Five Things You Need to Succeed as a Senior Executive

By : Jill Gray


I’m Jill Gray, EVP of Client Solutions, and below are five things I believe you should know if you want to be a successful Senior Exec.

Prior to VidMob, I spent 8 years at Leo Burnett & Publicis before joining Facebook, where I led Facebook Creative Shop for the UK, Middle East & Africa, with an emphasis on creativity in performance marketing. My goal is to bridge the gap between technology, data, and creativity in order to drive client impact. I’m particularly passionate about building VidMob’s diverse creator community and helping non-profits through VidMob Gives. I live with my husband and two sons in Chicago, where you can often find us at our very own special restaurant & pastificio Tortello.

Below are my Five Things.

  1. There are more gears than just 5th gear. Learn them all and ask yourself which gear is the best gear to move something forward. A boss once told me that while working in constant 5th gear was what had made me successful in the first part of my career, the thing that will get me the rest of the way in my career is by learning the other gears. While I’ve never learned to drive a manual car (much to my Italian husband’s dismay), the analogy made a lot of sense to me. There have been a lot of situations that I have plowed through in 5th gear when the nuance of 1st gear or 3rd gear, or even neutral or reverse, may have been better suited to best get me to my ultimate desired outcome. When you can master these nuanced approaches to problem solving, you are unstoppable.
  2. Listen. I have spent too many moments in my career sitting on the edge of my seat just waiting for the moment to jump in with my opinion, determined that if only people heard me, they would see it my way. But what I wish I knew then is that everyone else is probably thinking the same thing, and no progress is made when the conference room is filled with people who want to talk rather than listen. I work with someone now who starts most conversations with me saying “How can I help you today?” Listening to others is the single most disarming and powerful thing we can do to be more impactful.
  3. No company will succeed or fail based on your vacation, so take the time and shut it off. As a 23 year old, I remember bragging to friends that I had to cancel a vacation for work. Perhaps I naively felt that this was the ultimate proof of my importance. 5 years later I would find myself being asked to start a new job across the globe in just three weeks and agreeing to it despite that meaning only a few days for me to get packed and move in between jobs, once again wrongly associating the need of a boss with my worth as an employee. I’m very happy to work at VidMob where we have unlimited vacation, and where our founder Alex Collmer responded to my request for a month between jobs upon starting with “we’ve survived this long without you here, and I prefer to take the long view on these things. Enjoy your time off.”
  4. There is nothing more important in your career than being in a position where you feel valued and that gives you energy. There was a moment in my career where I felt neither of those things, but it was also the same time as having my first child. Many people told me to just stay put because it would be too hard to change jobs and take on more responsibility as a new mom, but I found it to be too hard NOT to. I am able to show up 1000 times stronger to my kids when I have a job that energizes me. No title, no size of salary, and no amount of job flexibility in the world can make up for a job that drains your energy and hurts your self-confidence.
  5. Always check for your passport before you head to the airport. On my third day of work in a new job in Paris, I was meeting my new boss in Geneva en route to be introduced to my new clients. It had taken weeks to arrange this day of introductions on such high level executive calendars. I forgot my passport, eventually arriving to meet my boss who had been waiting for me in the Geneva Airport Jazz Lounge for SIX HOURS. To this day, he never once gave me a hard time about it, and I hope to show that same grace to others. (Merci Carter Murray!)