Powerful Women in Consumer Technology 2019: June Ip
To see the full 2019 class of Powerful Women in Consumer Technology, please check out the program's home page.
Title: VP, Marketing (Global)
Company: Lenbrook International
Tell us a little about your career history.
My career history is peppered with so many interesting experiences and people; it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve worked in for-profit, non-profit, bootstrapped and venture-funded start-ups, $500 million market cap publicly traded companies, and everything in between. I’ve worked in consumer products, heavy industry, medical and aerospace, ad agencies and sustainability consulting, and have seen a thousand ways to do business. It’s been a wild ride and not the typical linear path that most take, but I’ve learned important lessons at every step and there always seems to be a new and exciting challenge around the bend.
What attracted you to a career in consumer technology?
It was quite accidental, if I’m honest. At the time I first became aware that Lenbrook was looking for a marketing person, my dad was late into his battle with a terminal cancer diagnosis and so I wasn’t actually in the workforce or even thinking about working. I got one of those email notifications from LinkedIn, though, saying an opportunity that fit my profile has come up, and I joked with my husband, who is an audiophile – “Hey, I guess you’d love me more if I worked for NAD, huh?” He actually pushed me to apply, as he knew that I would soon need something to look forward to, and while it was really hard for me to acknowledge that he was right, I did finally apply. My application was audacious, though! I basically just listed all of the audio brands we’ve had over the years – no NAD products, interestingly – because I wasn’t expecting to hear anything from Lenbrook, as surely, there are others who would be far more qualified than me since I had no experience in the industry. But lo and behold, the next day I got a call from John Banks, Chief Brand Officer at the time, and an in-person interview was scheduled for the end of the week. He apparently felt I was qualified!
What are the best initiatives available to attract women to careers in technology—and what hurdles are left to overcome?
I honestly wish there was a silver bullet, but I think the biggest hurdle is one that requires lifelong behavioral learning and access to the personal and professional resources that facilitate that, and that’s a utopic scenario that just doesn’t happen a lot in real life, unfortunately. I have heard from women of all ages who struggle with negative self-talk, and this is also borne out in research studies.
This negative self-talk is what prevents a woman from asking for a bigger raise because she’s either not sure she deserves it or she doesn’t want to be perceived as impolite and ungrateful. Meanwhile, research has shown that men have no issues with asking for a raise – I read somewhere (I forget now where) that men are three times more likely to ask for a raise than a woman and in the instance they both do, the woman asks for 20 percent less than her male peer. This is also the same negative self-talk that prevents women from speaking up if they are experiencing harassment. They don’t want to come across as “too emotional or irrational” and so they question whether they should say anything, and by the time they have had time to process what’s happened and ask around for other people’s opinions of whether their interpretation of the situation was rational, they then worry it’s too late to say anything and that no one would believe them even if they did. This is the same negative self-talk that I experienced time and again when I was volunteering for a high school tutoring program, where the young women I was working with would say things like, “I’m so dumb, I don’t get this,” when they encountered a school project that was difficult for them. Contrast this with their male peers who would instead say, “Why is the teacher giving us such a hard project?”
For a lot of societal reasons, girls and young women are much more likely to internalize and blame their own perceived weaknesses, whereas their male peers are more likely to look for external reasons for why something wasn’t going their way. And this negative self-talk doesn’t go away. Even at my “advanced age” (lol) I find myself having to actively watch for and control the negative self-talk in my head. In fact, when Dealerscope initially contacted me to tell me I was nominated for this recognition, Nancy (Klosek) had to convince me to accept to be profiled because I don’t view myself as powerful at all and questioned the selection criteria – I’m just doing what I was hired to do, so how did my name even come up as a possible candidate? I can name so many other more deserving women in this industry…
What accomplishments are you most proud of in your career?
There are a few, but I think the marketing team I’ve built at Lenbrook is a definite highlight. We’ve become a tight-knit team and we all seem to trust and respect each other, and we have a lot of fun working together even though the pressure to do more and to do better is omnipresent. The team has more or less doubled from when I first started and so the challenge in rapidly growing teams is ensuring that the existing and new team members are all pointed in the same direction without anyone feeling alienated. There have certainly been a few bumps along the way, but I think we’re in a good place right now.