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Jinal Shah

Vice President - Marketing

Feather

EA Creative’s Women in Leadership conversation series recently connected Chief members Jinal Shah with Sandhya Jain-Patel and artwork by Eunjoo Byeon, an NYC-based graphic designer and frequent collaborator. Through interviews and artwork we are committed to showcasing women in leadership positions who are making history today. Please send us a message on Linkedin, e-mail us, and share socially to nominate someone in your network.


Sandhya Jain-Patel: Where do you work and what is your current role there?

Jinal Shah: I am VP of Marketing at Feather, the furniture rental service that provides access to stylish, built-to-last furniture without the commitment or upfront costs of ownership. Feather’s mission is to transform humanity’s relationship with material goods to create a healthier and happier planet. Feather is backed by Kleiner Perkins, Cobalt, NEA, Bain Capital, SV Angel and others. In my role, I’m accountable for growth, brand, creative, and communications. We are a young brand, so as a member of our senior leadership, I also share the responsibility of overall business strategy and developing company culture.  

Sandhya: What was a defining moment in your career which has led to your current role?  


Jinal: I’ve made a few strategic pivots in my career that have helped me expand my skill-set, interests, and leadership experience. These pivots are what prepared me and led me to my current role. It wasn’t just one moment - I started my career as a journalist and pivoted to digital marketing inside an agency. After spending the majority of my agency years at world-renowned J. Walter Thompson, I pivoted into a role in e-commerce that required me to develop a GM type mindset. All these pivots have helped me build the necessary leadership experience and both brand and performance marketing experience that led me to this role.

Sandhya: When was a time in your career where it was clear that being a woman made your job more difficult? Are there any times it was easier?  


Jinal: Yes, there were several times that I’ve faced this in my career. Here’s what I learned from it. In the workplace, like most of us, I grapple with multiple identities: a woman, an immigrant, an Indian – all of those identities have shaped who I am and what I bring to the table. I’m damn proud of it and I see this diversity as an asset. Every time I am in a situation where being any of those identities makes my job more difficult, I choose to stay focused on my strengths and remember to assert my voice and knowledge to ensure I am heard and respected.  

Sandhya: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who has helped you in your career, and how did they do that? How have you been able to do the same for someone else?  


Jinal: I have been fortunate to have incredible mentors and also a team of peers who I’ve been able to confide in and get advice from on a regular basis, especially through some of the challenging times in my career such as career pivots, narcissist bosses, etc. It has been very helpful for me to know that the challenges I faced are not unique to me, and that my peers have experienced or, are experiencing them simultaneously as well. We have an informal forum—usually text or SOS phone calls!—and my peers focus on listening to me, they ask thoughtful questions, and help me arrive at a different perspective to the situation. I am also part of a beautiful organization called Future Women X – it is a global tribe of senior leaders across all disciplines led by a group of killer executive coaches.

I’m very grateful for the mentors, peers, friends and resources I have been able to cultivate and invest in. I try to do the same for others. I am affiliated with mentor programs through the CFDA and Parsons. I have also been very active for the last 6-7 years through the ANA’s Advertising Education (AEF) program which connects marketing executives to university students. Lastly, I make it a point to be available for peers and acquaintances who need a thought partner to talk through how to navigate careers. I learn as much from giving back as I do from asking for help.


Sandhya: Who is a historic or living woman that has inspired you?


Jinal: I’m inspired by Padma Lakshmi and Rose Marcario. As an Indian immigrant, Padma has been a tremendous role model for me from afar. I admire that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and her platform. As a woman in business, I’m inspired by the integrity and passion with which Rose Marcario leads Patagonia. Rose is a values-driven leader and she’s set a brilliant example of how social good and capitalism can thrive together

Sandhya: Is there something you would say to your younger self?


Jinal: And kill the suspense? I wouldn’t be where I am had I not made the mistakes or decisions I did. 

Sandhya: What haven’t we asked you that we should and what would your answer be?


Jinal: You mentioned that you’re inspired by Rose Marcario’s leadership at Patagonia. What similar values do you try to instill in your role at Feather?

At Feather we are constantly inspired by Patagonia’s commitment to sustainability, and we have made significant steps towards sustainability within our own business operations. In addition to our model, which allows us to keep furniture in homes and out of landfills, we’ve also recently made a commitment to offering carbon neutral deliveries to our customers. We did the work to evaluate our carbon footprint across our domestic operations which include our HQ and our deliveries. We are offsetting these carbon emissions (about 2500 tons of CO2) by investing in reforestation projects in areas that focus on FSC-certified wood which is what we use in a lot of our products.

We believe that our customer cares about the environmental impact of their everyday decisions, and we want to give them not only a great service, but an opportunity to have a positive impact, as well.


Sandhya: How is the pandemic affecting your work and daily routine? 


Jinal: It has changed, like everyone else, but also infused me with more gratitude than ever before. My team has demonstrated tremendous grit and perseverance in face of daily ambiguity and business challenges which the pandemic has presented. I’m very privileged to lead the team I have and also my colleagues—Feather has created a very collegiate culture—especially the last few weeks, taken extra care to focus on the mental-wellbeing of the team. My favorite part of the routine is the weekly ‘All Paws’ where we sit together on Zoom with our pets and catch-up on non-work stuff. It is the most serene hour in the work week!  

Sandhya: As difficult as it is, has the isolation and social distancing had any unexpected benefits?


Jinal: Absolutely. I believe collectively, we are all experiencing a gentle pause on the chaos of our lives and our minds. Our homes have become so much more meaningful in the last few weeks. Personally, I feel more connected to my friends and family in India and here than I ever have before. From a work perspective, I’ve been intentional in the kind of leader I want to be - decisive, aware, empathetic, and ruthlessly focused. The time to reflect has been invaluable.


Sandhya: Are there specific ways you have focused on staying positive throughout this temporary new reality?


Jinal: I’ve always been a glass half-full kind of person. Channeling any gloom into creative projects has been very up-lifting. Taking my dog, Rey, on long, secluded walks in Central Park has been the highlight of my days – to watch nature unfolding itself around me in all its resplendent glory. But mostly, it is the daily engagement with colleagues and friends over Slack and Zoom that keeps me focused and reminds me that this too shall pass. 


To learn more about Jinal and keep up with her work at Feather, follow the links below.






Lisa Friscia

Chief People Officer

Democracy Prep Public Schools

EA Creative’s Women in Leadership conversation series recently connected Chief members Lisa Friscia with Sandhya Jain-Patel and artwork by Eunjoo Byeon, an NYC-based graphic designer and frequent collaborator. Through interviews and artwork we are committed to showcasing women in leadership positions who are making history today. Please send us a message on Linkedin, e-mail us, and share socially to nominate someone in your network.


Sandhya Jain-Patel: Where do you work and what is your current role there?

Lisa Friscia: I work at Democracy Prep Public Schools, as our Chief People Officer.  

Sandhya: What was a defining moment in your career which has led to your current role?  


Lisa: My role has evolved over time, a result of so many smaller decisions and pivots along the way. One moment that changed how I approach my work was in my second year as a principal. We were working to turn the culture of the school around to be a more positive and warm space, centered in learning. Instead of planning the meetings the way I had in the past, I planned it the way I would plan a Socratic seminar lesson with my students—it was the best meeting we had that year! It was a reminder of two things: first, that leaders need to name the goal, and then step back to facilitate, and second, to remember your strengths as you approach any challenge.

Sandhya: When was a time in your career where it was clear that being a woman made your job more difficult? Are there any times it was easier?  


Lisa: This is a tricky question because I'm not sure it's always clear when gender plays a role. Early on, I found that I was being tone policed. This isn't to say that I didn't have real areas of growth. But I found the way that I was given this feedback—and that males seldom received similar feedback—clearly showed that feedback on tone was often a gendered thing. I learned to take the parts of the feedback that made sense, and worked with those on my "personal advisory board," to grow as a leader. 

Sandhya: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who has helped you in your career, and how did they do that? How have you been able to do the same for someone else?  


Lisa: I've had several, but the one most pivotal is an amazing woman, educator, and leader named Eileen. Eileen had similarly started a high school several years before me in Boston, and was then the Chief Academic Officer of a network of schools. She had literally been in my shoes years before, and offered so many valuable insights. Early in my leadership career, she was hired as my coach and helped me navigate one of the toughest years of my life. She honored the challenges that I was facing but was always honest in her feedback to me. Ten years later, I still call her for advice.  

Sandhya: Who is a historic or living woman that has inspired you?


Lisa: As a history nerd, this a very difficult question! I'm going to go with Ella Baker. She was a Civil Rights activist who led tremendous change through community empowerment. Her ability to empower others to lead themselves has always inspired me in my own leadership. I don't always get it right, but, to me she is the model. 

Sandhya: Is there something you would say to your younger self?


Lisa: Trust your gut on the what, but listen better to determine the how. 

Sandhya: What haven’t we asked you that we should and what would your answer be?


Lisa: I'm not sure what the question would be, but my best advice is to stay curious and embrace your inner nerd! 


Sandhya: How is the pandemic affecting your work and daily routine? 


Lisa: This is one of our busier periods at work, so that at least has stayed consistent!  I do find I am taking more calls, to help stay connected to our team. As for daily routine, I am trying to stay consistent with working out and seeing friends, but shutting off has been a real challenge. 

I've also found I'm spending more time working with several nonprofits. For example, I'm on the Associate Board for Gilda's Club NYC, an organization that provides free services to cancer patients and their families. With social distancing, all of our spring fundraisers have been cancelled, and we're trying to get creative on fundraising for Gilda's members, who are a highly vulnerable group during this pandemic. 

Sandhya: As difficult as it is, has the isolation and social distancing had any unexpected benefits?


Lisa: It has forced me to get creative- in how I do my work, to how I stay active. It's also reminded me to be very grateful- to my sister and brother-in-law, who have adopted me, to my teams who consistently impress me with their dedication and creativity.  


Sandhya: Are there specific ways you have focused on staying positive throughout this temporary new reality?


Lisa: It's easy to stay positive when I know the work that my team and I do will help our schools to be ready to serve and educate kids when they likely need us the most. 


To learn more about Lisa and keep up with her work at Democracy Prep Public Schools, follow the links below.






Christine Lane

SVP Executive Producer - Innovation

McCann New York

EA Creative’s Women in Leadership conversation series with Chief member, Sandhya Jain-Patel, will continue throughout the rest of this year. New artwork for this extended series will be crafted by Eunjoo Byeon, an NYC-based graphic designer and frequent collaborator. Through interviews and artwork we are committed to showcasing women in leadership positions who are making history today. Please send us a message on Linkedin, e-mail us, and share socially to nominate someone in your network.


Sandhya Jain-Patel: Where do you work and what is your current role there?

Christine Lane: I work at the advertising agency McCann New York. I oversee all non-traditional advertising production. For anyone in the business, I usually say, “I produce everything that’s not TV, radio, or print.” In practice, the work includes digital, experiential, emerging tech, product, and art.

Sandhya: What was a defining moment in your career which has led to your current role?  


Christine: There were two moments that led me to where I am today, both of which involved taking a chance on a new adventure. The first was accepting a job out of college to work at a boutique experiential marketing agency. The second was deciding to run a tech start-up. Both decisions were made for practical reasons (I needed a job out of school, I needed stable work during the Great Recession), but they became definitive because of my willingness and openness to take a risk, to try something new and unplanned. I’ve now based my career on leaning into the unknown and learning to thrive there.

Sandhya: When was a time in your career where it was clear that being a woman made your job more difficult? Are there any times it was easier?  


Christine: In my mid-twenties I managed a development team, all of whom were males older than me, some of whom had especially large and sensitive egos. I was up against several challenges. Not only was I younger and female, but I also didn’t have an engineering education which meant I didn’t have the skills to directly instruct my team. What I learned to do instead was empower them. I learned what inspired and motivated them. I learned how to protect them. I learned how to ask them questions so that they could discover the answers for themselves. One of my proudest achievements to date is learning how to guide a team of developers to do their best work and earning their praise in the process.

Sandhya: Have you had a mentor or sponsor who has helped you in your career, and how did they do that? How have you been able to do the same for someone else?  


Christine: As the oldest child of three, I feel I’ve been looking for a mentor all my life! Someone to say, “here’s what comes next, be sure to do this!” And yet, not having this guide has forced me to be comfortable with the unknown, with being the only one responsible for the decisions I make. While I haven’t had an official mentor, unofficial mentorship has had a tremendous impact on the leader I am today – by unofficial mentorship I mean the kind of mentorship that happens organically, sometimes in a moment of need, other times without even realizing it until years later. This informal education has allowed me to accumulate bits of knowledge, adopted from conversations and impressions, that have formed my personal work/life philosophy.


These days, I enjoy working with undergrads who are majoring in marketing and have questions about the industry. Even when life gets busy, it feels good to make the time to have a conversation and offer insight that may help someone in their journey.

Sandhya: Who is a historic or living woman that has inspired you?


Christine: One of the many women I admire is Katherine Graham. In her incredible memoir, she outlined her lack of confidence and distrust in her own knowledge when taking over the Washington Post (how many times have I felt momentarily unqualified in my own life?!). And yet, outwardly, Katherine Graham was fearless. She was the only woman to be in such a high position at a publishing company. She had no female role models and had difficulty being taken seriously by male colleagues and employees and yet, she presided over the Watergate scandal with commanding leadership, sure-footedness, and grace. Ultimately, she became the prominent name in a male dominated industry.

Sandhya: Is there something you would say to your younger self?


Christine: Never stop dreaming.

Sandhya: What haven’t we asked you that we should and what would your answer be?


Christine: Years ago, when I turned in my resignation, I remember my boss trying to convince me to stay by saying how important I was to the company. That moment left an impression on me. My takeaway is this: don’t wait until an employee is leaving to tell them that they matter. Tell them regularly and with gusto so they believe it. Your work matters here. You matter to me. You matter to this business. Everyone deserves to hear this more often than we do.


Sandhya Patel: How is the pandemic affecting your work and daily routine? 


Christine: I know the pandemic has forced many people, parents especially, to juggle even more. For me, it’s forced me to slow down and take stock of where I am right now. It’s easy to get stuck in the same motions without stopping to evaluate why, without prioritizing, and setting boundaries. My hope is to come out on the other side of this pandemic with a clearer understanding of what’s important to me and a commitment to orient my life around these things.

Sandhya Patel: As difficult as it is, has the isolation and social distancing had any unexpected benefits?


Christine: Yes! Would you believe it if I told you my team feels more connected now than prior to the pandemic? Once we started working from home, I implemented Monday and Friday video-check-ins, moments to come together as a team to talk about our weekends, set an intention for the week, and share how our week went with one another. Often an individual’s weekly goal is business related, but sometimes the goal is incredibly personal - something someone would never have shared before the pandemic began. When we go back to the office, I plan to keep these check-ins and I hope we maintain the openness and support we’ve cultivated for each other during this time.


Sandhya Patel: Are there specific ways you have focused on staying positive throughout this temporary new reality?


Christine: There are two things that have helped me stay positive during the pandemic. The first is exercise. I’m the type of person who will always take the stairs but will never step into a gym. The pandemic has been a tipping point for me. Besides creating a standing desk and getting out for walks, I now do online cardio/yoga classes twice a week. Additionally, Julia Cameron, in her book “The Artist’s Way” suggests morning pages: three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. I’m not dedicated enough to do these seven days a week, I’m closer to 4-5, but I admit every day that I write morning pages, I feel better.

Finally, I read a blog post several months ago about the secret to enjoying a long winter, specifically in Vermont where I grew up. Want to know the secret? It has nothing to do with a tundra-proof parka (though this helps). The secret is changing your mindset. I have a friend whose life, while healthy, has been ravaged by the pandemic, and yet, her outlook despite all of the negative right now is positive.

As mentioned in the article, “mindsets serve as an overarching framework for our everyday experiences and they can profoundly influence how we react in a variety of situations.” Our mindset allows an experience to become either debilitating or enhancing. A long time ago I decided I am an ever-optimist and it’s the mindset I still live by today.


To learn more about Christine and keep up with her work at McCann New York, follow the links below.





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