Katie Jansen

Katie Jansen is Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin. AppLovin gives mobile game developers of all sizes the ability to publish, market, and grow their businesses.

Katie joined AppLovin in 2012 and has since been named by Business Insider as one of the most powerful women in mobile advertising. She was previously Vice President of Marketing at PlayFirst, a mobile gaming publisher acquired by Glu in May of 2014. Katie is an advocate for women in tech and workplace equality. She serves as a marketing advisor to organizations including Women 2.0 and Women in Wireless, and mentors women in technology.

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

I’m Katie Jansen, Chief Marketing Officer at AppLovin, a mobile games company that fuels many of the world’s most popular mobile games and game studios. I have been at AppLovin for more than seven years, and I oversee the marketing and creative services team. Since I’ve been here for so long (AppLovin is only 8 years old!), I have seen and helped drive a lot of positive growth within the company. In addition to the teams I run, I’ve also been fortunate enough to help establish AppLovin Cares — a group of employees across all our offices committed to giving back to the community through volunteer hours and donations.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Nope. While I did take time to consider my next moves, I never had a master plan. I found that by working on what I was passionate about, finding great companies and people to work with, and taking time to network and consider my next leap, good opportunities usually popped up. Early on, I started in biotech because it interested me, and then I made a move to online games. Obviously, that’s not a typical transition, but this was 2009 and social games like Farmville had just taken off. I found the convergence of players to this new platform and all that marketing could do with it fascinating. Very quickly that led to mobile games taking off, and now I can geek out on how mobile is driving an economy that didn’t even exist when I first started out 15 years ago. As a marketer, mobile is perfect for me because it moves and evolves to provide so many opportunities to connect with consumers, and my team and I can constantly be thinking about the next best way to engage.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Every job has its challenges. I’ve grown over time not to consider challenges as obstacles, but rather as learning opportunities. One easy example is AppLovin’s accelerated growth — this  always made for interesting changes along the way. I was the first in marketing and now I run marketing and creative services, a team of over fifty people. Determining the best way to grow these teams in a way that contributes to our hyper growth was not always easy or obvious, but it’s allowed us to build a very efficient, skilled and outstanding team who have delivered outstanding results.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

My greatest achievement has definitely been growing the team at AppLovin into the successful marketing and creative services engines that are humming along today. Many of my team members I have today have been with me since the very beginning and it’s a real blessing to not only work with them, but see their growth along the way. I count success here as having the confidence to let these teams get on with the day-to-day and let them take a first stab at solving challenges and overcoming obstacles.

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

My success is directly correlated to the overall success of my team, the managers I’ve had during my career and my peers. My ability to surround myself with a nimble team that is efficient and effective at their jobs has helped me grow the team and the business at AppLovin. At AppLovin every executive is a “working” executive. We are involved in larger business decisions and dive deep on product, design and marketing campaigns. I work to not only lead the team but really be a part of it.

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

Tech is a constantly shifting space, and companies are always pivoting and looking to make a big splash in their respective industries. Be ready to bring new ideas to the table, and be okay dropping a project to pick up something else as a backup. A sense of urgency that isn’t overwhelming is key. And, with a lot of smart people in a room comes a lot of options. Don’t be afraid to take and give constructive feedback. A mentality I always look for when hiring is that hunger to grow and learn. I want to make sure that my team is always looking to iterate and improve on what they last completed.

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

The technology industry has come a long way — even during my relatively short career in this space. This is evident from top to bottom — we have more female leaders now than ever before, and young grads entering into the tech world have less barriers. However, we still have a long way to go. Continuing to give women opportunities to grow their careers and learn from leading are guidelines I like to infuse into the AppLovin culture. This is why I helped found an internal group for women at AppLovin. This group specifically focuses on introducing our employees (mostly female join, but anyone is welcome) to businesses founded or run by women. We’ve had the founder of popular clothing brands, the CEO of a franchised spin studio, and various female technology CEOs come share their story and answer questions about their journey.

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

Offering women and men equal pay is an essential place to start. As is continuing to remove bias in the hiring and promotion process. While representation of women at board level is improving, there is still a lot of work to be done. Ultimately, women need to support other women. Women need to find more ways to engage, help and mentor other women in our industry, and help pave the way for growth. Companies should also try and offer networking opportunities geared toward women gathering and sharing advice and increased education and workshops — whether in the organization or via outside resources.

Currently, 17% of women are 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?

I’d like to see more companies increase adding more women on their boards. Transparency can only help shine the spotlight on how companies can really improve. In 15+ years I am still seeing few changes made toward leveling the gender disparities represented at the board level. Equilar looked at the 3,000 largest U.S. publicly traded companies, and only about one in five board members are women. One in ten had no female representation at all. As an individual, I think there are small actions that business leaders can take that will net a big impact. Whether it’s offering to be a mentor, thinking beyond the traditional means of hiring at entry level, or going into schools to educate the future workforce on your industry and the potential career opportunities.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I read a lot — my favorite books for women working in tech would include The Moment of Lift (Melinda Gates), Dare to Lead (Brene Brown), and Because Internet (Gretchen McCulloch). When I’m in the car, I listen to a range of podcasts but for industry-related content like This Week in Startups or Mission Marketing Trends. When it comes to inspiring others, I recommend the Girl Geek X events, because of its global reach and accessibility.

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