02/17/2015 11:23 am ET Updated Apr 19, 2015

Women in Business Q&A: Deepa Miglani, Vice President of Growth & Marketing, TheLadders

Deepa Miglani is the Vice President of Growth & Marketing for TheLadders, the online job-matching service for career-driven professionals. She is responsible for developing marketing acquisition and retention strategies for both the employer and consumer segments of the company. Deepa's goal is to drive business growth by increasing consumers' awareness of TheLadders brand, optimizing their experience with the site, and engaging the community by creating relevant and meaningful interactions between site members and employers. She joined the company in November 2013 and is based in the company's New York headquarters.

Deepa brings 15 years of experience to TheLadders' marketing team, in both traditional and online marketing. Most recently, she led sales & marketing and launched products for Neat, a leader in Cloud-based digital filing systems. There she launched cloud and mobile products to drive company growth. Previously, she was the SVP at what is now, where she created a recurring revenue line for the company's remote technical support device. Earlier in her career, Deepa led consumer marketing and relationship management for companies including eHarmony, Rosetta Stone, and Startec Global Communications.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
As a woman born and raised in India, I'm fortunate that my work experience in two very different cultures fast-tracked my learning curve on one key ingredient to business success - people. I learned early on that however different our backgrounds, race, ethnicity, education and culture, we are all looking for a supportive, non-judgmental environment to bring out the best in us. From my own experience working with executive leadership teams, I've performed best when I've been given the inspiration to excel, and the latitude to think, plan, strategize, execute, make and learn from my own mistakes. That is the lesson I apply when leading my teams. At the core, each one of us has a different DNA, but the environment we all thrive best in is when we're given the freedom to learn, grow and excel. My mantra managing my teams is, "don't step in unless you have to."
I've also learned a lot from situations of adversity. I failed my first leadership challenge, and learned painfully that I needed to pivot my leadership style. I learned who I did not want to be, from my own experience.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at TheLadders?
I've had a diverse range of assignments and senior roles in various industries: telecom, online dating, language learning. Every role has had its own unique circumstances, challenges, and opportunities. A common lesson that has run through all of these roles is that the sure shot way to solve complex business challenges is to approach them with common sense, a little dose of pragmatism and a bit of creativity (thrown in for good measure). And, it's important to try new ideas and encourage creative thinking. Banking on past success is a recipe for disaster and a killer of innovation.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at TheLadders?
I came to TheLadders at a time when a lot was changing with the business and our internal teams. I had to build my team from the ground up, while simultaneously coming to grips with the complexities of the business, and the shifting reality of our industry. Over the past six months, my team has begun delivering on our promise to provide business solutions, and now we're shifting our focus to growth. Six months is not enough time to create visible success, but my team is doing that, and it has been the fastest turn-around story in my career.

In terms of challenges, our industry is becoming highly commoditized, which means that jobs can be found anywhere. In a situation where a customer might have many options to find the right tool to help them find their next job, it can be highly challenging to carve-out, and communicate our niche and value proposition. Given this reality, an interesting challenge we've been solving is how to best communicate our brand's relevance in this space, and convince our users of our unparalleled value proposition.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in marketing?
Be sure to focus on creating and constantly reclaiming your relevance: learn new tools, new trades etc. Every time you think you're an expert at something, technology and ongoing innovation will outpace your knowledge and previous learning. It's so important to stay ahead of the curve. Also, don't underestimate the value of networking and finding more than one mentor.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
For me, the most important lesson has been learning what (and who) not to be and consciously applying that to how I lead my teams. Identifying qualities I want to emulate, and character frailties I want to avoid and consciously working on that has also been a valuable practice. People are everything, and leaders need to create an environment where their teams can thrive and take them to success. Success is also shared and I believe no one individual can (or should) take the credit for it.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
At least two times each week, I let myself believe I have a nine-to-five job. On those two days, I let the clock dictate the hours I spend in the office. I'm not bashful about leaving work early. On those days, I make sure to meet with friends, network with professionals I want to know and do Bikram yoga - the best stress buster I've found. There are sometimes unforeseen issues and challenges, which require me to be on-call during evenings and weekends, but barring those issues, I am very deliberate about not taking work home with me on weekends. I like to solve the week's challenges within the week and plan for the next week ahead of time, so I can focus on family and do the things I love to do over the weekend.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Being taken as seriously as our male counterparts. I have frequently noticed among my peers and friends, that even when women do get a seat at the table, they still have to worry about how they are perceived while there. Things that would be 'matter of course' for our male counterparts are opportunities for judgment of female executives. We're considered too soft, too aggressive or too emotional. It continues to amaze me that in the 21st century, this is still a prominent issue. In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton notes that a "double standard applies to women in politics - regarding clothes, body types, and of course hairstyles." I've found that to be absolutely true. My advice: use what makes you unique to stand out, and do not conform. In my case, I own my ethnicity and wear Indian attire with pride. I don't worry about conforming to a sartorial image of "the female executive." I make my own.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
The one big life lesson I've learned from my mentors is that we need to accept gracefully any situation we might want to change but are not able to. This lesson has made a positive impact, both in my professional and personal life. It does not mean giving up or leaving the battlefront, it means fighting for what we believe is right, while accepting (without rancor) the outcome, even if it isn't what we desire. Having a mentor who has experienced challenges similar to those I'm experiencing, navigated tough business environments and solved complex business challenges has made a sea of change in my life. From helping me develop creative ways to find solutions for routine and not-so-routine issues, to helping me get out of the weeds and be more strategic, my mentors have changed the way I approach problems. Sometimes solving a problem takes a simple phone call to a trusted advisor/friend. Just talking things through can create enormous clarity of thought.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I have a lot of respect for any female in a leadership position, and even more so those who have broken through the glass ceiling to get to the very top. I actively read about these types of women and every once in a while I will find a priceless nugget from their life that I want to adopt and make my own. These stories offer a little dose of inspiration. That said, my life has been greatly impacted by women in my circle of family and friends who are in similar leadership positions. Their stories are real to me, and their life lessons more relevant. I actively listen to anyone in this circle who has dealt with the issues I deal with every day: complex business challenges, inspiring teams, overcoming challenging peer relationships, managing difficult bosses etc., along with a host of other issues that most women have to deal with (e.g., glass ceilings, finding and developing your voice etc.). I feel the people I'm acquainted with offer more practical advice and their experiences are shared experiences. I find this more beneficial than learning from books and biographies of female leaders.

What do you want TheLadders to accomplish in the next year?
We're at a pivotal moment in the company's history. We are redefining how we help our customers and working on new tools that will impact their career trajectories in a completely different way. My expectation is that through these innovations, we will pave the way for unprecedented growth. Working in the career industry has been interesting; our team really is representative of our customers: we are all professionals who want to learn to manage our careers in an effective way. I think this puts us in the perfect position to affect positive change in the professional lives of our customers and I would love to see us accomplish this in an even greater way over the next year.