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Lizette Williams on Being a Meta Marketing Pro, Board Member, and Afro-Latina

Lizette Williams on Being a Meta Marketing Pro, Board Member, and Afro-Latina

Lizette has experienced the biggest leadership growth of her career at Meta. 

Tell us about your background.

I’m a Nuyorican. I was born and raised in New York City but both of my parents are from Puerto Rico. I was raised very culturally as Puerto Rican and grew up immersed in the culture and bilingual. And, clearly, I’m a Black Latina.

I have more than fifteen years of marketing experience at major organizations, including PepsiCo, Kimberly Clark, and McDonald’s.

What is your role at Meta today?

I oversee global solutions marketing. I manage our marketing approach for eight industries, including government and ecommerce across the globe. I run a team of about fifteen people, and we lead that strategy. My team is the engine that determines how we’re going to leverage our ad solutions products to help grow those clients’ businesses.

You have previously spoken about leading with empathy. How has your leadership style evolved since joining Meta?

My time at Meta has seen the biggest leadership growth of my career. This season of my career has really been focused on stretching and developing during a difficult time. Some areas have been consistent to who I am: patience, empathy, resilience, and courage. But major world events meant I had to step up as a leader.

Shortly after I joined Meta in May of 2020, with the pandemic in full effect, George Floyd was murdered. Then there was the January 6 insurrection. And more recently, we have witnessed a difficult moment for big tech and tech workers.

Given that my first global role happened alongside unprecedented events, my leadership has had a significantly bigger scope. It’s a bigger team with bigger impact and bigger stakes, so my skill set was used in different ways. In prior roles, I had been at the forefront of what’s happening, but I’ve moved into this place where I’m putting my team in the driver’s seat and coaching from the sidelines. I have an amazing and capable team and I’ve stretched them in so many ways. Leading such high-performing talent, especially during a tumultuous time, has been an incredible journey.

How has Meta supported you in your career?

Meta has been extremely supportive. I came in as a brand marketer who didn’t know the tech language and Meta’s leadership helped get me up to speed. I’ve had a high level of exposure and I’ve been challenged to grow in new ways. Meta is also one of the most inclusive places I’ve ever worked at. I’ve never experienced this before. I am celebrated for who I am when I come to work. They love the whole Lizette.

Which boards do you sit on today and what are your major responsibilities?

I sit on the board of RealSelf, a healthcare marketplace for people considering cosmetic treatments. It’s like Yelp but for people who are researching elective cosmetic surgeries. I’ve been on their board for almost three years and contribute my marketing, digital, and general management expertise. I’ve enjoyed it and am open to more board opportunities.

What advice do you have for Latinos who want to join boards today?

Preparation is key. Make sure you get leadership experience in other areas and high-level visibility. I was on several nonprofit boards before I was ready for a corporate board. I also ran ERGs at several companies. These experiences got me comfortable with being in that kind of environment.

Also, lean on your network to get that board seat. Except for my first job out of business school, which I got through a recruiter, every job and opportunity since I have likely gotten through networking. I certainly did not get my current role through executive search. For RealSelf, a close friend of mine who is a C-suite executive is friends with a RealSelf C-suite executive. That person asked my friend for candidate recommendations. My friend recommended me. That’s how things happen.

How should Latinos identify the type of board they want to serve on and where should they start?

It’s really just 100 percent networking. I lean a lot on my mentors and on networking. A lot of my mentors sit on boards, and I’ve met a lot of people through the Latino Corporate Directors Association (LCDA). You have to trust people who are doing it already. When I learn about a board opportunity that interests me, I call one mentor in particular who helps me determine if it’s a good fit for me. I’ll tell him the company name, size, and other information and he knows me well so he’s very straightforward. You must be around people who are more experienced and can provide knowledgeable perspectives.

As an Afro-Latina who has made incredible milestones in the tech world, how would you say your background influences your work?

My point of difference is the core part of what makes me successful: the perfect combination of substance and swag.

Substance consists of the things people are going to think make me successful, such as experience, training, and education. True, I can’t articulate certain points or run the organization without that formalized training, but what really drives the difference, and my secret sauce, is the swag. That comes from my lived experiences of being a Black Latina and culturally understanding people who look like me: people of color who drive culture forward and have a finger on the pulse of what’s dope.

There’s this narrative often communicated that we have to emulate white male culture to be successful, and that’s absolutely not true. We can look to the core values of our ancestors. My grandmother cleaned houses in Puerto Rico. I rest on the back of a woman who came to the US with five kids and lived in the barrio in New York City, in the projects, to get her kids ahead. That grit and resilience is my unique point of difference, and it can only come from my ancestry.