Women in Business Q&A: Michele Promaulayko, Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Health

04/07/2015 09:05 am ET | Updated Jun 07, 2015

Michele Promaulayko is the Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Health, a digital magazine launched by the tech company in 2014. Previously, Promaulayko was the Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of Women's Health, where she oversaw all facets of the brand (magazine, website, apps, books, and 28 international editions). Under her leadership, Women's Health won a National Magazine Award for general excellence, was named magazine of the year by Advertising Age, and twice made Adweek's Hot List. She is the author of Look Better Naked, and a new book, 20 Pounds Younger.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I was raised by a single, working mother, so from early on, I developed the confidence to take initiative and trust my instincts. Those are important leadership qualities. I'd even go as far as to say that my trust in my own judgment is my core competency. I also played soccer for many years, which teaches you the importance of supporting other people when they are striving toward a goal (pun intended!).

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Yahoo Health?
In any business, relationship building is critical. I pride myself on forging--and maintaining--strong connections with writers, editors, health experts, advertisers, and wellness-brand managers. As big as they are, the health and fitness worlds begin to feel small after a while. So it's been helpful to be able to leverage those old relationships in my new post. I'm also a big believer in (and benefactor of) reciprocal support--I lend a lot, and I get a lot.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking a career in your industry?
Be an idea factory. And be passionate.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Striving for balance might actually be too ambitious at this stage in my life. So what I try to do is have gratitude for all of the amazing experiences and opportunities that come my way. That little mental shift casts a more positive light on stressful times. That said, I love to travel, and I carve out time to do that. It's extremely restorative for me. Also, I'm not even sure I'm looking for balance--I love what I do and the people I work with. For me, work and life are more of an integration than a separation.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women, more than men, suffer from imposter syndrome. That's been proven by research. So in a sense, we are our own worst enemies by sometimes not quite believing we deserve success. Of course this is a complicated, layered issue that has deep roots in social conditioning--I'm not saying it's as easy as thinking, "Hey, I earned this!" But we do need to say that to ourselves and to remind each other that our recognition is well deserved.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
There are so many women in publishing, so I've never had a dearth of female leaders to look up to. I've worked at companies with smart, powerful female editors, publishers, presidents, and CEOs. My boss at Cosmo, where I was the Executive Editor for eight years, was the inimitable Kate White. The only problem with working for her is that you can easily feel like an underachiever. She ran the biggest magazine brand, wrote best-selling career books and novels, and traveled the globe--all while being a dedicated wife and mom. At Women's Health, I had a dynamo as a publisher, Laura Frerer-Schmidt, who became a close friend. One of the many reasons I was drawn to Yahoo is because of the incredible female leadership here. My current boss, Yahoo CMO Kathy Savitt, is among the most impressive businesspeople I have ever met. She's quick-minded, strategic, energetic, and funny, too. And of course, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, has accomplished more before age 40 than most people in the world will ever accomplish. So at the risk of seeming obsequious, I have to say: I don't just admire her, I am awed by her. How can you not be?

What do you want Yahoo Health to accomplish in the next year?
My ambition is to make Yahoo Health the premiere health destination. And since we're putting out valuable, actionable content every day, the big hope is that we're helping people improve their lives in big and small ways.