Michelle Snedden, Kantar
Michelle Snedden, Chief of Staff, Insights Americas at Kantar, has a wealth of experience creating unique customer solutions and navigating the needs of diverse organizational roles. Michelle's leadership journey at Kantar is marked by professional achievements and a deep commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. As the Global Co-Lead of the Women at Kantar Employee Resource Group, she creates impactful internal initiatives that align with the company's commitment to providing deep insights into how people think, feel, and act, utilizing innovative analytics and technology. We sat down to discuss her thoughts on leadership, team building, and how authentic change comes from within.
Michelle's definition of leadership is both unique and innovative. "For me personally," she shares, "I consider myself a servant leader. Through my role, I'm here to serve others, whether that is our leadership team or our broader organization." For Michelle, leaders must maintain both one foot in the role of director and another in their position as a team member. "Great leaders create a vision, set the direction, and guide their teams to success – but success lies within the team, not solely within the leader." Michelle noted, "The best leaders don't need to be the smartest or have all the ideas, but they do need to actively seek out and surround themselves with people who do."
This collaborative definition of leadership has been especially helpful in her work with the Women at Kantar Employee Resource Group. "We recently launched an internal film on the challenges women still face in the workplace and how we can create a gender-equitable future," she shared. "We have been bold, pushed the boundaries in the spirit of one of our cultural principles of Always Getting Better, to raise awareness of the issues and how we can all play a role to create an environment where everyone is equally treated, respected, and their contributions valued." Her commitment to fostering connected and supportive group relationships has helped the company tackle difficult discussions around workplace and gender equity. "These can be hard and uncomfortable conversations," she noted. "...but it's such a privilege to be a part of a group and organization that is willing to engage in those tough conversations — and, more importantly, to make changes as a result."
Kantar has been one of the longest-running supporters of the WIRe mission, and Michelle's work carries the torch from organization to organization. The company hosted our first in-person WIRe in Color event in their New York office this year, and Kantar team members participated in London and Nairobi chapter events, upskilling and connecting them with local communities. Kantar has also leveraged the WIRe Accelerate professional development program to accelerate team members' career growth both at Kantar and beyond. "We've found WIRe to be a wonderful platform to share our resources and learn from others, looking beyond our own four walls to soak up insights and experiences from the broader industry," Michelle explained. "This reflection and validation truly allows our colleagues to connect to win. We have an internal drive to always get better, make today count, and win together. Our ERG has certainly felt that support from the wider WIRe community."
Michelle looks to podcaster Elizabeth Benton for inspiration when taking chances and making transformational moves. "Elizabeth has a saying that 'my feelings can ride with me, but they can't drive.' You can be scared and do it anyway," Michelle shared. She urges fellow women in research to push beyond their limiting beliefs as they progress up the career ladder. "The saying that if you meet 100% of the qualifications for a role, you are overqualified for it resonates with me," Michelle offered. "I see that women, in particular, can be hesitant to apply for roles or take that next step if they don't feel 100% qualified. Don't limit yourself!" Finally, Michelle hopes that, as her peers plan their next move, they look outward and inward. "Find someone you can leverage as an advocate," she suggests. "Someone who is in the room or discussions you want to be in, who mentions your name, highlights your skills and experience, and helps you seek out and identify opportunities." She shared that she has "been fortunate to have seen and had firsthand experience with several great leaders. The common qualities among them are listening more than they speak, having my back, and advocating for me even if (or especially when) I'm not in the room. Even when I've had experiences with some not-so-great leaders, I walked away from those learning something, even if it's how I don't want to be a leader. Every experience teaches you something that you can carry with you."