Interview with Lisa Stephano, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

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 Lisa Stephano, the Chief Marketing Officer for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, a leading non-profit that uses horticulture to advance the greater good.

How do you define your leadership?

My 193-year-old organization has such an entrepreneurial spirit — reinventing itself, trying new ways to build impact and engage audiences — that it’s resulted in my needing to be more of a transformational leader: innovating, inspiring change, and adapting to an ever-moving target.

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

In the beginning of my career, I had the great fortune to learn from some very admirable female leaders. Their passion and willingness to share their knowledge, and the spotlight, were motivating and provided me with such enthusiasm and courage for this work. There was the feeling of a safety net and encouragement to try new things and take some risks.  As I move closer to the end of my career, I am firmly in the role of “coach” with a renewed purpose to help my team recognize and reach its potential, encouraging them to take risks and supporting their efforts. 

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

I didn’t always recognize my role as a leader, but as one of the team. Early in my career, I was eager to offer up endless thoughts, opinions, and strategies in an effort to be heard and move my ideas forward. A coach said to me, “if your words are the only ones we hear, how will we know, grow, and understand more as a team?” The notion of lifting everyone along the way was a key learning. 

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

The PHS marketing organization must remain adaptable, maintain a “gut” on its audience as part of the analytic mix, and have the courage to chart a path for the organization that will drive success. Marketing is not simply a support system for the organization; it is a driver of innovation and strategy.  

What do you think young women entering the marketing communications field should know?

The possibilities are endless. It is a field where inspiration, creativity, and strategy convene. 

What advice do you have for them?

Always know your audience. Seek out skilled partners and learn from them; recognize greatness in others and learn from them. Do your homework. Become skilled at making a case for your ideas. Have ideas and connect them to strategy. Be the champion of your organization’s message. Cultivate a high level of curiosity. Be kind and confident.

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 am more acutely aware of the need for establishing time to attend to family matters and work. Physically staying out of the sight line of the main living area has been an important delineation for me and my family. 

What have you learned from being a mom that you have applied to your role as a marketing leader?  

Juggling so many projects, plans, responsibilities and lives has been incredibly useful.

What have you learned from being a marketing leader that you have applied to your role as a mom? 

Recognizing that each person is an individual requiring a unique approach suited to their own way of thinking. Being able to adjust to the person and not the other way around has been a helpful learning.

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