Izzy: Building a League of Strong Women through AlphaSights' Women's Initiative Network
This month we sat down with New York’s Izzy Spada to chat about her dynamic role at AlphaSights and how the two blend together. Read on for insights on her life as a second-year Demand Gen Associate and as President of the company’s global Women’s Initiative Network (WIN).
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role?
I joined AlphaSights in July 2016 after graduating from Tufts University in Boston. Throughout college, I was always working different jobs — I did retail for several years working at Kate Spade New York on the main shopping street in Boston and then held internships with OpenView Venture Partners and Omnicom Group. In each role I had, I found myself fascinated by the dialogue between consumers and corporations; specifically, the experience customers had with a company as compared to the overarching brand values a company promotes to its customers.
After college, I searched for roles that would allow me to define and shape a company brand persona and enable customers in most need of the service to realize the significance a product could have in their workflow and livelihood.
Fortunately, I’m in a position at AlphaSights where I can do both. I work in Demand Generation on our Corporate sector where I’m responsible for bringing our knowledge-search service to F500 corporations across the US.
What is WIN at AlphaSights?
WIN stands for Women’s Initiative Network. Our mission is to enhance the careers of professional women by providing opportunities both inside and outside the office to network, share information, acquire skills, and develop rewarding professional relationships. AlphaSights Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) is founded and initiated by women but for the benefit of all. We have chapters across our global offices with a presence in San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong. We aspire to have WIN in all nine offices by 2019.
What role do you play within WIN? What led you there?
I’m the President of WIN globally. I manage a board of directors in New York, lead strategic initiatives for the group, and bring best practices to our satellite WIN groups. Right now, I’m working with WIN Vice President Katie Knowlton to develop an office-wide training that addresses common perceptions and behaviors of women in the workforce as well as provides opportunities for women to assert authority in both written and in-person communication.
Prior to AlphaSights, I had never had a male manager. I worked on projects led by male leaders but the person I reported to was always female. When I first started working here, I began working on an all-male team and it was my first time not having a direct female mentor. I realized that AlphaSights had a very active WIN group and was encouraged by my manager to join as a way to network across the firm.
In the first year, I led the development of our WIN Dinner Series where we invite women in parallel industries to quarterly dinners with 6–8 women from AlphaSights in attendance. Our hope was to provide women from AlphaSights an opportunity to ask questions and chat with women they respect professionally and wouldn’t have met otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this initiative and knew that I wanted to get more involved with the group. When our previous leader relocated to our San Francisco office, I jumped at the opportunity to lead.
Are you excited about any upcoming initiatives?
We always have exciting activities coming up! Our board is incredibly active and determined to continue the conversation, which I both admire and sincerely appreciate. Natalie De Paz and Vida Robinson recently facilitated a networking lunch and learn event with the WIN chapter of Cushman & Wakefield; Lauren Paige Aiken organized a dinner event with Anna Griffin, SVP of Corporate Marketing of CA Technologies. Upcoming events include: Emily Van Horn hosting a speaker series event and workout class led by 305 Fitness creator Sadie Kurzban and Lauren Nilles leading an office-wide clothing drive in partnership with Dress for Success and Salvation Army.
I’m especially excited about the Sadie Kurzban event because it’s been a dream of Emily’s for a while. In the application for joining the WIN board, we asked everyone to answer the following question: If we could bring any woman into the office for an event, who would it be? Emily wrote about bringing Sadie in, so it’s exciting that the story has come full circle!
What’s challenging for you and your board?
Time management and project sharing. We have so many great ideas of events we’d like to host, people we would like to network with, and trainings we want to develop. I wish we had all the time in the world but we have to be realistic about what we can take on and how to manage those initiatives. We each participate in WIN as an ‘extracurricular’ to our full-time positions so it is essential to the success of the group that members are upfront about when they are feeling overwhelmed or lack capacity.
I’m continually impressed by the women on the board who take time during lunch or after working hours to put together an initiative. It speaks volumes to their passion and dedication to make not only the WIN group a success, but to broaden our horizons as a firm at large.
What are some skills you’ve learned that you’re able to transfer to your core role and vice versa?
The three skills I’ve relied on the most from my core job to my role in WIN are: prospecting potential customers, writing concise emails, and following up with people. Much of my job entails identifying people that would benefit from our service, creating enticing email copy to reach out to them, and chasing them until they respond. I have a running list of women I’ve seen on LinkedIn or in the news that I think would be a great connection for WIN and will revisit that list each time we are looking to host our next event.
The values I’ve taken from WIN and incorporated into my core role is the importance of taking the time to help others.
Every woman we have worked with through WIN is a busy, smart, powerful, in-demand woman who’s willing to give up over an hour of her personal time to meet with us.
I know firsthand how much of an impact these women have had on my career as well as my colleague’s careers and I cannot thank them enough! When we ask why these women are willing to give up some of their time for us, they always mention the people that gave up time for them.
Since there aren’t many people in my core role at AlphaSights, I make a concerted effort to help teams other than my own that are exploring marketing campaigns or demand generation efforts. I believe that sharing the insights I’ve learned with people will open the door for someone to teach me when I encounter the next thing I don’t know how to do.
What’s your vision for WIN?
I hope that WIN continues to open doors and start conversations for AlphaSights employees that they might not have had access to previously. I love the idea that with each guest we bring in for a WIN event, we are building a community of professional women that our employees can continue to reach out to in the future. Given that this is a first or second job for many of our employees, I think this community will be an essential resource for women at our firm to learn more about adjacent industries and develop meaningful relationships with women out there doing big things.
I come back to this often but Amy Slater, an Advisor for our firm and a previous WIN Executive Spotlight speaker, mentioned that she got involved in motivational speaking so she could inspire others and, “leave a little bit of magic,” with as many people as possible.
I’d like to think that our platform of WIN will also inspire others and leave a little bit of magic with the employees and team members it reaches.