Women Leading Tech: How Verizon Media’s Kristine Celona Hopes To Strike A Work/Life Balance In 2021

Women Leading Tech: How Verizon Media’s Kristine Celona Hopes To Strike A Work/Life Balance In 2021
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Did you know B&T’s second-ever Women Leading Tech Awards are just a couple of months away? In the lead up to this year’s awards, we will be chatting with last year’s winners to find out what they’ve been up to since claiming their trophies.

Today we’ve got Kristine Celona, who is the Senior Platform Sales Lead at Verizon Media. Last year she took out the hotly contested Sales category.

Have you got your entry in for the 2021 Women Leading Tech awards? Be quick! Entries close soon. For more info click here.

Obviously, last year was the first time we held the Women Leading Tech Awards. What motivated you to enter into the awards?  What was your initial reaction to winning this award? What would be your message to someone who might be hesitant about entering into the Women Leading Tech awards?

I wasn’t planning on entering these awards on my own accord. It was actually my manager who put me forward and I’m so thankful he did.

When I found out that I’d won, it was a total shock and I was truly humbled! I was up against some amazing talent. I’m so incredibly grateful to be recognised by the industry, especially in the woman in tech sales category, which can often be a male-dominated industry.

The entire entry process was also really rewarding. Looking back and reflecting on all of your achievements, thinking of the people who’ve helped you along the way, and just taking a moment out of the day-to-day hustle to recognise your abilities was a great learning experience.

My advice to anyone who’s hesitant about entering these awards is to just do it! It’s a great chance to hit pause and reflect on what you’re achieving every day – even though it might not feel like you’re moving mountains, all the small achievements along the way add up!

We know that a lot has changed in the world since you entered into the awards last year. What has changed for you professionally? How much time do you spend on a computer per day? How do you balance screen time with everyday life?

Professionally a lot has changed, especially in sales. We had to completely change our approach working from home. We’ve dialled down the sales pitch and ramped up being ‘Human and Helpful’ which means putting the needs of people, the industry and the community ahead of yourself. A lot of our people in our industry were doing it tough with reduced hours and salary sacrifices, so being empathetic and providing the service they needed was really important.

Personally, as I’m sure many others have experienced, it’s been a struggle to find that work/life balance! I converted my second bedroom into an office with the intention that at the end of each day I can physically remove myself from my laptop and switch off. That being said, I am still working on the balance. That’s the goal this year! Manage my break times, as I do my workload.

Are there any diversity & inclusion initiatives that you have seen/participated in that particularly stand out for you? If so, what were they and why? What are some structural changes you believe could be made at the education level to help improve diversity and inclusion in the technology space? We’re often told about the business case for diversity. What does this notion mean to you?

I’m very fortunate to work for a company that takes diversity, equality and inclusion very seriously, there’s lots of opportunities for us to celebrate diversity and embrace inclusion. For example, our Culture Force team puts on a monthly ‘Real Talk’ speaker series which engages the Verizon Media team on pressing and current worldwide issues. Everything from climate change, civil rights, to social and racial justice, we hear from a wide range of speakers from different topics and industries including activists, scholars, authors, celebrities, and public figures. Verizon Media also holds open round table discussions where people can chat about their own experiences without judgement.

I’m proud to work at a company that acknowledges we’ve still got a long way to go. The business is investing in making a positive difference and fostering these important conversations.

As an industry we’re still a long way from being completely inclusive and diverse. To me, that will be the day when everyone has a fair opportunity. Decisions will be made purely on your skills and what you can contribute, not based on where you’re from, your age, your gender, etc.

In your opinion, where does technology fit into the creative process? How does your role combine creativity and technology?

I believe technology is the enabler for executing the creative idea effectively, they go hand in hand. It’s about understanding the key business challenge and strategically solving it through our technology, data and insights, always putting the consumer at the core.  Because people do not consume media in a linear fashion, working on an omnichannel DSP that can reach consumers wherever they are, across all ad formats and channels such as native, connected TV, audio, programmatic DOOH, etc, provides the best platform to deliver both creative and tech strategies.

What was the biggest tech innovation of 2020? What will be the biggest innovation of 2021?

I think the most impressive tech innovation in 2020 was the speed at which we adopted to working and living virtually, across the entire planet. Tech has completely changed the way we communicate, relate to each other and stay connected.

Looking forward into 2021, I think the biggest trend to watch is the widespread adoption of 5G. It’s going to enable further innovation in terms of immersive experiences, accessibility, greater connectivity and speed than we have ever seen before. With so many use cases across so many industries, we have an exciting journey ahead!

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