Interview with Danielle Ruess, Wizeline

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.

This interview is with Danielle Ruess, the Chief Marketing Officer at Wizeline. Read our full interview series here.

How do you define your leadership?

I try to balance business expectations and meeting goals with being human. It’s true that I have high expectations when it comes to my own performance and that of my teams, but I strive to balance that with actually connecting — having fun, listening when personal issues arise and helping them be successful. From the outside looking in, my style is more ‘participative’ – while I may have more years of experience and a vision in mind, I find that some of the best outcomes are driven by including the entire team’s ideas and insights. 

How has your leadership changed in the past year?

My core leadership-style hasn’t changed but, just like many leaders, I’m social and enjoy being with people, sharing those organic moments that build camaraderie and trust. This past year took that away from all of us and, for me personally, it’s been especially challenging as I accepted a new role during the pandemic. I’ve never met anyone in person (except one former colleague) and building relationships with people who don’t know you over video conference, versus in-person, is much more difficult. I’m naturally a very expressive person and, since we only see each other’s facial expressions (and it’s almost impossible to read body language), I’m trying to be more aware of how the person on the receiving end may interrupt our interaction. 

As far as ‘remote work’, I’ve always been a supporter. Life happens and not everyone is productive at the same time of day. I make sure my team understands our priorities, the ‘why’ behind them, and I want them to feel empowered about balancing their work and home life however they need to. Trust is important and goes both ways.

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

I came into the workforce in the mid-90’s, which was a very challenging time for women, and, over the past 25 years, I’ve had good bosses, terrible bosses, and a few stellar bosses; when I look back, the stellar bosses (both male and female) were the ones I’ve strived to model. There is a difference between ‘being kind’ and ‘weakness’ – I received advice a few times throughout my career to be ‘tougher’, or worse ‘make your team respect you through fear’. I am a kind person, I like to laugh (life is hard enough) and at the same time, I’m very competent, very decisive, have delivered great results throughout my career and have watched some of the people I have mentored go on to great careers. 

Don’t try to change who you are to fit into someone else’s idea of what a ‘female leader’ should be. Know your value, keep learning everyday, encourage your teams to learn and grow, set clear expectations, give honest feedback, and enjoy the journey!

Who do you follow on social media that you would recommend to other women leaders?

Angela Ahrendts.

Thank you to Danielle for taking part in our interview series. And be sure to read the entire series!

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