5 Questions to Ask the Pioneers of Women in Mobile

Pioneers of Women in Mobile

In celebration of Women's History Month, Aarki sat down with industry trailblazers: Kim Aquino, Kele Song, and Magda Zaręba, three of the pioneers of Women in Mobile, to reflect on their journeys in the mobile industry and how they are successfully climbing up the corporate ladder. 

At Aarki, we uphold the importance of celebrating women and their achievements everyday, and one of the ways we do that is through Women in Mobile. We started this initiative 5 years ago to bring together a community of women in the mobile industry, to share experiences and advice, and to ultimately inspire others to uphold women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Q: How do you approach mentoring in this industry? How have you been impacted by mentoring?

Always build genuine relationships with internal and external people you meet and work with, and find someone you look up to and would like to learn from. I ask for mentorship from people in different industries and fields, including CEOs, product heads, engineers, and even previous managers who I have worked with. It gives me different perspectives on a variety of topics and situations. Lastly, I never forget to follow up and say thanks to people who helped me.

"Mentorship has opened doors for me in terms of opportunities, networking, and learning."

Kim Aquino

I’ve been inspired to take and finish my master’s degree while working, supported by my mentor and manager. Through mentorship, I also explored other areas in programming such as learning SQL, Python, etc. which are different from my skill set.

- Kim Aquino, Director, Partnerships at Aarki

I usually seek mentorship at Chartboost and also interact with leaders in the product management field at various companies. Mentorship at Chartboost has been incredible in terms of giving me specific improvement suggestions and growth opportunities. For instance, when I first switched my role from partnerships to product management, my manager at the time (Maria, Chartboost Co-founder, and former CEO) mentored me on how to lead meetings more effectively.

Mentorship from similar professionals at other companies has given me a lot of different perspectives and inspirations. For instance, when I feel stuck at my day-to-day work sometimes, I will talk to other senior product managers working at other tech companies to seek advice on how to re-prioritize and reshape my work.

- Kele Song, Product Lead, Supply at Chartboost

I think in anyone’s professional career, it is very important to have a person who has deep knowledge about the industry, who personally knows you very well, and guides you through difficult times of your career. Moreover, they will not let you rest on your laurels in the good times. You can call this type of person a mentor or a friend. In my case, it is my friend and my manager who has always been there for me when I needed support and guidance. He was the one who encouraged me to join the mobile advertising industry and who has been challenging me with more difficult tasks and responsibilities since then. Thanks to his presence in my life, I can have continuous growth as a professional. I think we all need such a person in our lives.

- Magda Zaręba, Senior Growth Media Buyer at Huuuge Games

Q: How do you navigate gender bias in our industry?

Mentor young professionals and colleagues regardless of their gender, and provide equal opportunities. And it all comes down to this basic rule, treat everyone with dignity and respect. 

- Kim Aquino, Director, Partnerships at Aarki

One of the frustrating things about the gaming/advertising industry is in representation, especially at conferences. I've learned to just be outspoken and confident in these environments and that helps ensure I have a strong voice.

- Kele Song, Product Lead, Supply at Chartboost

I am the lucky one who has never experienced inequality in a job field. In Huuuge Games, there are 25 women in the whole marketing team (44%) and half of the marketing management are women. However, I can’t say that gender bias doesn’t exist. For years, mobile advertising and gaming were considered male-dominated areas but, it is changing. I can see more and more women succeeding in their careers in this industry. However, women apply more rarely to managerial positions compared to men.

What the recent research shows, and what I have noticed, is that women often need to feel that they match at least 90% of the requirements when applying for a new job or position. While for men, it is completely fine if they fit in only 50-60% of the requirements. The question is: why do we feel less self-confident? I think it is the way we were treated when we were growing up. We were constantly told not to stand out from the crowd and do as we are told. As we can’t change that part of our lives anymore,

"The best thing we can do now is to support each other, encourage other women in our environment to make brave decisions, and to aim higher."

Magda Zareba

And it is a message not only to my female colleagues, but to male colleagues as well. Gentlemen - do it for your female peers, support them and encourage them to make brave decisions.

- Magda Zaręba, Senior Growth Media Buyer at Huuuge Games

Q: What is something that you wish you had known earlier in your career?

Small steps matter. There were times when I felt like I was not progressing in my career because I hadn’t produced big accomplishments or outputs. Now, I understand that all of us need to take the first step, and for small steps to turn into bigger steps. Discipline is key to mastering a new skill and perseverance to finish what you started.

- Kim Aquino, Director, Partnerships at Aarki

I wish I had told the younger version of me to be more confident and outspoken - don't hesitate to speak up and take action. I’ve had a few situations in the past where I didn’t speak up and missed the best timing to start some initiatives.

"Trusting my instinct and vision more, as well as speaking up and acting more confidently, have helped me seize more opportunities."

Kele Song

- Kele Song, Product Lead, Supply at Chartboost

I wish I had more overall self-confidence at business meetings. It was always my biggest professional struggle to speak up, put my thoughts in nice sentences, and explain all I had on my mind to other people. All those aspects came from the lack of self-confidence I had at the beginning of my career. At that moment, I was supposed to understand that I am enough! Nobody expected a person in a junior position to answer questions on the level of a senior employee. If I could change one thing it would be to trust myself and believe in my skills, knowledge, and potential from the very beginning.

- Magda Zaręba, Senior Growth Media Buyer at Huuuge Games

Q: As a leader, what has been the most significant barrier in your career and how did you overcome it?

I’d say managing priorities. In my early years, I was struggling to balance my work, coach multiple teams and grow my skills. There were a lot of things on my plate and pressing issues that needed my immediate attention. To make me more efficient, I learned to manage my time. I schedule weekly meetings and training with my team. As much as possible, I schedule internal and external meetings within specific hours or days only, so the rest of it will be time to focus on my work and grow my skills. I always tell other people that if you are constantly stressed and stuck in meetings, you will never have time to think about new ideas, so free up your time.

- Kim Aquino, Director, Partnerships at Aarki

One of the barriers is prioritization - how to prioritize your time to focus on high-impact initiatives and how to help the company prioritize the right initiatives to achieve the vision. I always remind myself to take one step back, evaluate the big picture, and consciously consider all of the tradeoffs of the decisions I have to make.

- Kele Song, Product Lead, Supply at Chartboost

Q: If you could start your career all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?

I wouldn’t change anything, but I would start early to engage and learn more about data or analytics in my career.

- Kim Aquino, Director, Partnerships at Aarki

If I could have a chance to choose my career path again, I would still choose to start with the partnerships side and then switch to product management, but I would have doubled down a few key PM skills to make myself a more versatile product leader.

- Kele Song, Product Lead, Supply at Chartboost

Definitely yes! I love what I do. It is a very dynamic and challenging industry, so I feel that I learn new things every day. At the same time, you can’t feel too comfortable, because you never know what will happen next. I believe that is the beauty of this industry - you constantly have to reinvent yourself. This is what I love the most!

- Magda Zaręba, Senior Growth Media Buyer at Huuuge Games

Topics: Women in Mobile