Hoya Highlight: Lindsey Kantarian Lee (B’10)

Lindsey is the Senior Brand Manager, at Danone, and has previously served as Senior Brand Manager, at Diageo, Captain Morgan

Time on the Hilltop
Can you speak about the Hoya Network and how it helped you in your career?
Georgetown teaches you the importance of networking, and the relationships you build on the Hilltop last forever. Though I didn’t get my start in brand marketing directly through Georgetown, the networking skills I developed there have helped me get to where I am today. Throughout my career I’ve been able to connect and work with many other Hoyas, which provides immediate camaraderie and, in certain instances, long-lasting friendships.

What was your favorite class or favorite professor?
The group work that is encouraged in the business school applies to everything I do day-to-day so I am grateful for that experience. If I had to pick one professor I would say Jimmy Lynn, specifically his sports marketing class. As an adjunct professor he brought a ton of relevant and real work experience, and the wisdom shared from the many guest speakers he hosted in class left a lasting impression.

What is your favorite Georgetown memory?
I look back on my time at Georgetown so fondly, so it is hard to pick just one! My closest friends to this day all met on the same floor of Harbin freshman year. We started this ritual during that first semester where we would meet at 7 p.m. every single night to have dinner at Leo’s. Having that instant friend-group that quickly became like family is a memory we often look back on. Even recently during quarantine we’ve done virtual “hangouts” and weekly dinners, Zooming in from all over the country.

I also can’t go without mentioning that I met my husband at Georgetown. The experience of him proposing six years later at the corner of 36th and O Street in front of all of our friends was a pretty fun memory from the Hilltop!

What advice would you give your younger self or current Georgetown students?
Don’t worry so much. This applies to both life and career. There are many personal and professional choices we have to make, each of which generate new opportunities and learning moments. You will get to where you need to be eventually as long as you continue to work hard and build your network.

How has Georgetown shaped you?
At Georgetown, you’re surrounded by many driven individuals who share a very strong work ethic but also know the importance of having fun. That combination of hard work and fun-loving nature has stayed with me through my career. As I was working with the Captain Morgan brand during my time at Diageo, I would often use my experiences at Georgetown. Our brand purpose focused on championing the power of fun (something that’s especially important right now). It’s easy to get bogged down in work, but it’s also important to disconnect, celebrate moments with friends, and enjoy yourself.

Career Reflections
What is the best career advice you have ever received?
Lean into the mentality of doing what you love. I have always gravitated towards working amongst purpose-driven brands in my career which motivates me to work that much harder to have a positive impact on the world. At Danone (the parent company of brands including Activia Yogurt, Evian water, etc.), our mission is to bring health through food to as many people as possible—more specifically on Activia powering gut-health from the inside to help women thrive.

What is the hardest thing you have done professionally?
Making the decision to leave a company and team of coworkers I believe in to embark on a new challenge is very hard. It can feel risky and uncomfortable but there is also something motivating in realizing that this is what makes you grow. In my experience these jumps have been the most rewarding in my career.

What trends are you seeing in your industry?
Brand marketing is undergoing a seismic shift—not only as it pertains to consumption habits, but also in the way we are delivering our marketing message. As our brand is exploring launching a new product innovation next year, we are re-looking at all facets of our marketing model to make sure we are successfully delivering amongst consumer needs in addition to making sure our message is reaching consumers. It is safe to say that 2020 especially has made the world of marketing an exciting challenge to tackle on a daily basis!

What’s an unexpected insight you’ve learned along the way in your career?
I’ve learned a lot about the power of mentorship, and have dispelled some of my misconceptions about the mentor-mentee relationship through conversations and relationships with colleagues. I always asked for conversations with colleagues I wanted to learn from, even though at times it was intimidating to do so when I was in junior level roles. But, having these conversions led to developing mentors and creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Those more informal connections with people you can relate to (both on a mentor and mentee level) are invaluable.

A Day in the Life
What does your work space look like and what is a normal day for you?
Starting my new job at Danone with a 1-year-old at home during a pandemic was a bit chaotic! Consistently tag-teaming childcare and fighting for the one office space in our house only lasted so long. It didn’t take us long to realize that this is the new normal so we’ve since found ways to adapt that are working well for our family.

We now have a great routine with our daughter and our silver lining is being able to spend more time with her. We often eat an early breakfast as a family and then I get in some form of a workout. I start my work day at 8:30 a.m., and spend a lot of the day on Zoom meetings. It’s also important for me to take a break to reset at some point during the day, even if it’s just a short walk around the block!

Is there a part of your daily routine you cannot live without?
I need to get in some form of a workout every day. Sometimes it’s only 15 minutes, but it really helps clear my mind. I have a Peloton which has been great, and I love going for walks with my daughter. During the pandemic this has also helped counterbalance the “always-on” feeling of working from home.

Who is an inspiration for you and why?
My parents (and fellow Hoyas!). I think of all they’ve accomplished. Now that I have a daughter and am working full time, I look at the success my parents have had while also raising a family of five and they keep me going. Especially navigating COVID-19 with a child, I am not sure what I would do without them. Good thing they now live nearby!

What is a book you would recommend to everyone?
I read Shoe Dog at the beginning of quarantine. It’s the story of Nike and what Phil Knight overcame to make it into the powerhouse brand it is today. I’ve also been getting into podcasts lately when I can find some free time. Some of my favorites are The Daily and Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.

What are your words to live by?
“It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.” It can be scary at first making decisions about what city you will live in or what the next step in your career will be, but you soon realize that the experience you’re gaining on a daily basis will just help you grow and lead you to where you will go next. And hopefully you will have a little fun along the way!

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