Fake news, cyber bullying, extremist views, and debates that divide instead of connect are some of the pitfalls associated with social media.
That is why Pinterest Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Andréa Mallard, Artsci’99, is grateful her job involves bringing positivity to the world of social media.
“I'd never join a company that I didn't think was fundamentally a net positive for the world,” says Mallard. “People call Pinterest the last positive corner of the Internet for a reason. We do not drive engagement through enragement.”
While excessive use of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter) have been linked to increased risk of anxiety and depression, Pinterest is squarely focused on inspiring users to create a life they love. Users pin images and videos about recipes, style, motivation, wellness, and do-it-yourself projects.
Mallard’s job is to establish an iconic, global brand and attract and retain users from across the world. She also works with the sales team to help drive revenue, manages investor relations, and works with notable legislators, academics, and thought leaders on how to build a more inspired Internet for young people.
Since Mallard joined Pinterest as CMO in 2018, revenue has gone up more than 370 per cent, and she’s launched marketing initiatives to highlight the platform’s reputation for inspiration and positivity. The recent “Don’t Don’t Yourself” campaign encourages people to stop doubting themselves and inspires them to overcome to internal and external saboteurs distracting them from creating a life they love.
“I want to help create a place where the world builds on each other’s ideas, rather than tears them apart,” Mallard said. “I believe deeply in aperture-opening power of inspiration and how it can galvanize an urge to act in the real world. Pinterest might be the only social media platform that judges itself on its ability to get our users to put down their phones and do something in their actual lives.”
Before joining Pinterest, Mallard worked in various industries and locations around the world. She spent time as a journalist with the CBC in Toronto and England, as director of strategic planning with Forbes magazine, design director at IDEO (a global innovation consultancy), and marketing executive in healthcare, apparel, and now, consumer tech.
It’s not a resume most people would expect from a politics graduate. But Mallard says she was able to quickly learn core business skills while on the job thanks in part to her liberal studies education.
“Over the years, I kept taking on roles that used a lot of the skills I built at Queen’s, which was research, analysis, synthesis, statistics, and storytelling,” said Mallard, who was the editor of Ultraviolet creative arts magazine while at Queen’s. “I would argue the business landscape is changing so rapidly that what you really need to learn in undergrad is how to think versus what to think.”
Her advice to Queen’s students looking to enter the technology and social media industry is focus on what you know. Someone from the Gen Z generation might not be able to teach Mallard much about business strategy or technology, but a younger employee’s strength is knowing the likes and dislikes of Gen Z.
“Every social media platform—and frankly, company— in the world is trying to figure out how to attract Gen Z,” Mallard says. “If you happen to be a Gen Z undergrad, pull together five things you think your target company is missing or misunderstanding about your generation. It’s a way to get in the door.”