On this episode of the Superpowers podcast, Bill and Chris bring on Lizzie Widhelm, SVP Ad Innovation and B2B Marketing at Pandora. Lizzie is a witty and influential executive in media technology whose experiences as a mother have helped guide her career and vice-versa. As she told the hosts, “Raising boys is like running a sales team. You set clear expectations.” Lizzie grew up living the surfer lifestyle in Newport Beach, California before leaving to study finance and accounting at University of Arizona. Her career path was unique. Lizzie worked as a Hooters server until her early 20s with plans to dive into the finance world post-graduation. Just before going off to New York City to take on Wall Street, a friend urged her to apply for a job at CBS Interactive. She interviewed for an assistant position at CBS Sports Line and took it. That marked the beginning of Lizzie’s media career. “I was pretty good at asking the right questions,” Lizzie told Bill and Chris. That mindset soon guided her to Viviendi Universal, where she worked as Sales Director and met her husband. Together, they left Viviendi together and dove into the world of ad tech. “I’m never focused on my feet being in one spot,” Lizzie said. It doesn’t serve you very well.” After two brief stops elsewhere, Lizzie joined Pandora. Soon after, the CEO of Pandora invited Lizzie to meet at their Oakland HQ. “It was a disgusting office,” she told the hosts, but underneath the surface Lizzie also saw the company’s potential. “The listeners kept coming… I wanted to be where people were.” She developed a strategy for using Pandora as a platform for high-value ad buys. “I felt like we could sell at TV level CBMs if we got the user experience right… I bring that spirit into work today.” Lizzie has worn many hats in the 15 years since she joined Pandora. She climbed from VP of Sales for the West Coast to SVP of Ad Innovation and B2B Marketing. She also leads a small sales team for Pandora’s beta products. “I’ve never let go of my love for being in front of clients and selling products,” Lizzie told the hosts. After hearing Lizzie’s personal and professional story, the hosts determined her superpower is her ability to trust others and gain trust from her colleagues. She’s a decisive leader who achieves goals by driving productivity and innovation with talented people.
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