Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Emily Echave (EMBA’22), Global Head of Partnerships and Business Development, The Washington Post

In her role as Global Head of Partnerships and Business Development at The Washington Post, Emily Echave (EMBA’22) develops, shapes, and leads relationships with top global brands in support of consumer and revenue growth. These are typically marketing, licensing, and distribution deals with partners spanning verticals such as technology platforms, streaming video, membership & loyalty, and more. The relationships with the big tech firms (e.g. Apple and Google) are multi-faceted and her team helps keep everything coordinated and moving in the right direction.

What was your first “big break”? Or, what is the most significant experience you have had that has made your success possible?

I had a lightbulb moment when I took the Strengths Finders assessment because it gave me words to describe things I am naturally good at and deeply enjoy – and an excuse to discuss them with others. It turns out I am a Relator who seeks close relationships and teamwork toward a common goal; an Arranger who can orchestrate complex stuff and optimize, turning on a dime when circumstances change; Individualization to see each teammate’s unique qualities and help them work productively in a group; Responsibility to take accountability and do what’s right; and finally Woo for loving the chance to establish an immediate connection with someone new.

The roles I’ve found most rewarding are those in which I am using these strengths on a regular basis. Years ago when I spent a great deal of time managing cross-functional teams, I got to lean into the Arranger and Individualization strengths. Lately, in more of a partnership building and growing function, I’m all about Relator and Woo. Responsibility has been a constant. 

Looking back, most of the recognition I’ve received relates to these areas because they are things I’m especially good at relative to my peers. When I realized this, it helped me see the pattern and focus on the types of roles I’m best suited for and how I can contribute the most. 

What is the most challenging part of your job? What is the most rewarding part?

One of the most challenging aspects of partnership work is that it has to be the right thing at the right time for both organizations to move forward. There are so many factors that can go wrong and derail it. Even a good deal today may not make sense tomorrow. Many things I work on never see the light of day. 

As for rewarding, I’m a big believer in the 1 + 1 can equal 3 concept. It’s really fun to create something with a partner where each side contributes what the other can’t, and together you can do something neither could on its own. 

What is something current you are working on that you are excited about?

I’m excited about exploring and acting on the highest-priority strategic and revenue opportunities from across the company, from how we think about AI to long-standing relationships with Big Tech.

How is the ever-changing media landscape affecting your industry?

The news industry has seen its share of disruption for quite some time: Craig’s List came after the classified advertising business, the internet threw a wrench in the traditional newspaper business model, local newspapers are shutting down at an accelerated rate and creating news deserts, and AI-based technology is changing it all over again. 

Are there any ways that you feel Georgetown especially prepared you for your career?

The Executive MBA program gave me insight into how business leaders across industries think about the challenges faced by their organizations. This is critically helpful in my role of identifying opportunities for partnership. 

What is your best advice to those who are starting out in your field?

I have two bits of advice…and they can be contradictory. The first is to follow your interests – whether they are about the industry, the nature of the work, the functional aspects of what you’re actually doing, the people you’re working with, whatever. The second is to pursue the roles most valuable to the organization. Position yourself to help solve the biggest problems, launch the most ambitious initiatives, lead the experimental projects, etc. When what you’re doing aligns with what’s most important, there’s more riding on the outcome and you’ll have the benefit of the organization’s resources, executive attention, and recognition. 

Best Business Advice Received:

Take the credit! 

I had just led a team in launching a new product line of more affordable travel experiences than the higher-end trips already on offer. It required rallying a cross-functional team of 20 matrix staff, partnering across various functional areas and levels of seniority within a partner organization, and overcoming numerous technical and legal challenges – all on a very aggressive timeline. 

Just after the launch, our in-house counsel Susan Borke, who I was very fortunate to have the chance to work with, complimented my leadership. I dodged and instead cited the great team effort that got us to the finish line. Susan pulled me aside in the hallway and said all great achievements are team efforts and the team leader deserves some of the kudos too! So my advice is to recognize the team and share in the glory.

Trait You Most Admire in People: 

I enjoy surrounding myself with people who have a sense of humor about themselves and can admit when they don’t know something or are wrong. 

Favorite App, Website, Podcast, or Social Platform (other than related to your own company):

I’m on LinkedIn a lot. I follow people in interesting roles across industries – especially those adjacent to mine – and enjoy the exposure to different types of news and information from their professional worlds. Sometimes it also helps me do my job better, whether it’s applying a learning from somewhere else or using the insight into their current challenges to connect the dots on how we might be able to work together for mutual gain. 

Favorite Georgetown Professor: 

Professor Arthur Dong is a master storyteller disguised as a world-class Strategy professor! It doesn’t hurt that I loved the course material too.

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar: 

The espresso martini at Fitzgerald’s is exceptional.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

As a COVID-era EMBA student, our entire first year was online. Things started to open up gradually during the second year and we finally started meeting each other in person. During an on-campus residency experience, a few of us decided to spend the morning kayaking together on the Potomac River by the Key Bridge. It was lovely to get to know classmates in an entirely new setting! 

To read other Alumni Spotlights, click here.