Welcome to This Woman’s Work, a series highlighting how various women are advancing the tech industry, both professionally and personally. 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. This month we showcase Tiffany Lee, The Trade Desk’s Senior Director of Inventory Partnerships.
IX: Can you tell us a little bit more about your role at The Trade Desk and how you got started?
TL: I oversee the day-to-day relationships of our top North American-headquartered SSP and exchange partners, including contract negotiation, guidelines and policy, new channel and market launches, as well as liaison with internal and external Technical Account Management, Product, Engineering, Legal, and Finance teams.
I have been in the ad tech industry for the past decade, and media has always been the base currency of all programmatic transactions. My experience working for both buy and sell sides give me insight into how media transactions can be improved more efficiently.
IX: What initially attracted you to this industry?
TL: My mother majored in advertising, so she really inspired me at a young age to admire the importance of marketing and branding. I found myself in the tech capital of the world after graduating from UC Berkeley, and I fortuitously found my way here.
IX: Digital advertising has a reputation for being a bit of a ‘boy’s club.’ How did you navigate that, especially in the early days of your career?
TL: I remember the days when I was the only woman at a conference or in a meeting, and it was hard. I had to remind myself to stand up for the right to speak, let my voice be heard, and most importantly, try to never take it personally. I also have been very lucky to have strong, inspirational, and generous women leaders and peers always surrounding me, and that I have always hadI the greater community to collaborate with and support me.
IX: Further, what advice do you give to other women hoping to break through the glass ceiling?
TL: The road to challenging the status quo is difficult and can feel lonely, but you are not alone. Your voice, your story, and your opinion matters. Always believe in yourself and your own value. If you feel lost, there are so many mentors, leaders, peers, and friends around you who want to support you on your journey to success.
IX: What have been some of the greatest obstacles or challenges you’ve faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
TL: The greatest challenge, for me personally, is to accept that it’s not all your fault. There will always be markets, companies, bosses, or teammates who are never in your corner; there are glass ceilings that will take longer to break. In past companies, I had a former manager give my annual review in an outdoor coffee shop, where the final recommendation was for me to go to therapy to figure out how to work better together. Or, in another instance, I showed up at work and was sent to interview my backfill, except nobody told me in advance. I still professionally interviewed the candidate to make the hire. Each lesson taught me to be stronger and smarter, but more importantly, I learned I had to appreciate and respect myself first.
IX: On the flipside, what have been some of the greatest opportunities your career has awarded you? How did you take advantage?
TL: I was really fortunate Yahoo! sent me to work in Asia for three years. I learned so much, not just about different regional needs and business cultural differences, but also about myself and what I wanted to contribute to the world. When we say “global”, we often mean from a Western European or American viewpoint, but that may not be how the majority of the world’s population lives.
Understanding a global view gives me more perspective, and I have definitely used this knowledge in all of my global roles to date. Now that I oversee Global SSP Partnerships, my APAC background really allows me to think beyond the confines of a US or North American market.
IX: Having worked across a few different markets and regions, how would you say the programmatic landscape differs from place to place (i.e. between the US + APAC)?
TL: Our appreciation of programmatic for desktop display doesn’t translate well into mobile app, television, audio, or OOH, and it becomes even more muddled for international markets. Europe is evolving with post-GDPR and potential Brexit impacts. APAC and LATAM skipped landlines and developed straight into the mobile space. Therefore, programmatic will most likely evolve into parallel paths depending on regional needs.
We sometimes lump EMEA, APAC, and LATAM together, but each country in these regions will have its own requirements and standards. Not only are there different languages and cultural nuances, but local laws, customs, currencies, taxation policies, censorship requirements, data usage, and user preference are also paramount to successfully conduct general business internationally.
IX: If you had to sum up the programmatic industry in one word, what would it be (and why)?
TL: “Dynamic” indicates how susceptible this industry is to change. Programmatic has disrupted the display landscape in the past decade and now forges to disrupt new channels like audio, television, and out-of-home. The industry is also combating new rules and regulations, such as privacy, GDPR, COPPA and ad blocking. I learn something new every day by working in this industry, which is very challenging. but also very fulfilling.
IX: Outside of the office, how do you like to spend your time? What’s on your bucket list (personally or professionally)?
TL: While I’m very social and engaged at work, I like to recharge during the weekends. I can be found being a major couch potato and wandering through seasons of murder mysteries, or out and about exploring museums, farmers’ markets, or new restaurants with friends and family.
On my bucket list, I would like to join the board of a charitable organization and volunteer more often to give back to the community. I would also love to learn another language and travel the world.
IX: And last but not least, what’s your favorite thing about living in the Bay Area?
TL: I love the diversity and the activity of the Bay Area. There is always so much to do, to see, to eat, and to explore. You can join a political rally, attend thought-provoking lectures at academic powerhouses Berkeley and Stanford, listen to the renowned SF Symphony, go to the Outsidelands music festival, eat at a Michelin-starred hole-in-the-wall restaurant, enjoy Napa Valley, see the iconic redwoods, or hike near the Golden Gate Bridge. And of course, the Bay Area is still the epicenter of technical advancement and disruption. The Bay Area definitely has something for everyone, and for me, there is always something new to learn or see!