Tania Anici Kelley
Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing
7250 Redwood Blvd., Suite 200, Novato 94945
Read more profiles of 2019 North Bay Women in Business Awards winners: nbbj.news/wib2019
North Bay Business Journal asked 2019 Women in Business Awards winner Tania Anici Kelley to fill us in on her background, responsibilities and community involvement, and insights into what makes her a notable professional in the region.
Professional background: My career spans nearly 30 years in marketing, advertising, and product and sales channel management. I have spent the last 15 years leading brand development, marketing communications, public relations, and digital marketing for Hennessy Funds.
Prior to joining Hennessy Funds I worked as director of Sales and Marketing for AT&T/Comcast, where I was part of the team that launched the first cable/broadband internet access in the U.S. in the late 1990s (anyone old enough to remember dial-up AOL should thank us!), and I also worked on the team that launched broadband-based phone services (now known as Xfinity) in the Bay Area.
I started my career at an advertising agency in San Francisco and subsequently moved to New England, where I worked for an IBM-funded start up and also TJX Companies (TJ Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods) before moving into the telecommunications industry.
Education: Bachelor of science in business administration and marketing from the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business.
Staff: A small marketing department, as well as three agencies – general marketing and sales, digital marketing, and public relations
Tell us about yourself and your company: Hennessy Funds serves over 300,000 investors nationwide. Hennessy Advisors, Inc. is a publicly traded company that oversees, services, and markets the family of Hennessy Funds.
I oversee communications for both business entities. I joined Hennessy in 2003, when the firm managed just $200 million in assets, and today we manage over $5 billion. We’ve built the company through organic growth of our mutual funds and also through strategic acquisitions of other companies/funds. It has been very gratifying to work here and contribute to this growth and success. I am also really proud of Hennessy’s support of our community and local nonprofits.
On the personal side, I am married with two children, and we recently moved our family to Santa Rosa. I am passionate about education and support my children’s schools as much as possible through volunteering and fundraising. I have traveled literally around the world and am hopeful to continue to share my love of international travel with my kids.
Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?
In the past year we designed and launched a new, leading-edge website for Hennessy Funds and integrated it with a very sophisticated CRM and marketing automation platform. These tools are enabling us to become much more data-driven and more productive and effective in our marketing and sales efforts. This has been and continues to be a great learning experience, and it has been very rewarding to lead this effort.
What is the achievement you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the recognition received from the Investment Management Education Alliance, a national mutual fund industry trade association. Since joining the organization 10 years ago, we have received a total of 36 STAR Awards, which recognize excellence in marketing, education, and communications.
In both 2017 and 2018, we received the “Overall Advisor Communication Award” for best in category marketing communications. It is particularly gratifying that STAR Awards are judged by peer companies in the investment management industry.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Maintaining a meaningful career while raising and supporting a family.
Words that best describe you: Smart, hard-working, reliable, funny (I hope), perfectionist, and stubborn (but I am trying to work on those two).
As a successful female professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
Other than maintaining a healthy work-life balance with a growing family, I honestly have never felt there were significant obstacles to overcome professionally because of my gender. I have been fortunate to work for companies that are focused on employees’ ability and effort, and I have been very lucky to work directly for smart, driven, yet supportive women for the majority of my career.
How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?
Rapidly evolving technology continues to change the marketing field at an astounding pace, with a huge shift toward digital media. Going forward I believe successful marketers will need to strike the right balance between traditional marketing strategies, while embracing the best digital marketing practices.
Who was your most important mentor?
My most important mentor was a woman named Linda Laskowski. She promoted me to and mentored me in a director-level role on her team at Comcast as we launched competitive local phone service in the bay area in the early 2000s.
She started her career as an engineer for the phone company at a time when few women were engineers. She was incredibly smart and rose through the ranks to become a top level executive, and she was the most effective team leader I have ever met.
It never actually mattered that she was a woman. It was non-issue. She garnered respect because she was smart and hardworking, but fair and supportive. She taught me to always consider any project from the perspective of all stakeholders.
Her best advice to me was that “you can be right or you can be effective.” I still remind myself of this advice to this day, now some 20 years later.
What advice would you give to a young woman entering your profession or the work world today?
Try to do what you love so that you can love what you do. Listen, read, learn everything you possibly can about your chosen field. Study those around you that are successful. Be inquisitive, ask questions, and be prepared that as soon as you think you know everything, something will change. Work your hardest. Take initiative. Don’t let it matter that you are a woman – take it out of the equation.
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Sheryl Sanderg, COO of Facebook. She is obviously incredibly successful in business, but I most admire how she uses her notoriety and platform to promote and support women and girls. Reading her book “Lean In” (a gift from a thoughtful co-worker) helped to put in perspective the pressure that women put on themselves to be “perfect” at work and “perfect” at home, and how to find balance in making the right choices for career, family, and importantly for yourself.
Typical day at the office: Never typical, and we are a small firm and everyone wears many hats, so we all need to be prepared for whatever comes our way. Each morning I quickly scan the news and industry trade publications, as well as review results of marketing and sales efforts.
Most days include some form of strategic calendar/campaign planning, drafting and/or editing and/or approving communications and content, updating our websites, coordinating press releases or media interviews, all done in coordination with our team in the office and at our various agencies.
Best place to work outside of your office: From my new home in Santa Rosa, particularly in the backyard, feeling fresh air and sun.
Current reading: The “Hunger Games” trilogy and “Untangled — Guiding Teenage Girls into Adulthood”. Oddly, not completely unrelated! Writing about who I admire reminds me that I would like to read “Lean In” again.
Social media you most use: Facebook, but my admiration of Sheryl Sandberg aside, I feel social media has the potential to be more isolating than enriching, and I don’t use it much. That said, I understand its impact on marketing, and I am currently trying my darndest to figure out Snapchat so I can try to keep up with teenagers.
Favorite hobbies: Watching my kids play sports, walking/hiking, cooking, traveling, anything to do with wine.
Stress relievers: All of the above, plus pulling weeds, organizing drawers or closets, and folding laundry. Very calming and so satisfying when complete!
Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?
Just to thank to my incredible and supportive boss and co-workers for nominating me for this recognition. The real honor is getting to work with an amazing team of smart, funny, hard working women (and men too).
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