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Women in Business: Meet Elena Gulotta

Posted by Elena Gulotta |

Could you tell us a bit about your background?

Born in New-York city, I now live outside of Boston with my husband and baby daughter. I started at Criteo 8 years ago as an Account Strategist on our Growth Business. There, I had the opportunity to build out a new team to support the tail of our business and along with our team create a new team and role 'Customer Success Manager' to support all Growth clients across all verticals and segments of our business! Two years ago, I moved over to our Enterprise team to be the Director of Account Strategy for all US Account Strategists

What does a Director of Account Strategy in Retail Media do exactly?

I oversee our Account Strategies for Retail Media in the US. An Account Strategist works directly with clients to help them run their retail media campaigns successfully, securing the budget and spending it accurately to trigger strong ad performance and ensure campaigns are working correctly. I lead a team of 40 people, and my job is to ensure they are rightfully empowered and successful in making our clients happy.

So, you built a team entirely from scratch?! How did that happen?

Back in 2016, we had identified a gap in business management, and my manager told me: "We need to figure something out and find a way to scale support to our smallest advertisers. Would you like to give it a try?" I was very nervous as it meant embarking on something nobody had done before. But I was reassured and felt entrusted to do it, so I said yes and finally managed - not alone, obviously - to build what is still today a massive and impressive team at Criteo.

Have you built other teams from scratch since then?

That is what I've been doing over the past year as Director of Account Strategy actually; While not building from scratch, since moving over to the Enterprise Division in 2021, we've been able to double the size of the Account Strategy team, re-organize teams to better support our Small Business customers and created a new role 'Customer Care'. All developments and changes made are meant to put the customer at the center of everything we do and make sure we're positioned to provide the best service possible.

What are the main challenges you faced when doing so?

When building a new structure or role, the first try may not work perfectly, so it is essential to remain flexible and agile, and not get too stuck in what the initial vision was. The key to success is being open and receptive to feedback, whether it's positive or constructive.

What makes a good manager, in your opinion?

To lead with transparency and empathy, and to love what you do! For instance, when I talk to friends outside of Criteo, they are always surprised at how much I love managing people, building teams, coaching and helping them to find their own way. It may sound weird, but I love it when someone I've worked with figures out what they want out of their career and, sometimes, leaves to go forth and conquer. Also, to lead by example; If I show my authentic self, perhaps it will encourage others to do the same.

Is leading with empathy the key to unlocking a team's potential?

Showing you care and encouraging people to do what they love often makes them happier and more effective. As a leader, I think you want people to trust you; it doesn't mean everything has to be rosy, but you can be goal-oriented and push for more, while maintaining mutual respect and trust.

Which insights do you give your team so they can build successful customer relationships?

Whether you are managing clients or employees, the key to a successful relationship is trust. Our clients' success makes ours, just as employees' success makes their managers'. Clients need to trust that we have their best interest at heart, that we are advocating for their needs internally at Criteo, when it comes to product, feature or performance needs. We must be creative when servicing clients to create the right opportunities for them. My job there is to secure the right resources internally, so we can deliver the best service and results to our customers.

If you had to say three things you love about your job, what would they be?

The people; by challenging me, my team, as much as my peers, have made me a better leader and person in some ways. Then, I'd say the management part of my job as I love the feeling I get when I have helped someone grow and build their own impact on a team. And third, I’d say the supportive culture and flexible approach to work Criteo offers. It has been a real game-changer for me as it allows me to be productive in my job without having to make unnecessary sacrifices with my family and personal life. I am amazed by the trust and autonomy we have in our work.

Anything you'd like to add in conclusion?

Perhaps conclude mentioning my role as leader of our Women@Criteo Community and the activities we have organized this year to celebrate International Women's Day. For instance, we interviewed Sherry Smith, our Global Managing Director, together with one of our clients from L'Oreal. Being involved in this community since its start has provided me not only with a creative outlet, but with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It is my "Criteo hobby"!

Elena Gulotta

Director of Account Strategy

The Future is Yours.

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