As the Vice President of Corporate Digital Marketing Worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc., Marisa Thalberg supports the development of world class digital and social marketing across the company’s more than 25 brands.
Starting her career as an assistant account executive at Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, Thalberg’s background spans both the client and agency worlds, including stints as Vice President of Global Advertising at Unilever Cosmetics International, Vice President of Advertising for Revlon, and ad agency account leadership positions for P&G Haircare, Marshalls, J&J, Clairol and Victoria’s Secret stores.
In addition to leading Estée Lauder’s digital and social marketing efforts, Thalberg founded the organization and website Executive Moms in 2002. The site has become a leading social network and content provider for accomplished, multi-faceted women.
“It was of questionable sanity to try to address my own working mom questions by giving myself another career, but that came to be the result,” says Thalberg. As the founder of Executive Moms, she has appeared on The Today Show, NBC, CBS, FOX, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Redbook, and in numerous other TV and print media nationwide.
According to Thalberg, leading the Executive Moms organization has offered her life lessons on doing something out of love, and taught her how to adapt. “It gave me a voice in the world that is very meaningful to me,” says Thalberg.
In 2013, Brand Innovators’ included Thalberg as one of its Top 50 Women Brand Marketers. She was also listed by Advertising Age as a “Woman to Watch” in 2012, and named a “Digital Doyenne” by Cosmetic Executive Women. In 2011, Advertising Women of New York (AWNY) awarded Thalberg an Advertising Working Mother of the Year award.
Thalberg says one of her most gratifying honors was being selected by UNICEF as their iconic representative of US working mothers for their State of the World’s Children report.
Thalberg is a Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude graduate of Brown University. She lives in New York City with her husband David and their daughters Hannah and Avery.
VP of Corporate Digital Marketing @ Estée Lauder
- HQ: New York City
- Apple or Android? Apple
- Age: I’m in my 40s, but age is just a number, right?
- First Car: Toyota Camry
- Hobbies: Singing, reading, blogging & designer bargain hunting
What mobile device can you not live without?
My iPad Air.
Which apps do you use most often for work?
Evernote. I put all my notes in there – work to-do lists, gift lists, trip planning. I love that it’s always with me.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
I love Instagram because of the intimacy of the photos I share and others share there.
I also love that my 13 year-old daughter and friends, and even my 8-year-old use it (responsibly); it becomes another nice point of sharing and connection between us, and gives me a different lens to their world (almost always a good one)!
To me, the fact that not only my daughter – but many of her friends – wished me a happy birthday on Instagram was rather epic at this life stage.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Sadly, my email, sometimes with my eyes barely open.
Take me through your typical workday.
One of the dynamic aspects of my job is that I really don’t have a typical work day; there is a lot of variety given that I work across all of our brands and meet with a lot of companies in the industry.
The only thing that is consistent is that it is always jam-packed and fast-paced.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
As my job is global in scope, I’ve traveled to China twice in the past year and have also been to Paris, London, Vancouver, as well as some domestic travel.
One of the China trips, as well as the European trip, were to deliver on one of the key parts of my role: building our global capability in digital marketing via educating the organization. I really enjoy this.
One of the things I love about working in digital is that it is always changing, so you have to have both the humility and mindset to be a constant student in order to in turn be a teacher of it.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
Wanting our company of amazing brands to be agile and adept enough to continue to find breakthrough, meaningful ways to connect with and engage our consumers, given how fragmented and complex the world has become on a communications level. Then, figuring out how to both scale and adapt around the world.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
I’ve never had a singular mentor, but I have had the benefit of being a sponge of the leadership styles and choices of so many of the different people with whom I’ve worked, who in composite have taught me a lot about who I want to be and equally who I don’t want to be as an executive.
Ironically, the person who has shaped me most was the least corporate person in my life: my mom. It has been a very difficult year for me as I have been learning to cope with her untimely passing, after losing my dad quite young.
My mom was a speech pathologist who primarily worked in schools, and when I would regale her with stories or issues from my work life, her advice often seemed so unsophisticated to me relative to what I saw as the complex reality of my working world. However, the bigger picture, which is only becoming clearer and clearer to me, is that she taught me most how to be true to myself.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
Agility, tenacity, passion, and an ability to distill complicated information in order to connect the dots. And lastly: empathy. I feel it is one of the most undervalued attributes in being a successful change agent within an organization.
You have to first empathize with why people or circumstances are the way they are to make the right case for why and how they should be different.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I’m a closet gamer on my iPad. In down moments, I must say that a few rounds of CandyCrush, Sudoku, 2048 and various word games have proven to be the best instant distraction and stress relief!
Why did you go into marketing?
I went into advertising and marketing largely compelled by my interest in the intersection of culture, media and psychology.
I still love the opportunity to get underneath why people might want what you have to sell, and conceiving the right ways to build those communication bridges.
What other career would you like to try and why?
The other career I almost had was to be a broadcast journalist. I also really wanted to be on Broadway. Now I’m just an ambivalent stage mom.
What does your desk look like?
I love that my credenza is filled with photos of my husband and beautiful girls, and also a now-cherished photo of my mom beaming and waving – she was waving at me while I was up on a stage receiving an industry award. It means so much to me.
What’s the last business book you read?
To be honest, I read so many industry publications (online), that when I read a book, it is generally a great work of fiction. However, I did find Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs fascinating for its lessons about business and creativity.
Not counting your own, what’s your favorite brand?
It’s impossible for me to name one! Although, anyone who knows me knows I am mourning the demise of Loehmanns.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
It’s about a year old, but I only recently saw Brazil’s Recife Soccer Club “Immortal Fans” campaign and was so moved by this as an example of what magic can happen when you have incredible brand love matched with incredible storytelling.