New York – April Member of the Month, Samantha Muilenburg, Influenster
By She Runs It
Job title and company? Director of Brand Partnerships, Influenster
Describe your career journey thus far.
Like many women in advertising, I found the industry a bit by chance. I went to film school at NYU, where I realized I loved the intersection of creativity and business and set my sights on becoming a film producer. I worked for a year in documentary production, but after I asked a manager for a paid vacation day and she said no (and that I was lucky to have the job), I started thinking that maybe the advertising industry was a place where I could be creative, do business, and feel more supported at work.
I found a start-up called Maker Studios with a mission I loved (to empower content creators), and memorized the definitions to CPM, ROI, etc. to try and make it through an interview for a Sales Assistant role. It worked, and I spent three years on an amazing team where I moved from Sales Assistant, to Account Manager, to an Account Executive, all while the start-up gradually transitioned into the digital arm of The Walt Disney Company.
Right when we were officially moving into the Disney sales team, I decided I wasn’t ready to leave the start-up life yet and was lucky enough to find another amazing company – Influenster. Influenster is a product discovery platform, with a mission to connect consumers to brands and to each other. As a Director of Brand partnerships, I work directly with brands and retailers to drive ratings and reviews and user generated social content. I learn new things daily from my clients and team and absolutely love it!
How has She Runs It helped you personally and/or professionally?
I landed my first role in advertising with no prior experience in the industry. My first task was to take notes during the sales meeting, and I quickly learned I had NO idea what anyone was talking about, much less how to write it down. Later that day I heard one of the sellers talking about an AWNY (the org was Advertising Women of New York at the time) event, and I immediately found the website and joined.
It was one of the best career decisions I ever made. Not only did the She Runs It community help me learn the world of advertising, but my first mentor in the mentorship program helped me navigate (and successfully land) my very first promotion. I quickly became very active with the Young Executive committee, and have developed both an amazing network and great friends that inspire me and keep me excited about my career. Now, as co-chair of the Young Executive committee, I’ve had a chance to develop leadership skills that have helped me grow as a leader at work.
Name a woman who inspires you and why.
Can I say all the Young Executives girls?! We host monthly committee meetings and I always leave inspired by all their ideas, passion, and the ways they are growing their own careers.
Which three words would you use to describe your personality?
Tenacious, curious, creative
As Co-chair of the YE committee, why do you think this committee is something all YE’s should be a part of?
I think as a young person in the industry, it’s easy to get caught up thinking about the senior people you need to meet to grow your career. And while the YE committee does provide tremendous access to senior leaders, I think the best part of the committee is the ability to build relationships and learn from one another. I love our meetings where I can step outside of my silo of the industry and connect with fellow YEs that work as creatives, recruiters, media planners, data scientists, project managers, entrepreneurs. Each meeting is like a breathe of fresh air that re-energizes my day-to-day role. I couldn’t recommend joining the committee enough!
What are some exciting things the committee is currently working on?
We just started planning for our summer Silent Auction, where YEs get the chance to bid for time on top executive calendars. I can’t wait to finalize this year’s list of “VIP” executives we’ll be auctioning off meetings with! And beyond our official She Runs It events, we’re constantly planning happy hours, informal guest speakers, and volunteer events that are always a ton of fun.