Marketing Hall of Femme 2018: Susan Flinn Cobian, President, HYC Health

DMN’s Marketing Hall of Femme honors female marketers who have taken risks, pushed limits, and achieved standout success in their marketing careers. These fiercely talented women are all the most senior marketing professionals at brands, non-profits, marketing tech and services vendors, or agencies. 

We sat down with 2018 Hall of Femme honoree Susan Flinn Cobian, HYC Health, who shared advice on the challenges of being a woman in the workplace, and how young female professionals can navigate their own successful marketing careers. 

DMN: What’s the best piece of career advice that you’ve ever received?

Cobian: Get it done! Concentrate on performance, not office politics. You can control the former but not the latter. Focus on what you have the power to achieve.

 DMN: What’s the best way to advocate for yourself in the workplace (whether it’s for a promotion, a salary raise, or more responsibilities)? 

Don’t take business decisions personally, and if you find you are the smartest person in the room, own it! Have fun picking just the right time to shine. Ask for what you want. If you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to get it…and don’t take no for an answer. 

DMN: As a woman, what advantages and disadvantages have you experienced in climbing up through your career? 

Cobian: When I started out, I had to pick up my boss’s dry cleaning, get coffee, run errands — back then you didn’t question it. It was never, “Oh, he’s pushing me down.” You just paid your dues; it could have been a female boss for all that it mattered. I had my fair share of “Okay, thank you little girl, I don’t need you to speak up.” That just made me mad and I worked very hard to become the most senior person in the room. 

DMN: What advice do you have for younger women in the workplace who want to lean in and take a bigger seat at the table?  

I urge them to develop a voice, take a seat at the table, ask for what they want and not to be afraid. I tell them, “So what if someone says no? You are not going to get anything if you don’t ask.” I once had a male boss tell me my voice was too loud and that I needed to tone it down and be more feminine. So, at the next meeting, I literally spoke louder. There will always be another job, there will always be a better boss, there will always be somebody who is willing to fight for you. You just need to have the confidence that you’re going to find that person. 

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