Senior Director of Performance Marketing, Fandom
Sumee is the Senior Director of Performance Marketing at Fandom’s DnDBeyond.com, an official digital toolset and marketplace for Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition. In just 18 months, Sumee and her team built and implemented media buying strategies that increased user registrations to over 8M. Here’s our recent interview with Sumee.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us about your career path?
I graduated from Cornell University with no career prospects and I moved to Los Angeles because I wanted to be on the West Coast. I got a job at Vendare Media, a Bill Gross Idealab startup. I kept following my boss to other startups then I purposely pivoted into mobile first because I could just see that mobile was really growing. That led me to Jam City, which was really fun because I was able to contribute to their rapid growth by becoming an ‘expert’ just as mobile marketing was just emerging. As the Senior Director of Marketing, I oversaw ~$12M in monthly spend and grew the marketing team from 4 to 20 and managed 7 multi-functional direct reports. My next job was at NBC Universal Games and Digital Platforms where I focused on user acquisition and ad monetization but also functioned as an internal consultant for Oxygen, CNBC, Bravo, Fandango and the Ad Sales teams on OTT marketing strategy. And about eighteen months ago I joined Fandom.
It seems like you’ve had smooth and purposeful transitions throughout your career. Is there a particular person you are grateful towards who helped guide you?
I’ve learned from so many people! I’ve been lucky enough to see great leadership in action. I have great advocates/mentors in Laura Sanders, Arthur Wang, and Josh Brooks.
In your opinion, what are some characteristics of a great leader?
- A great leader has presence but is approachable.
- A great leader asks the type of questions that make you go, “Let me get back to you with that answer.”
- A great leader cares about what they’re doing. Passionate is such an overused word but maybe it’s appropriate in this case. They care about their work and they genuinely care about the employees.
Can you share a career accomplishment you are really proud of?
I’m proud of the work I did shepherding my team and direct reports at Jam City. We’ve maintained great relationships and many still ping me till this day.
How have the AWE sessions helped you show up to work every day?
I had never participated in anything like this before so I really appreciated the opportunity that our CMO, Stephanie Fried gave me and Fandom’s other senior women leadership. I really enjoyed being able to meet peers in my own company and I loved networking with women and having my feelings validated. Throughout the years I would question, “would this be a problem if I were a man?” So when the *Columbia Business School Howard v Heidi study was shared with my AWE cohort, I felt that I had a right to my feelings.
I understand that back in 2019, your parents, who are immigrants from South Korea, were victims of a violent street robbery that left them severely injured. And your family was further victimized when the Rolex watch you and your siblings bought your dad for his 75th birthday was pawned and the pawn shop wouldn’t release the watch unless you paid them the $16,000 they spent on it.
Yes. I’ve always felt expectations placed on me as a woman in the workplace to smile more but don’t smile so much as to not be taken seriously. But I realized it’s cultural too. When my dad was being interviewed about nearly losing his life, he was kind of laughing. I thought to myself, is that why I smile? Do I use it as a coping mechanism to be accepted both as a woman and as an Asian woman? So I’m exploring how unconscious biases may inform how I’m perceived in the workplace.
Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on your resume. What do you do on weekends?
I love live music, staycations, movies, oh, and I’m double jointed and hyper-mobile. No really, I’ve had two knee surgeries! (laughs). And I of course need to share my current fandoms which are John Wick, MCU and an OG one – Anne of Green Gables, however the new Netflix series is just ok.
Thank you for sharing both your career and deeply personal stories with us. We are in AWE!
*Heidi Roizen was a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist who became the subject of several business school case studies. A pair of Columbia Business School professors took a Harvard Business School case study about Heidi and changed her name to “Howard” in half of the classes taught. The professors then surveyed the students about their impressions of Heidi or Howard. While both Heidi and Howard were rated as equally competent, students said they found Heidi less humble and more power hungry and self-promoting than Howard. Read more here.