Elise Connors

Elise’s expertise is in crafting complex digital strategies, with a focus on Conversion Rate Optimization.

With over 13 years of digital marketing experience, she’s passionate about sharing her extensive knowledge with others who are interested in starting their careers. As Director of Marketing Client Services at Happy Cog, Elise is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the agency’s digital marketing (SEO, Paid Media, and Analytics) strategy and execution on clients like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Adelphi University, and Lonza. When not busy with work, Elise is a fan of theater, poetry, and okay, yeah, also reality TV.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m a 13-year veteran of the digital marketing industry. I started out in SEO and worked my way up to learning everything from there. After a few tours around several marketing agencies, I landed in a Director-level role at NYC-based Happy Cog. There I lead the digital marketing team, which consists of Paid Media, SEO, and Digital Analytics practitioners.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Well, I planned to be a corporate attorney. (smile)

When that didn’t work out, I let go of the need to plan. As I mentioned, I started in SEO and just picked up new skills from there as I had projects to work on. It’s what turned me into this “Jill of All Trades,” if you will. I’d venture to say that’s served me well.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

The biggest challenge is being a Black woman in an industry that, like most industries, is dominated by White males. Getting people to take you and your ideas seriously is not the easiest job in the world. That meant I had to make a conscious effort to find places where my voice would be heard and possibly even amplified. It was also helpful to surround myself with people who looked like me. That was a mission of mine in 2018 when I founded Black Folks in Digital, an organization that exists both to help Black digital professionals connect with others in the industry and show young Black professionals that a career in digital makes good financial sense.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

There are honestly too many to list. If I picked a “biggest,” that could diminish the value of the other experiences I’ve had. I feel like every achievement, every rung of the ladder I’ve climbed, I’m stronger because of it. My life has truly been the greatest example of the butterfly effect.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

The biggest factor has been surrounding myself with people who believe in me. Certainly, I am a quick, independent learner, but I only thrive in environments where I’m supported. In environments where I don’t have that support, I’m definitely not going to bring my best self to the table.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Don’t be afraid of uncharted territory. You’ll find the biggest, tastiest fish where there are no other lines. You never know when the smallest opportunity could be a pivotal moment for your career.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are certainly barriers, and until we dismantle the patriarchy, I don’t see that going away any time soon. However, as women, we can be change agents for other women. Stand up for equal pay. Stand up for equal hiring processes. Just stand up.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Listen. Listen to women’s experiences and don’t gaslight them on the backend of them sharing something and being vulnerable.

There is currently only 17 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Get more women in leadership roles. We don’t just need any seat at the table. We need the decision-making seats. And even further, we need women who are supportive of other women in those decision-making seats.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Together Digital is a great organization that offers the opportunity to connect with women across all different career paths in tech. Also, scour Meetup for your local area (once the pandemic is over, that is) to find opportunities to meet people in person. Nothing beats a face-to-face connection.

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