Interview with Ali McCarthy, Brinker Capital

For this year’s International Women’s Day, our team at Slice is proud to celebrate women across the marketing and communications industry through an interview series. Follow along throughout the week leading up to International Women’s Day to read about these inspiring women and their stories.

This interview is with Ali McCarthy, the Chief Marketing Officer for Brinker Capital, an investment management organization focusing on the evolving needs of investors.

How do you define your leadership?

My leadership style is cooperative and collaborative. I seek to be a role model for my team and ensure  they understand they are empowered to achieve success within our company. As our marketing team executes on different initiatives, I encourage members of the team to participate in the decision-making process. This ensures we are open to the best ideas but also sends a message that we have talented individuals on the team, and their voice matters. It also sends a message of joint accountability and it takes the efforts of all to contribute to the organization meaningfully. 

How has your leadership changed over the years you’ve been working?

I have spent many years working on the art of clear communication. It has taken most of my career to refine the ability to clearly state the future goals of the group and then develop a plan to achieve them. Every year there are ways to solve problems in a more innovative way which has forced me to challenge the status quo as we develop our annual business plan. 

Can you share a story that demonstrates a key learning for you in your leadership journey?

Be confident/act confident. A key learning in my leadership journey was realizing these concepts are actually the same. Confidence has helped me speak up throughout the years even when I didn’t have all the details to answer problems as they arose. It opened the door for me to learn something new. It also helped me be at peace with myself and the leader I am today.  I’m not perfect but I’m fanatically committed to the success of my organization and my team.  

What role do you think marketing communications should play in the future of your organization or industry?

Marketing today is so dynamic. I believe the mission of marketing doesn’t change – we must continue to satisfy the consumer and gain a competitive edge – but now we have more tools to accomplish these goals. I believe marketing is a fluid process that is continuously changing and being refined as market conditions and consumer preferences change. 

What do you think young women entering the marketing communications field should know?  What advice do you have for them?

You must create a network of trusting relationships with individuals who can serve as coaches, connectors, cheerleaders, and challengers. Each of these individuals will play an important role when you seek advice or input and are positioned to support your professional and personal development.  

Interested in more? Check out the full interview series here.

UPDATE: For Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day, our team at Slice wanted to reconnect and share some more experiences of moms who work across the marketing and communications industry

How are you managing working from home, being a mom, and maintaining your marketing leadership role? What tips or hacks do you have for others?

I have two young and very active boys, ages six and eight. Typically, I only see them for a few minutes when they first wake up, and then around breakfast time, the babysitter arrives—I kiss them on the head and leave for work. After work, I relieve the babysitter around 6:30 pm from TaeKwonDo class. We have two aspiring Kukkiwon black belts in our future who need to be at the dojang at least three times a week until 8:30 pm.

Over the course of a day, that entire routine changed, and now I’m with them 24/7. I love it, I really do, but it’s challenging in an entirely new set of ways. Like many of us, I have been trying to navigate changes to our routine as best I can.

The first week home, I realized my eight-year-old was struggling with reading comprehension and just kept retaking the test in the school application until he passed. He wasn’t learning. I immediately went
into working mother’s guilt mode, realizing all this time I’ve just been asking them how their day was and accepting “Fine” or “Okay” as sufficient answers in our busy lives, and I felt terrible for it.

I chose this challenge as an opportunity to double-down and engage differently with these precious kids. We spent the first few weeks from home re-learning what my eight-year-old was missing in school. That
experience completely reframed my attitude, and I’m so grateful for it. If I didn’t have that “aha” moment, I don’t think we would have successfully navigated through this change as a family.

From a health perspective, we are starting each day by exercising together to improve our overall health. We burn off the extra energy from the kids and mommy’s anxiety.

From a homeschooling perspective, we’ve transferred the rarely used dining room into a classroom. I’m now taking the time to ensure the kids are learning and comprehending their schoolwork. I ask them more open-ended questions that encourages them to share what they are learning.

From a marketing leadership perspective, our first priority has been to maintain employee wellness and health. Activities have included timely updates on changes to our business continuity plan and daily tips from our CEO that range from how to work from home to maintaining strong mental health. Our second priority has been to empathize and speak with compassion to the advisors and investors we serve, understanding they face their own set of challenges navigating daily tasks. Lastly, we have started to refocus our brand to ensure we are connecting and being responsive during this time. We have created a tremendous amount of marketing communications and resources for advisors and investors so they can effectively manage the crisis from an emotional and investment perspective and remain focused on their long-term plan. This has been an opportunity for the entire Brinker Capital community to live out one of our core values of people first, which is particularly relevant to this situation.

From the very important TaeKwonDo perspective, classes are online now. It is just the way of the world we live in!

We are all in this together, and I hope this is a time for you to reset your relationship with your kids, your partner, and your work team, so you emerge from this stronger.

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