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This Woman’s Work: Celine Bleu, CBSi

Working women receive a slew of advice — lean in, lean out, be aggressive, but not too aggressive. We’re constantly inspired by the women who are paving the way and taking charge in the ever-evolving world of technology. Welcome to This Woman’s Work, a series highlighting how various women are advancing the tech industry, both professionally and personally.

This month, we’re chatting with Celine Bleu, CBSi’s Senior Director, Programmatic Partnerships.

IX: Can you tell us a little bit more about your role at CBSi? How has your career-to-date lead you to this point and position?

CB: I am on the team that manages programmatic partnerships across CBS Interactive digital properties. 

The definitive moment when I knew I wanted to make a shift to programmatic happened at a sales meeting many jobs ago, when the publisher praised the top salesperson for being able to ‘sell ice to an eskimo’. I realized that what I am passionate about is making mutually beneficial deals and trades, and decided to transition to ad tech. In this role at CBS Interactive, the most rewarding part is forging long-term relationships with partners and watching the business grow as a result.

IX: As your roles and responsibilities have evolved, what would you say has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your career? How did you handle it? What did you learn along the way?

CB: The greatest challenge of my career has been finding what I want to do, as I was never one of those people who knew. 

Now that I’ve hit my stride and am happy in programmatic, there is of course the challenge of being confident in an industry where there are so many unknowns. I’ve been lucky to have strong role models as managers throughout my career and the feedback I have received has shaped me into a better communicator. A former manager once pulled me aside and told me she didn’t want to hear the word ‘sorry’ come out of my mouth ever again. It took some practice to reframe how I present information, but it’s actually simple:  I no longer say: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” but simply “I don’t understand.”

IX: What do you hope the industry will look like in a few years’ time? 

CB: I view data protection and privacy as being a very important right of all citizens and support California’s plan to adopt fundamental privacy rights into law. My biggest hope is that in the next few years our industry has matured along with the regulations, so that we can continue to provide meaningful and relevant ads to the right audiences. 

IX: What’s the culture like in a fast-paced environment like CBSi? 

CB: I’m free to make mistakes and not expected to have every answer. I am also able to speak up whenever I need to. I once interrupted an SVP at CBS, and tried to address this with him afterwards as I thought I had been rude. He told me that not only did he want me to interrupt, he expected me to. That kind of support and empowerment goes a long way in growing in your role.

IX: Bit of a cliché question, but how do you strike a work-life balance?

CB: I used to work for a company where we had as much flextime as we needed. It was well-intended, however, since everyone kept different hours, the emails kept coming 24/7, and as there was absolutely no boundary on when conversations took place, we were all working all the time. 

Conversely, at CBS Interactive, I have been able to strike work-life balance as my team makes it a priority and everyone is on the same page from the top down.

IX: You speak both English and French ⁠— how would you say this bilingual / bicultural understanding has influenced your outlook (if at all), in and outside of work?

CB: I did my master’s thesis on cultural differences in the workplace between France and the US, so I have a very long answer to that question. The short of it is that I believe cultural differences are shrinking in the private sector.

I don’t get to use my French very often, but I’m certain my shining moment will come when I get to Cannes and am able to put in a complicated Rosé order for everyone at the table.

IX: Outside of the office, how do you like to spend your time? What’s on your bucket list (personally or professionally)?

CB: I am a mom of two, so most of my time outside the office is spent with them–I call it my second shift. Both my kids are hugely into soccer, so we spend most of our time on fields in remote California towns…. which is exactly where I want to be.

IX: And, last but not least, what is your favorite CBS show?

CB: 60 minutes – always has been and always will be!

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