Chipotle VP Tressie Lieberman Isn’t Afraid to Take Big Risks with Social
The Innovator: Tressie Lieberman, VP of Digital and Off-Premise at Chipotle
Innovation Superpower: Leveraging technology and crowd-sourced creative to put new work into the world quickly through social.
You probably didn’t know that Tressie has spent nearly her entire career in the food industry – but doesn’t like to cook.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities. Why did you choose to join your current company?
I am the VP of Digital and Off Premise for Chipotle. I have admired this iconic brand from the sidelines, and I could not pass up the opportunity to be a part of its future. It’s a purpose-driven company with passionate consumers and a history of doing unexpected marketing. You can’t beat that!
What current developments in marketing are most inspiring to you? How will they affect the future of marketing?
I’m continually inspired by the evolution of our ability to understand customers and create a personalized experience. I’ve been blown away by start-up brands that are doing this well and completely building their business through mastering Instagram targeting and content. Leading Chipotle’s loyalty program in this world of hyper-personalization is such an exciting challenge.
What are you working on now that you think is innovative? Feel free to share links for more information, images, or video.
I’m only three months into my new role, but I love the ability to put new work in the world quickly through social. Our team did a collaboration with influencer and creator, Pablo Rochat for custom Giphy stickers, and we had over 75 MM views within the first few months.
I recently heard that the human attention span is lower than that of a goldfish. You have to constantly put new things out in the world to stay relevant. We just had a culture summit with partners where we came up with 30 ideas that we will launch in the next 90 days. We all walked away inspired, invigorated and with a plan that we could quickly put into action.
Tell us about your career path and how you ended up where you are right now: What big learning moments have you had in your journey? Did you have any notable mentors?
I started in advertising before transitioning to the client side. Most of my career has tied to digital marketing. I’ve been in the business of identifying future trends through technology and finding ways to keep the brands relevant. Whether it was the first-in-category iPhone app at Pizza Hut, building the social strategy to keep Taco Bell connected to culture, leading an incubator at Taco Bell to develop programs like Slackbot ordering, and now working on the delivery for Chipotle, I have always been motivated by connecting with customers in new ways.
As technology has quickly evolved throughout my career, I’ve been as much of an educator as a marketer, teaching executives about social media and being a self-starter to identify new business areas to explore. Through that process, I was able to reverse mentor the Yum! CEO at the time, David Novak. In turn, I received amazing coaching and mentoring from him. I stay in touch with every manager that I’ve had, learning so much from each person with different styles and skill sets. As we all move on to different roles and companies, they become mentors as well.
Tell us about your teams. How do you pick and develop the talent on your team? How do you ensure there is collaboration?
Being a leader is an honor and a privilege. I absolutely love developing others, helping them discover their potential and supporting their growth. The thing I am most proud of in my career is seeing the people I have directly coached go on to do big things. Leading people is something I constantly strive to get better at. When I first started coaching a team, I had no idea what I was doing so I read every book I could get my hands on. I still read, listen to podcasts and learn so much by observing other leaders (both from things I would and would not do). It’s important to be yourself and find your own style.
I look for people with insatiable curiosity, passion, energy, a humble spirit and the drive to keep growing. When filling an open position, I have been known to do my own LinkedIn sleuthing rather than relying solely on recruiters. I ask everyone I know for referrals and would rather build a team around the right person than hire for what perfectly fits the job description.
I develop others by finding opportunities for them to try new things and take on stretch projects. It’s also about giving constant feedback and asking a lot of questions, which works both ways. The best relationships happen when we are all honest and direct so we can keep getting better. I set the tone for collaboration. It’s an expectation. Work is way more fun when you let your egos go and enjoy doing big things as a team.
What one thing do you need from your CMO to help you be successful?
Trust. You can’t move fast and do breakthrough work without it.
What advice would you give to marketers who are just starting their careers?
Be insanely curious. Never stop learning.
Don’t wait for someone to ask you to do something. Be a self-starter.
Get out of your comfort zone. Change is good.
Listen and know that you don’t need all the answers.
Just be yourself. Spend time understanding your values and set goals that allow you to stay true to them.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
2 ½ years ago, I joined a start-up and thought I would be in Austin for the rest of my life. Now I live in Newport Beach and work for Chipotle. You can’t predict the future. I think it’s important to live in the moment but plan for the future by constantly developing yourself. I’m a big believer in God opening and closing the right doors.
Favorite place to vacation? My favorite trip of all time was a safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa. I travel a little less these days with a two-year-old at home. My goal has been to not get myself to the burnout point of needing a vacation for escape and instead trying to enjoy my day to day to the fullest.
If you were a superhero, what would your special skill be? Being in two places at once
Name something that most people don't know about you. I don’t like to cook even though I have worked in food for most of my career. In my last role, I even had the opportunity to lead a team of chefs and dietitians to create incredible, clean food that would be craveable and on trend. I tried so hard to master the art of cooking when I got married so I could throw the perfect party, but it resulted in a lot of bad meals and a kitchen gadget graveyard. I decided to give it up altogether, play to my strengths and embrace delivery.
If you weren’t a marketer, what would you be? A professor. I love guest lecturing and teaching based on real world experiences. I get so much joy from being around students with their eagerness to learn.
What's the best thing you've read/listened to/watched recently? I’m podcast obsessed. How cool is it that we live in a world where we have access to the most amazing minds in real-time? In addition to CMO Moves, I love the Ted WorkLife podcast with Adam Grant, especially the episode on a team of humble stars. My daily work mindset is to enjoy it and do it with no ego.