Karlaa V. Williams
29, Digital Marketing Analyst at Sumitomo Drive Technologies, Chesapeake
Business community involvement:
Norfolk Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Something that makes you stand out in your industry?
I always have my ear to the ground searching for new tactics to try on social media to engage my audience and have them complete a set action. In a crowd, I can be easily spotted for my big hair and adoration of bright colors and anything leopard print. During networking events, you can often find me at the middle of the crowd telling one of my amazing stories.
Someone who keeps you motivated?
My mentor, Occasio Gee. When I first began in the digital marketing field, I was very green. Always being labeled as different, under his mentorship he showed me that different is OK! There have been many times when I would get frustrated that a campaign or strategy didn’t yield the results I wanted, but he would not let me give up. Instead he pushed me to see the why in my data and answer the question, “What can you do different next time?” No matter what happens in life, he always sees the silver lining and motivates me to always be myself, keep my chin up and never stop learning.
What’s a challenge you’ve had to overcome to find success?
Overcoming the feelings of “Imposter Syndrome.” This syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Many times, I felt that I didn’t belong with such a skilled marketing team, even though my stats were extraordinary year over year and I was always being praised for my social media work. At one point I stopped accepting new clients because I felt they could find a better consultant. With seeing a qualified therapist, a strong mentor and keeping an eye on on my Google Data Studio dashboard, I overcame my doubts and applied for (and won) this honor.
What new idea or development are you most excited about in Coastal Virginia right now?
As a foodie, I am most excited for Granby Station, Hampton Roads’ first and only food hall! Since Downtown has rebranded with The Main, Waterside and more, I believe this addition will place it on top of any “must visit in Norfolk” lists.
What do you think is Coastal Virginia’s biggest challenge?
Inner city transportation. Tolls sometime prevent people from wanting to travel to Portsmouth; traffic prevents some from going to the Southside. This is something that the area is working on, by expanding I-64, finally finishing the Lesner Bridge and the HRBT proposal project. I was very disappointed when The Tide project was rejected by Virginia Beach citizens. As a Virginia Beach resident, I felt this could have been instrumental in providing low-rate travel, easing traffic congestion and making the two cities more connected.
Favorite place in Coastal Virginia to go on the weekends?
Farmhouse Brewing in Virginia Beach. The atmosphere is beautiful in every season, but the best time is in the fall. They have cozy bonfires, pumpkin patches and seasonal brews.
From her nomination:
“Karlaa’s extraordinary focus and strategic way of thinking always made her a stand-out member of the team. Since beginning at Liberty, Karlaa brought a passion for marketing and she fine-tuned the voice of Liberty’s social media content.”
—Occasio Gee, mentor/former manager