Women in Mobile. Meet Ani Westrom, One of the Women Game Changers in the Mobile Industry

Ani Westrom, Director, Ad Partnerships & Operations at Zynga at Aarki's Women in Mobile series

Many women are now building a strong industry presence and taking leadership roles as the gender gap in tech industry leadership roles decreases.

To acknowledge and recognize their contribution and get to know them better, we continue our blog series featuring women game changers in the mobile industry. 

Ani Westrom
Director, Ad Partnerships & Operations at Zynga

  • How did you get into the field of digital advertising?
    I studied Business/Marketing at SFSU and I was part of the Marketing Committee for about two years. At the very end of my last year we held a big marketing career fair and I met a digital Ad Company (Jumpstart Automotive Media) who was looking for AdOps interns. That led to a full-time position on their AdOps team as a Behavioral Targeting Specialist. I learned to traffic ads and buy media from our partners. I fell in love with the fast-paced, ever-changing environment. Every day I was learning something new and I was able to move up quickly in the company which made me feel successful at a young age. My friends and family all thought I’d go into Sales because I was a natural at it, but I found myself much more intrigued by the behind the scenes work in Ad Operations. The tight bond that our team had working through issues and celebrating wins was priceless. I’m SO glad I landed in this industry and always recommend it to younger professionals looking for an exciting career path.   

  • What’s the most challenging part of your job?
    As exciting as Ad Monetization can be, it can also come with lots of stress trying to manage all the moving pieces of ad tech, and all the variations within our dozens of partners. It’s a steep learning curve every time we start working with a new partner or when a partner changes their ad tech and we need to react. Once we think we’re in a good place, we get hit with a challenge we’ve never come across before. It happens almost every week or two! That’s the downside of working on a world-class AdMon team. We are on the cutting edge of the industry and constantly trying out new products and new partners.

  • Tell us about the most rewarding moment of your career.
    This is a tough one! One moment that stands out was when Zynga recruited me. I had no idea what I was getting into, but it turned out to be a critical move in my career. As far as the most rewarding goes.. I always think about growing my team and I am so proud of how far we’ve come. We started as a two person team and have grown to ~15 people. I have four reports on my team and am incredibly proud of each one. They are all rockstars and it’s amazing to see such high level talent working with me. The moment I felt in charge was when my Director left Zynga and we didn't re-hire for his role. I had to step up at that moment and prove myself even more. It’s rewarding to see that has been successful!

  • What’s the company culture like in Zynga?
    Fast-paced, hard-working, analyze everything, be your own CEO. Those are just some terms that come to mind. We have dogs all around the office which is a great distraction when you need one. They are all so cute and funny! We are also very lucky to be surrounded by humble people that are always open to help. It’s a lively and positive culture which is one of the reasons I’m still here after six years.
  • What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in digital advertising?
    You may not realize it, but this industry is huge and has a plethora of positions including analyst, ad tech, operations, sales, business development, QA, product, finance, and many more. It’s the perfect industry for someone who is curious, eager, and likes to see immediate results from their actions. And if you want to live on the cutting-edge of excitement, you should consider the gaming vertical. We are looking at our next wave of new ad tech in the form of VR... what could be cooler than that?

    Ani Westrom, Director, Ad Partnerships & Operations at Zynga
  • Where do you find inspiration?
    Honestly, I find the most inspiration from being around the most brilliant and talented people in the mobile and gaming industry right here at Zynga. Outside of work, I find that relaxing with yoga is my favorite way to clear out all the clutter in my mind and reset so that I have room to be inspired by new ideas.
  • How do you balance your work and personal life?
    This is the biggest challenge as I have a growing family of two small kids (3.5 yr, and 15m old) and a new house to manage plus social gatherings with all my family and friends. I balance by prioritizing what is really important to me. For example, I noticed that cooking dinner every weeknight was too much effort while kids were begging for my attention so I decided to outsource with pre-made meal delivery services. Other efficiencies: working out during lunchtime, grocery shopping online while on Bart, and scheduling appointments for personal care on one day that I take off from work every few months. I have the best husband and support system so that helps too!

  • What are you most grateful for?
    My supportive family, and particularly my husband. We share the same life goals and aspirations which makes balancing work and personal life more enjoyable.

  • Describe your ideal weekend.
    Assuming its local, Saturday breakfast at home with my family, followed by a fun activity in summer weather with friends and family, then a nice dinner out with my husband while the kids are with a babysitter. Sunday brunch with girlfriends followed by a movie with the kids and then getting some “me” time to either shop or get my nails done. I love having weekend plans that cover multiple areas.

  • What lesson do you wish you learned earlier in life?
    Failing is OK and makes you stronger. In the past, I was constantly worried that my decision would be the “wrong” one. And while I expressed a lot of my opinions in my career and spoke up every chance I could, I still struggled with making a final decision. Mostly because I was worried it would be the wrong call, and everyone would blame me for it. Today, I still struggle with this, but have learned that failing is OK and people around me need me to step up and make those tough decisions (whether in career or personal life) in order to move things forward.

Topics: Women in Mobile