An International Women’s Day chat with Stephanie Gutnik

March 8, 2018Harleen Tumber

Ladies – happy International Women’s Day! This day celebrates women’s achievements and encourages us all to reach for gender equality.

At Broadsign, we’re fortunate to have hard-working, talented and passionate women on our team, and we wanted to put a spotlight on one particular woman who inspires us, Stephanie Gutnik.

Stephanie joined Broadsign as a marketing copywriter five years ago, and she quickly worked her way up to vice president of business development. While Stephanie oversees global strategic ecosystems and demand-side partnerships, she is also on the Digital Signage Federation Board of Directors and participates in a collection of other industry committees. Stephanie is an unstoppable force and plays an integral role in shaping the DOOH industry.

We thought it would be a great idea to chat with the leading lady herself and gain some insight on how she became the successful businesswoman she is today.

What highlights and challenges have you faced in your career?

Doing my part in contributing to the global adoption of Broadsign’s platform and appreciation for the digital out-of-home industry has been very rewarding. I have had the opportunity to visit DOOH leaders everywhere from Brazil to Beijing, to identify the unique needs of each geo-market and share common best practices with partners who quickly become friends. I am also proud to have completed a MBA while working full time, and thank Broadsign’s leadership for their support of continued education.

In every career, there are inevitable challenges. Perhaps it is the crossword puzzle enthusiast in me that enjoys calmly resolving obstacles in a quick and satisfactory manner. I used to be agitated by variables out of my control, but actually credit frequent travel woes (delayed flights, lost bags, a hospital visit in Taiwan) with helping me accept the cards that are dealt and play them in my favour.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

It is not uncommon to associate millennials with entitlement, which can put young employees in a bit of a predicament. I was born with a tireless work ethic, which resulted in working as smartly and diligently as possible to prove I did not take my position for granted. I remained “Swiss neutral” on all topics to arrive at quick conclusions and move the agenda forward, until a mentor informed me that I was not hired to be a diplomat but to have an opinion. Embracing my assertive side has been applicable to everything from debating in the boardroom to asking for increased responsibility.

Is there anything you would do differently knowing what you know now?

Blessed – or cursed – with the memory of an elephant, I can think of occurrences that could have been handled differently. Yet the amount of decisions I am proud of far outnumber the errs, which were important learning opportunities. So long as I can maintain that ratio and embrace life’s lessons, I am comfortable continuing in this fashion.

What does it mean to you to be a woman in your position?

While I am completely supportive of initiatives to bolster women in the workforce and society, I hope to demonstrate that the merits of hard work, decisiveness and empathy go beyond gender.

When it comes to women at the top of their game, pop culture has had a tendency to focus on divas and dragon ladies. Sure, “The Devil Wears Prada” was entertaining, but the real female leaders of our world are more complex, honing in on hard and soft skills reflective of their individual talents and quirks. Those I have worked with know that I cringe when called “boss”. I am an advocate for the benefits of a “flat” culture, and believe in unwavering equal respect for ourselves and our peers.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in tech?

If you are intrigued by a career in tech, dive in. The opportunities are vast, from becoming a computer engineer or project manager to sales representative or IT recruiter. Everybody has to start somewhere and often this means arriving on the scene with little experience or background knowledge.

I faced a steep learning curve upon joining Broadsign, which can be illustrated by a product video script from my first week on the job, in which I wrote 1080p as “10 ADP”. This led to a helpful tutorial about screen resolution and of course, a good laugh among colleagues.

Which female leaders do you admire and why?

My mom. Thinking about her selfless love and encouragement could bring tears to my eyes. She (along with my father, who deserves credit for this as well) raised my sister and I to be independent and poised. We were taught that confidence is not derived from appearance or being the best in comparison to others. It comes from being ethical, compassionate and respectful, and giving every task our all.

If I had a bad day in grade school, my mom would not take me for ice cream or buy me a new dress. She would instead remind me that some days will be more difficult than others, and we need to take them in our stride. Such lessons have been instrumental in helping me navigate life. Besides, I don’t need a bad day to justify buying a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

At Broadsign, we’re lucky to have lots of women who inspire and support us every day. So, this International Women’s Day, let’s remember to thank the women in our lives and empower them every chance we get!
Got a minute or two, read last year’s International Women’s Day interview with our CFO, Dana Tunks on how she built a successful career.