA many times over. It also resulted in untold savings for my company because I can delegate the right people towards different types of negotiation scenarios.
At Booth I also learned the difference between making a good decision versus having a good outcome. Often times, good decisions are made with the available data at a certain moment in time, but the outcome may be poor for reasons that are out of our control. This awareness has served me well in the counsel I give to my Company. It also helps me better evaluate the decisions of my staff.
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced when designing your team? How did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was that even though I was asked to build marketing in Asia for Bloomberg, I wasn't given the opportunity to ask for a complete organization and then go fill it out. Bloomberg had never had a marketing department, instead relying on excellent customer service via a direct sales force. Plus, the Company grew up with a pride in doing things differently, as well as centralizing everything in New York. So adding new skills from the outside, to offices scattered across Asia, was never going to be an easy feat.
These were my guiding principles as my headcount slowly opened up: 1) hire great people who are nothing like me, 2) ensure they focused at least 85% of the time on things they are good at and love to do, 3) do not focus on their weaknesses, instead get others on the team to fill in the gaps of any individual, 4) proactively ask them how I can help, what they need to be happy, what they want to do and endeavor to make opportunities that suit them.
Q: Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 or 10 years?
There are two answers to this question. Geographically, I want to relocate to London or another European capital. Professionally speaking, I am open to different paths as long as the opportunity is compelling. The most obvious path would be to continue on in a marketing career. However, I could also see myself taking on a business role, such as Chief of Staff for a CEO. Managing a marketing organization is more than just marketing. It requires skills that span accounting, HR, managing ROI and budgeting, contract negotiations, market analysis, program strategy, execution, metrics – the full spectrum. With these skills combined with my corporate communications background and my propensity to "tell it like I see it", I could add a lot of value to a CEO's office.