AfroTech talked to four women who are thriving in their tech careers at IPG-owned Kinesso and Matterkind and working to drive the companies forward in the areas of innovation and diversity.
As important as it is to honor and learn from women who made history and enabled little girls to imagine new possibilities for their lives, we also need to make space for recognizing those who are doing big things right now in their areas of influence. Here are there stories.
Renu Hooda, Global Chief Talent Officer, Kinesso, LLC
Renu Hooda leads employee experiences across the globe at Acxiom, Kinesso and Matterkind. Her primary responsibility is ensuring that people leaders and employees embody the company values and have equitable employee experiences. Hooda started as an actuary with the company, then transitioned to the compensation team at IPG Corporate almost 15 years ago. She says her creativity is unlocked in her pursuit to make sure everyone has the same access to growth opportunities. Kinesso offers several programs for employees to progress professionally and personally, such as reverse mentoring (where junior employees talk with leadership about what’s important to future leaders), bi-weekly learning opportunities and a neurodiversity program. “Our neurodiversity program was such an eye opener for our leaders and employees. We focused quite a lot on ensuring that our managers were equipped to work with our neurodiverse employees, which made them better managers and humans overall,” she says. “As a result, our neurodiverse BIPOC community has won multiple internal awards and have been granted patents.”
Hooda has also taken on helping employees overcome imposter syndrome. “We all know it too well. People from underrepresented groups — particularly women — suffer from imposter syndrome, where they doubt their accomplishments and feel that they’re going to be exposed as frauds. We have been particularly focusing on this by ensuring that our people’s work is celebrated and recognized.”
The employee experiences team created internal awards to celebrate employees’ work and started a career advancement program for Black employees. In 2022, the career advancement program will be open to all BIPOC employees and incorporate career coaches. “Additionally, we continue to have safe space calls with our Black employees to ensure we are hearing their pain points and working with our leaders to eliminate them.”
Yerddy Lanfranco, Vice President of Audience Practice, Kinesso, LLC
Yerddy Lanfranco’s tech analytics role at Kinesso involves helping clients strategize to pinpoint their audiences and partnering with internal teams to create measurement frameworks around research and performance. She said she feels blessed to be part of the marketing sciences
division at Kinesso. “I’ve had the opportunity to work to expand global capabilities centers around the world, manage global resources for the entire marketing sciences team and work with top brands in providing them with holistic measurement via our modeling solutions.”
To advance diversity and culture within the company, Lanfranco leads by example and highlights her team’s work. She created an award for the marketing sciences team to recognize and encourage innovation. “[The award] also served as a team collaboration tool that led teams across the world to work together and showcase borderless values.”
Joanne St. Gerard-Joshua, Senior Counsel, Kinesso, LLC
Joanne St. Gerard-Joshua supports the Kinesso Marketplace partnership team and the Matterkind addressable strategy and operations teams. She drafts and negotiates digital marketing agreements and advises the company on legal issues related to digital advertising. St. Gerard-Joshua has spent her legal career working as an in-house attorney in cross-department and cross-functional roles. After working several years as a transactional attorney at enterprise software companies, she transitioned into marketing technology so she could leverage her full skill set and focus more on data use and privacy issues that permeate every aspect of society. “Digital advertising checked all the boxes, but breaking into martech and adtech was not easy. I had the technology background but not a lot of experience of working in advertising law. I was fortunate to have this opportunity and to have someone believe in my ability and recognize my talents,” she says.
St. Gerard-Joshua got the chance to participate in Kinesso’s career advancement pilot program. “One of the goals of the program is to provide access and representation to the underrepresented talent throughout the organization. The program helped participants identify their career aspirations, strengths and opportunities within the organizations while developing individual growth action plans,” she says.
The program also paired her with career coaches — internal and external — to provide guidance and accountability. “My career coach was a great fit for me. She asked me thought-provoking questions and pushed me outside of my comfort zone.”
As a Black employee, St. Gerard-Joshua knows that her presence and representation on the team matters. She finds it reassuring to see other Black employees, especially women, in leadership roles being valued and recognized for their contributions.
Wendi Dunlap, SVP of Outcome-Based Marketing, Kinesso, LLC
Wendi Dunlap manages media optimization and analytics delivered through the company’s proprietary marketing intelligence engine. She’s also responsible for standing up measurement
and optimization services for a new outcome-based marketing division. “I am designing the future of communications planning through technology,” she says.
Dunlap began her career in the late 1990s as a digital media planner helping clients and agency partners understand the role of digital channels in a communications plan. Once the “Big Data” era of the mid-2000s arrived, she leveraged her background in digital media to focus on data and technology. “The second half of my career has been all about adtech and martech and how the intersection of the two — fueled by data — drives effective omnichannel marketing.”
At Kinesso, Dunlap continues to use her knowledge of big data to help clients serve Black audiences. “Leveraging internal IPG research and external academic studies on Black consumers, I developed an approach for using data to design more accurate and representative Black audiences.” The approach enabled a larger reach of Black consumers for a recent advertising campaign.
As a 20-year veteran in digital advertising and marketing, Dunlap believes the main way Black technologists can succeed is to “pull up their own seat at the table” and build a support network.
“This is not a solo venture. We cannot be successful without one another. Forging community with other Black professionals in tech is key. It really does take a village.”
Learn more about career opportunities at Kinesso, Matterkind and Acxiom. This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Kinesso.