How to Make Your Mark With Taco Bell Vice President of Digital Experiences Zipporah Allen

As a senior marketing executive at Yum! Brands, Zipporah (Zip) Allen has a passion for creating experiences that consumers will love and creating environments that bring out the best in people. Now Vice President, Digital Experiences at Taco Bell, Zip’s responsibilities center around driving the customer experience through the brand’s digital channels—kiosk, app, web and delivery.

Here is what Zip had to say when we asked her about making your mark:

What are the three most important elements of building a digital brand as a person or a company?

I have actually been working on my brand right now. It comes back to the basics. First, understand who you are and what you stand for. My brand of leadership is unique to me, and it’s what makes me special and allows me to bring something to the table that no one else can. Early in my career, I shied away from what made me different, but now that’s what I embrace. Second, really know who you are for. What are the channels that work really well for you? For myself, in using my voice and building my brand, Twitter is not a platform I use. Third, be consistent on what you stand for and reinforce that over time. I have always been passionate about women in leadership, so I make time to pursue this passion whether it’s through volunteering on panels or attending conferences.  

How can one craft her personal elevator pitch?

You want to pull out pieces from your experiences. When someone says, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ I say, ‘I am a marketing executive who sits at the center of building brands, creating experiences, and driving performance.’ When you look at my resume, you can see that this is true. Reflect on your past, and look at the key themes that come up. Have you been a team player? Met deadlines? Adapted to changing environments? The second piece of creating your elevator pitch is spending time thinking about what is special about you and what you bring to the table. I am great at developing talent, so I bring this up when someone asks me about myself. Tying together what is consistent about your past and what is special about you is really the heart of the elevator pitch. 

In a world that is constantly being shaped by changes in technology, what types of skills should young professionals develop to become competitive job candidates?

There are a few different skills, both hard and soft. First, if you want to work in business, you have to know how the business makes money. ‘Follow the money’ as they say! Earlier in my career when I was the Chief Marketing Officer of Pizza Hut, I saw that consumers were starting to make digital shifts, so I had my team focus on digital marketing. Second, you need to be able to build and maintain relationships wherever you work. The world is extremely small and it only gets smaller as you build your career. Always try to leave relationships intact, and make them professional and productive in every scenario you come across.

What tips do you have for being an effective digital communicator?

One, tone doesn’t always translate well in digital communication. If it’s going to be a difficult conversation, or background or context is important, pick up the phone or have a video call. Second, be able to message really quickly. My team uses Slack as almost our primary form of communication because it is real time. I tell my team, however, if they need a response immediately, to text me—be upfront and clear with these communication preferences. Three, use emojis (as long as it’s in an appropriate context). I am a smiley, happy person, so I use a lot of emojis! This helps me convey my tone and mood. 

In creative meetings, how can you make sure that your voice is heard and you are making valuable contributions to the team?

This is something I struggled with early in my career. Get rid of the notion that there is a right answer. Specifically, in creative endeavors, no one has a crystal ball that forecasts the right answer. I depend on the new people on my team because they have fresh eyes, new ideas, and different perspectives. As a team member, you have a responsibility to speak up, but you want to do it in the right way. A way to signal that you have a different opinion is to say, ‘I know we are brainstorming here, so can we think about the problem like this? What if we put ourselves in the customer’s seat?’ This way you can respectfully make sure your voice is heard. 

 As a senior marketing executive at Yum! Brands, Zipporah (Zip) Allen has a passion for creating experiences that consumers will love and creating environments that bring out the best in people. Now Vice President, Digital Experiences at Taco Bell, Zip’s responsibilities center around driving the customer experience through the brand’s digital channels – kiosk, app, web and delivery. Prior to relocating to her native Southern California for her current role at Taco Bell, Zip was Chief Marketing Officer for Pizza Hut U.S., based in Dallas. She was responsible for driving brand relevance and business growth for Pizza Hut’s 7,500 U.S. locations. In that role, Zip and her team led the national marketing campaigns, brand purpose initiatives, and brand partnerships for Pizza Hut. She overhauled the company’s pricing strategy to regain market share, orchestrated a multi-year sponsorship with the National Football League and launched the first ever rewards program to drive incremental visits to the brand. Prior to Pizza Hut, Zip held various global marketing and strategy roles at McDonald’s Corporation. Most notably, she spent three years in Australia re-structuring the company’s approach to business planning and launching the award-winning “McDonald’s becomes Macca’s” campaign. Zip earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from USC, and her MBA in Marketing and Finance from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. She lives in Southern California with her husband Jason and their two children. 

To learn more about Zip, visit https://www.linkedin.com/in/zipporah-allen.

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