Despina Kartson is the Chief Marketing Officer at BakerHostetler where she works with lawyers to develop enduring and profitable client relationships and manages the communications, marketing and business development areas.
I was lucky enough to share the stage with Despina a few years ago as co-panelists on a Legal Marketing Association program about how to position yourself for success. I remember sitting next to her and being impressed with her insights and how she navigated her career path, rising to become the CMO/CMBDO at several major law firms, including Jones Day, Morgan Lewis and Latham & Watkins. She inspired me to believe that I could also achieve success like she did.
Learn more about Despina in this Women Who Wow profile.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the variety of responsibilities and activities that I lead every day. Whether it’s working on business development initiatives, client communications, media relations, digital marketing or strategic planning, all are important components of my role and areas that are of great interest to me.
I also genuinely enjoy working in a team environment: leading, managing, collaborating and mentoring. Working with a strong team of BD professionals – each one making valuable contributions – yields great results and is very rewarding. As the noted author Ken Blanchard wrote, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
Any advice to women who want to succeed in the workplace?
My advice is to be intellectually curious and demonstrate your curiosity by participating in a broad range of projects within and outside of your core job responsibilities. Being open to new areas expands your interests and demonstrates to your supervisors that you have room to grow.
I also think it’s important to take calculated risks. Be thoughtful and analytical about making a change that may seem risky but if your analysis leads you toward deciding to take the risk, do it. It’s one of the best ways to move forward.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
Work-life balance is achieved over the course of a week or a month but striving for balance on a daily basis is difficult. There will be times when work is dominant and times when life is dominant. Recognizing that balancing is ever changing will keep things in perspective.
I achieve work/life balance because I’m good at compartmentalizing. I begin my day very early with exercise and yoga. I have time on my calendar set aside for the early morning hours to address critical work and overnight requests. I make use of every moment of the day and am always online and while this may be intense, it also ensures that I’m productive and staying on top of things. Ultimately, this alleviates the stress and pressure of only working when there is a greater length of available time.
As a working mother, excellent child care was a priority. It enabled me to raise my daughter mostly as a single mother with the same two child care providers for 18 years. We shared the same values and both women were integral parts of the loving and safe home environment in which I raised my daughter.
How has social media helped you build your brand?
Social media is important to build your personal and professional brand because it shows your audience what you are interested in and makes you relatable. People like to know more about each other, understand what makes them tick and their passions. Within reason, share yourself on social media and engage with your audiences.