Spotlight on Esther Lem, CMO of Chegg

Interview conducted by Kylie Wilson

 

This week we chose to highlight Esther Lem, the Chief Marketing Officer of Chegg. We interviewed her to learn about where she started her career, some of the personal struggles she’s encountered, and what tips and tricks she has for other women in business.

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“I learned to stand my ground and fight for what I believed in.”

-Esther Lem

What does your current job involve? Is there such a thing as a typical day?

I am the Chief Marketing Officer for Chegg and responsible for Communicating (Public Relations and advertising) and marketing the product to the student audience.

I don’t have a typical day.  From the outside, it looks like I am in meetings all day.  In reality, I work with teams of people from inside and outside the company to develop strategies, and to execute and optimize plans.

 

What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

My first job was in advertising where I worked on many clients from food (Quaker Oats, General Foods) to toys (Mattel) to retail (Sears). It gave me the chance to see how different clients worked and the role that marketing played within the company.  I interviewed through the Career Center at my Business School.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it? 

I learned that I was reluctant to speak up unless I knew all the details behind an answer.  So I remained quiet and was not heard in many meetings.  Then I realized, many times others would say what I was thinking first and I’d kick myself for letting others get credit for what I was thinking.

 

What’s one important piece of advice for young women entering the business force?

Don’t hold back. Speak up and have confidence in what you bring to the conversation. You are at the table because you’re smart and or creative or whatever, so understand that you have something valuable to contribute.

 

Have you ever had to deal with sexism as a woman in the business world?

All the time.  I have become more selective about who I will work with, identifying company values and speaking up when I’m uncomfortable.

 

Ending Note from herNetwork:

We all have to start somewhere. In order to rise up in a company and make it into the C-suite, remember to always speak up. Don’t let your insecurities and fears get in the way of your career because you can improve and learn from your mistakes.

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