Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Shannon Willett (C‘06), Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy & Operations at Netflix

Our goal is to maximize the impact and reach of our marketing around the world and to operate our marketing business efficiently. Essentially, we figure out how to make all the incredible creative ideas across our marketing teams become a reality in countries around the world and are responsible for helping everyone ladder up to our bigger business goals. Right now I have about 250 people located in countries all across the globe working on our strategies, planning, media, analytics, asset production, campaign execution, internal tools, and much more.

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

I got my first job through a connection I made during my GEMA Externship. I happened to meet a great documentary film producer who introduced me to a friend at a marketing agency. Two years later, when I was ready to look for my first job after graduate school, I reconnected with that agency and ended up kicking off my career there. It was a great example of the power of our network and something I think about as I meet new graduates entering the workforce.

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

The most challenging elements of my job are probably the incredibly fast pace of our business and the global scale of my team. We never sit still. We are constantly looking for ways to improve. My team focuses on helping us improve how we market both locally and globally. With people in timezones across the world, it’s a fascinating challenge to understand our growing local business in every country alongside our global brand. These challenges are also what make the job rewarding. I love the fact that we always want to be better. And when we land a campaign or project that really hits the mark and gets people excited about Netflix or we build a new way of managing our work that makes us more efficient internally, it’s a great experience. I’m incredibly proud to be part of such a talented and driven team.

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

There is always something new and exciting at Netflix, which is part of why I love it. Looking at the next few months of this year, we have what I consider to be one of the most incredible slates of new shows and movies that I’ve seen in my years here getting ready to release. It’s going to be a busy, but amazing end of the year.

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

Netflix has a culture of direct communication and well-informed debate and discussion. Being able to consider and understand multiple perspectives and provide my strategic point of view is critical. I think all my seminars, discussion sections, and philosophy/theology classes prepared me to approach a problem from many different angles, determine my point of view, and then communicate and discuss that with my colleagues. I also learned that in some situations, there is no exact right answer. So we have to make decisions based on the best judgement of what we know and be ready to revisit it.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and learn as much as you can about all different aspects of the business, even if it isn’t directly tied to your day to day. Understanding all aspects of both Marketing and our business in streaming has helped me grow and take on news teams and challenges. And don’t wait to be tapped on the shoulder and invited to provide your POV. If you have ideas or see new opportunities, share them!

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

As a marketer, I need to always remain nimble and adaptive. What worked last week might not work to attract a consumer next week. It’s critical to stay on top of trends, emerging platforms and technology, and to meet consumers where they are with messages that resonate with them and feel authentic to the placement and the person and not like advertising.

Best Business Advice Received:

My dad always told me that success comes from finding a job and career that you enjoy with people you like being around. We spend a lot of time working and I find that I’m happier and more successful when I’m passionate about my work.

Trait You Most Admire in People:

Candor. I greatly admire people who can be direct, open, and honest and show up as they are in all circumstances.

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

It varies based on what I’m looking for. I’m a big Instagram user, but over the last 18 months I’ve also spent a lot more time using Audible on long road trips to visit family or escape up to our place in the mountains and get out of the city during COVID.

Favorite Georgetown Professor:

Professor Sens! My major at Georgetown was Classical Languages and I met Professor Sens on a visit to Georgetown before I became Hoya. I loved the department and was excited to be part of it from that moment. His classes were challenging, but also a lot of fun and he was a great mentor throughout my years.

Favorite Georgetown Restaurant or Bar:

I still miss the California Chicken Sandwich from Wisey’s! I guess it makes sense that I ended up in Los Angeles since that was my favorite.

Favorite Georgetown Memory:

I met my husband at Georgetown during our freshman year in Harbin Hall, so meeting him has to be one of the top!