Stef Stanley is co-founder of OK Mentor and Account Director at LinkedIn. OK Mentor provides free training and mentorship for young women looking to break into the creative industries.
Stefany Stanley has over 10 years of experience in marketing and advertising, having supported 20+ global brands such as Emirates, Expedia and American Express define and execute successful marketing programmes. Stefany currently works at LinkedIn, where she helps some of the biggest brands in the technology sector drive meaningful engagement and business impact through effective storytelling.
Stefany attributes much of her success to the people who guided and supported her throughout her career as well as the ability to never give up and always go after what she wanted. As a co-founder to Ok Mentor, she hopes to pass on some of the knowledge and experience she acquired to help young women succeed more effectively, and faster.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Hi everyone, I am the Co-Founder of Ok Mentor and am also an Account Director at LinkedIn. I am originally from Brazil but lived in Santa Barbara, LA and NYC before moving to London. I left my country at age 21 knowing no one and having no idea what I wanted to do with my career. I learned many lessons along the way and tricks that REALLY impacted my career, and I am so glad I can now pass this knowledge on through Ok Mentor.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, never. I know it’s not necessarily the best approach, but when I was young, I believed that if I worked hard and said yes to every opportunity presented to me, the rest would take care of itself. And it did! I said yes to opportunities that would advance my career and many times that meant receiving a low pay, but I don’t regret any of them, as it led somewhere incredible.
Once I got older and had advanced my career, I realized the importance of planning, probably because my work required so much strategy and future planning for my clients. My advice is that it is important to focus on a 3-5-year plan but most importantly, how you will get there. Outline the tactics and tools you plan to implement to ensure you get to your desired ‘destination’.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Many – who hasn’t?! I struggled tremendously with imposter syndrome in the beginning of my career and always doubting my talent and worth. I had times in my life where all I wanted to do was hide and be on the couch. I went through a Divorce early in my career while still having to ‘play the part’ at work. There were many different challenges. I believe the most valuable lesson to learn in life is that everything is a lesson. It took me many years to understand this but today I know that every hardship and challenge is here to teach me something I need to know, something that will make me a better professional, friend, wife, daughter and person.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
When I was 25, I was featured on the Wall Street Journal as an example of someone who was ‘mastering’ attending conferences, networking and ultimately succeeding at building business relationships. It was an absolutely highlight.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Networking, networking, networking. It wasn’t easy to network, and it took a lot of practice. It took me a while to understand how to start a conversation, how to show my value in an authentic way and how to ask for help. What I realized over time is that we are all people who are looking to connect and if I stayed true to that, I could build really strong relationships that would naturally lead to opportunities – and they did.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I am a big believer in mentoring and have opened a non-profit to enable women all over the world to get mentorship. I never had an official Mentor, but I had many people along the way who believed in me, gave me tips and feedback and helped me learn and succeed. I think mentors and business relationships are a vital part of career progression and I believe it should be available to everyone, everywhere. We are working on it at Ok Mentor!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
I believe that as women, the more we pass on our knowledge, experience and learnings the faster we will influence the role women play in the workforce, especially with Gen Z. If we share, teach and help this new generation of women, we can expedite how fast they succeed, and ultimately shape the role of women in the next 50 years. We have the power to impact the number of women in leadership, decrease pay gap, get women in industries that have been male-dominated and so much more if we just roll up our sleeves a bit.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
‘You are good enough, and you are doing the best you can with what you have.’
In my mid-twenties when my career was starting to pick up, I developed a way of communicating with myself that was somewhat destructive. I always thought I needed to be doing better, or I wasn’t good enough and that was really crippling. Today I know that the best way for me to excel is to do my best and value what is unique about me in the process. By doing my best, I have a sense of peace because if things don’t work out, I know there was nothing else I could have done.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I am committed to the future of Ok Mentor and making mentorship available to all women in the world. It’s so easy to feel alone in the beginning of you career and I believe we can significantly impact the global economy of female talent if we mentor each other. That is my biggest project and passion and something I will be working hard towards in the next 5 years.
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