This article is part of Liftoff’s Women in Mobile: Bosses of the Industry series, featuring in-depth interviews with inspiring women in the mobile industry.
Melissa Lertsmitivanta, Marketing Director at realtor.com® (a News Corp company), has had a lengthy career, starting out in Southern California before taking a leap of faith and moving to the Bay Area for an ad tech job opportunity. Though it was a tough transition to leave the comforts of where she grew up, Melissa characterizes the move as the best career decision she ever made, given the vast opportunities the tech mecca of Northern California offered.
Tell us about your current role.
I’m currently a Marketing Director at realtor.com®. I lead the mobile app acquisition and retargeting strategies and initiatives on the performance marketing team.
Walk us through your typical work day.
A typical day starts by checking in on overall campaign performance and ensuring that we’re on target with our KPIs, goals and budgets across the portfolio. My day might also include evangelizing and reporting on our marketing campaigns, and pulling data for executive report meetings or forecasting exercises.
Other days include developing and executing our media strategy, maintaining close relationships with our vendors, or looking for new areas of opportunities.
It’s 2020. What has your career path been?
Honestly, it’s gone by so fast. I actually started my career with a short stint in accounts payable while I was figuring out exactly what I wanted to do. I also spent some time in various marketing roles such as managing social media, being an account executive, and even trying to combine and apply my undergraduate degrees in both psychology and environmental studies into one role. Once I earned my MBA and found myself working in mobile marketing, I loved it so much that I’ve been in the industry ever since.
I moved up to the Bay Area 5 years ago for a role at Electronic Arts where I had the opportunity to work on some amazing mobile titles such as Sim City Build It. Now at realtor.com®, it’s all about helping people find their homes. Over the years, I’ve worked on different business models ranging from subscription services to in-app purchases and now lead generation, across different app verticals.
What is one thing you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
That I am responsible—and the biggest advocate—for my own career path.
Early in my career I relied on my managers to provide opportunities for my career path. While it’s important to have supportive bosses who motivate you, match your strengths and weaknesses, and provide growth opportunities accordingly, it really falls on you to champion yourself, be proactive and be vocal about your own career. I also learned that it’s okay not to have everything figured out and that sometimes you have to pivot along the way.
To advocate for yourself, I think it’s important to be proactive about sharing learnings from the things you’re working on. Being proactive and lending an open hand when it’s needed across more than just your own job responsibilities also goes a long way. Be vocal about what you want, what kind of skills you’d like to work on, projects you’d like to work on, and ask lots of questions to learn along the way.
As a professional woman, what does it take to succeed in today’s world?
Some of the traits to be successful today include:
- Adaptability – you’re going to have to learn different skills and tools, work with different people and projects. If you’re able to adapt, step outside your comfort zone and do things that aren’t a part of your core job responsibilities, it’s a really good way to distinguish yourself and gain visibility, expand your reach and your network.
- Perseverance – you’re not always going to love everything you do or enjoy every project or interaction with people that come your way. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but being able to persevere and get through challenging situations makes you a stronger and better person. Throughout my career I’ve pivoted and had to work within different roles while still figuring out exactly what I wanted to do.
- Proactivity – seek out opportunities and be vocal. Don’t just wait for things to happen. Take responsibility, plan ahead, and find solutions to problems.
- Reliability – people want to work with others they can depend on. If you’re consistent and you deliver, more people will want to work with you, and for you.
- Confidence – it is very important. This is a work in progress for everyone, and I think women in particular tend to experience imposter syndrome more. But having confidence and believing in yourself is really important. You have to have a “fake it till you make it” mentality.
Outside of these qualities, success to me is about recognizing what makes you happy, both professionally and personally, and having a healthy work-life balance. We spend so much time at work, but there’s life outside of that. Knowing exactly what drives you and what makes you happy is how I define success.
If you weren’t in the mobile industry, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t in mobile, I would still be doing something related to marketing. I love how multifaceted marketing is. Being able to surface products and services to people in the world where we have so many choices and influencing them is endlessly fascinating.
I also love candles and scents, given how they have such an effect on mood and creating different ambiences. So I may be inclined to make my own candles and build my own side business.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made and why?
Taking the leap and moving from SoCal to NorCal for an amazing job opportunity. It was a huge change of scenery.
I grew up in Southern California. My whole life has been rooted down there. Sometimes you’ve just got to roll with the punches, take risks, and get out of your comfort zone. I’ve lived in Northern California since and really love it. It also helps that the tech industry is based here.
Can you recall a specific mistake you made and share what you learned from it?
Staying in a job too long where I wasn’t happy was my biggest mistake. I tried to convince myself I was content enough and afraid to make a move, which wasn’t healthy. I eventually recognized this and proactively changed my situation. If you’re not happy, change your situation.
Can you share some self-care habits that help you be the best version of yourself?
I like to make sure that I get enough exercise. My top activities are hiking with friends and indoor cycling classes. Exercise is a huge stress reliever for me. Having activities that help you relax, wind down and reduce stress are super important. I also prioritize quality time with those who are important to me.
To manage work-life balance, I like to maintain a schedule and to-do lists so I can prioritize. Also, learn to say no; you have to have boundaries and know when you’re spreading yourself too thin.
What is a fun fact about yourself that few people know?
I don’t have a middle name. My parents thought that my first and last name being 21 letters all together was long enough.
I also love crime shows like Investigation Discovery, 20/20 and Making A Murderer. The suspense and psychology behind why people do the things that they do is so fascinating to me. I can’t get enough of it.
What is the number one resource you recommend to women?
I don’t have one particular resource, but I think it’s important to have exposure to all sorts of media around topics that either enhance your knowledge of what you’re doing or what you’re really passionate about.
For example, since I’m in mobile, I subscribe to various vendor publications and blogs related to these topics such as App Growth Summit (AGS), grow.co, Mobile Growth Summit (MGS), Liftoff, and other vendor blogs. I also keep up with eMarketer, MMA and others. I use Twitter and Flipboard to aggregate a lot of my news. I also maintain close relationships with my industry friends and draw learnings and inspiration from folks across different industries and verticals.