Career Conversations Series: Meet the Expert! In Life and Food, Sabrina Hwang Likes a Little Spice

Dec 21, 2021
Written by CJ

Junction Live host and CJ's Global SVP of Marketing, Nicole Ron, is joined by CJ Publisher Development Manager, Sabrina Hwang, for part two of Meet the Expert, our four-part career conversation mini-series in which we connect with CJ'ers from across departments and functions to learn about their current roles, career progression, and get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. In this episode, Sabrina discusses how she got her groove back after her first few career roles and the overwhelming support she's received in her time as a CJ'er.

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cj-affiliate-2021-nicole-ron-button-headshotNicole Ron, Global SVP, Marketing, CJ
cj-affiliate-2021-sabrina-hwang-2 Sabrina Hwang, Publisher Development Manager, CJ




Junction Live: Taking thought leadership off the page and into the studio with some of the sharpest minds in affiliate marketing.

NICOLE RON: 00:13 | Hello and welcome to Meet the Expert. A career conversation miniseries in which we connect with CJ’ers from across the globe in a variety of roles to learn about their current roles, career progression, and to get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. Today, we're joined by Sabrina Hwang, a Publisher Development Account Manager in New York City. Let's find out a bit more about Sabrina. Sabrina, I'm super excited to have you on and can't wait to really dig into your experience here at the company. It's so wonderful to have you.

SABRINA HWANG: 00:46 | Oh, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to speak about my time at CJ.

NICOLE RON: 00:51 | Wonderful. And what does a quote-unquote, "typical day" look like for you? I know that can be a challenging question around here. But if you could give me a sense of, how are you spending your time on a daily basis?

SABRINA HWANG: 01:02 | Typically start off my day by going through some emails and looking for some partnership opportunities for my publishers and reaching out to some of the client development team members or agencies to ask for some partnership opportunities, enquire about optimization opportunities. And typically, because I have my clients in Korea and Japan, I would have evening meeting calls between probably 8 PM to (sometimes) 11 PM. But that's not every day. Typically, my team has allowed me to be really flexible with my time knowing that I have some evening calls.

NICOLE RON: 01:48 | Awesome. And before you worked at CJ, just to give me context, what was maybe the most unusual or interesting job that you did?

SABRINA HWANG: 01:57 | I wouldn't say really unusual, but I did find working at the telefund for my university pretty interesting. Speed dialing alumni or parents and asking them for a donation for the school. It was a pretty interesting and challenging job.

NICOLE RON: 02:16 | Besides your budding career in telecalls, trying to collect funds for university, what did you do before you joined CJ?

SABRINA HWANG: 02:26 | My first job out of college was working at Macy's as a merchandise planner in fine jewelry and watches. And then I transitioned to digital marketing for fine jewelry, and I found myself being very, very interested in more of the external facing side of the job. So that's why I was really interested in pivoting my career into client services or client success or account management.

NICOLE RON: 02:57 | Awesome. And how did you first learn about CJ, and what interested you in this company, and specifically, the role that you landed the job with?

SABRINA HWANG: 03:07 | Yeah. I honestly feel very fortunate that I was discovered by Dawn Tice, who is our amazing talent acquisition manager here at CJ. Dawn reached out to me via LinkedIn, talked to me about CJ and what affiliate marketing is. And honestly, at that time, I didn't know anything about affiliate marketing. But just her talking to me about CJ and going through the recruitment process really gave me a brief understanding of affiliate marketing but also, what CJ was like as a company. And I think that's what really drew me into CJ.

NICOLE RON: 03:50 | Did Dawn's hype live up to the reality of what CJ has been for you? Can you talk to me a little bit about what you think the culture is at CJ and some of your favorite parts?

SABRINA HWANG: 04:01 | That's a wonderful question because I actually think CJ's culture and my colleagues are my favorite part about CJ. And Dawn is very representative of that culture and colleagues and how wonderful they are. Because Dawn herself, she's so kind. She is so thoughtful. She really held my hand all throughout the whole process because I actually, somehow, got to interview, also, with the president at the time, which was a pretty unusual experience. But it was really fantastic. I got to talk to him for about an hour and a half. And I really felt like CJ cared a lot about who they hire. And as a culture as well. I always feel like I'm not employee number five. I'm Sabrina Hwang working at Publisher Development, working on APAC publisher growth. And I really love the feeling that my VP knows who I am. And not only just who I am, but what I do. And all the support, the wonderful support I get from my boss and also my entire Publisher Development team.

NICOLE RON: 05:11 | That's amazing. And you talked a little bit about getting to interview with the president and your VP, but do you have any other experiences with CJ leadership that you want to share? And how do you feel like that dynamic is as an associate within the company?

SABRINA HWANG: 05:27 | Like I said, I've been at CJ for about two years. Started as an account manager. I am fortunate enough to be in the New York City office where Mayur, our current president, sits as well. So, with me and Mayur, I would see him from time to time, at least once a week. In the office, we say hi. Sometimes we're in the break room together. We say hi, make small conversation. And leadership at CJ, not just Mayur, Amalia, or anyone else. All the VPs. They're so friendly and they're not intimidating. And yeah, it just feels like they're human. I would say that that was a pretty stark difference—a big difference between my previous job and now where leadership is not just there to watch you or to test you. They're just humans and they really make you feel like they're just coworkers. And I also had the fortunate experience of having a one-on-one with Mayur this year.  I was actually kind of nervous about preparing and I looked at some of my business performance and whatnot. But actually, the conversation was just about us. We just talked about what's going on, about the pandemic, and things like that. And I just feel like Mayur cares about me as an individual person rather than an employee at CJ. And I think that's a really good feeling to have, working at CJ.

NICOLE RON: 07:01 | You talked a little bit about how the role that you came into at CJ two years ago is not the same role that you're in right now. Talk to me about how your role has evolved.

SABRINA HWANG: 07:11 | Yeah. So, when I first started, I started as an APAC Publisher Development Manager looking at overall APAC growth minus the China market as that was handled by my current boss. However, as our global Publisher Development team grew, we wanted to specify everyone's responsibility by market. So rather than me handling everything APAC except for China, now I handle just Korea and Japan markets. But I have a wider range of responsibilities where I am responsible for recruitment, onboarding, as well as the enterprise management and growth of my current publishers. So, I would say it kind of evolved into full ownership of my markets. And now I've become sort of a market expert for Korea and Japan markets. I have a deeper understanding of those two markets rather than having a wider yet not too much of a deep understanding of the overall APAC market.

NICOLE RON: 08:25 | Gotcha. That's great. What a wonderful trajectory. So, another question that I have for you is what challenges you the most at CJ?

SABRINA HWANG: 08:38 | I would say the fast pace or fast-changing affiliate industry, I think, is the most challenging. And how CJ, as a leader of the industry, decides to adapt or change.

NICOLE RON: 08:56 | How do you think CJ is helping you with career development both now, for example, in the role that you're currently in, and also maybe setting you up for the future?

SABRINA HWANG: 09:06 | I would say I, personally, have frequent conversations about career development with my current boss, and his insights and feedback are really great. And I would say every year we have some sort of initiative to realign our roles and responsibilities or just to check in on how we are performing and how we are being measured. And I think that's—I mean, that's really big on our SVP, Kelly, who is always paying attention to what's going on and what are we working on and trying to really reflect our career development based on the responsibilities that we are handling.

NICOLE RON: 09:51 | Wonderful. What have you gained the most from your time at CJ so far?

SABRINA HWANG: 10:01 | I would say confidence. Being in such a supportive environment really allowed me to gain back the confidence that I may have lost a little bit in my first job. Because I think when you first graduate from college and you're so excited about your new future, and then you go into it and not everything's what you expected or you, as a person, with the first job, you're kind of discouraged. But I feel like, at CJ, just the culture and environment, in general, is like, "There is no stupid question. Always ask any questions." And everyone's so friendly. And my boss or my VP, my team, they're always so encouraging of me. And so, I think that really allowed me to build back the confidence that I typically had before. And that trust from your team that, "Oh, we trust Sabrina to do a good job on our project." That really gives you this confidence boost and performance boost, in my opinion, where it allows you to do well in what you're doing and have faith in yourself.

NICOLE RON: 11:17 | Awesome. Let's see. What's one of the biggest hurdles you've had to overcome to get where you are today in your career?

SABRINA HWANG: 11:27 | I had to believe in myself to make the jump to go for the job that I was passionate about—or that I was interested in—which is my current job. Yeah, pivoting from my first job to my second job, I think that that was a big hurdle. And I think I wasn't really confident in myself that I could make that change. But I believed in myself, a lot of my friends encouraged me, and here I am.

NICOLE RON: 11:59 | And we're super happy to have you.

SABRINA HWANG: 12:02 | Thank you.

NICOLE RON: 12:03 | How does CJ support you as a person?

SABRINA HWANG: 12:08 | Actually, I felt really supported, especially this year. Actually, earlier in March, I had an unfortunate incident on the subway where I was verbally accosted by a stranger. And this was during a time of increased hate crimes against Asian people. And I was in so much shock. I've never really experienced something like that in my 10 years of being in America. And I had to share that with my boss. And the amount of support that I received after sharing that with my boss and my team was tremendous. I got outreach from several team members across the department. Kelly was constantly checking in on me and even Mayur checked in on me. And Mayur felt compelled to connect me with someone who could really understand me. So, someone who identifies as East Asian and who is in a leadership position at Publicis. So, he made the connection to her, which was so, so kind of him. And on top of that—I mean, this is a little bit separate, but CJ also launched its diversity and inclusion initiative last year. And I'm one of the committee captains. And that's also where I felt like, "Oh, CJ really cares about everyone and wants to make sure that everyone feels included." So yeah. That's how I feel supported at CJ.

NICOLE RON: 13:48 | That's amazing. Thank you for sharing such a deeply personal story.

SABRINA HWANG: 13:53 | Of course.

NICOLE RON: 13:54 | So what's been your proudest moment at CJ?

SABRINA HWANG: 13:59 | I may have to share two. So, one of which is making this partnership go through with a multinational client with several stakeholders involved in the partnership process. And it was a big deal for me because—not only just the size of the client, but it was a very tricky relationship for us to figure out. And I think that me as an individual and me having my own cultural background, that really helped solidify this partnership because we were trying to do this partnership in Japan. And I really felt like my skills and my background knowledge were appreciated and very helpful in that project. The other one is when I won the Mountain Mover Award at our Publisher Development Peer Recognition Awards.

NICOLE RON: 15:09 | Congratulations!

SABRINA HWANG: 15:11 | Thank you. Thank you. Yes, I am indeed the first person to win that award and I really appreciated that, especially because they were nominated and given by my peers and Publisher Development team. And it was really great to be recognized by my peers.

NICOLE RON: 15:28 | What advice do you have for people who are considering joining our company?

SABRINA HWANG: 15:34 | If you are a self-motivated, driven person who is passionate about client relationships and marketing, I think this is the perfect place for you. And working at a place like that really gives you, yourself, some confidence and pride.

NICOLE RON: 15:57 | As part of Publicis Groupe, have you seen any benefits or new opportunities arise because of that partnership or relationship?

SABRINA HWANG: 16:05 | Oh, yeah. Of course. I would say the biggest opportunity that I had is to be able to be a part of the BRGs, which are Business Resources Group at Publicis. There are so many types of BRGs that anyone can consider joining. And I was part of Gen Next, which is a BRG for young professionals. Because Publicis has so many different agencies, you get to meet and interact with so many different types of people from across agencies. And it's just a great experience and opportunity to be able to learn from other people. Just learn about what they do at their job and just also making friends that way as well.

NICOLE RON: 16:58 | Great. All right. Thanks so much for sharing a bit about your experience as a CJ’er. Now, let's dive into a few rapid-fire questions. The goal of this segment is to get to know you a little bit better. So, answer these questions as quickly as possible with the first thing that comes to mind. All right. Here we go.

What's your favorite place you've ever visited?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:22 | Guam.

NICOLE RON: 17:23 | What's your favorite childhood movie?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:26 | I would say Harry Potter.

NICOLE RON: 17:28 | What's your favorite holiday?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:30 | My favorite holiday is Korean Thanksgiving, which is called Chuseok.

NICOLE RON: 17:34 | Oh. I really want to partake in that. What are you reading right now?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:41 | I'm reading Dear Girls by Ali Wong.

NICOLE RON: 17:45 | Favorite breakfast cereal?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:47 | Frosted flakes.

NICOLE RON: 17:49 | If you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:55 | Math.

NICOLE RON: 17:56 | Window or aisle seat?

SABRINA HWANG: 17:58 | Window.

NICOLE RON: 17:59 | Favorite food?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:00 | The spicy rice cake dish in Korea called tteokbokki. I like to make it super spicy to the point where I'm sweating and my stomach hurts. And I love it.

NICOLE RON: 18:11 | What's your least favorite food?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:14 | Tomatoes.

NICOLE RON: 18:15 | All right. Favorite Disney Animal?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:17 | The horse from Tangled.

NICOLE RON: 18:20 | Oh, yeah. He's a good one. Name a place you want to visit.

SABRINA HWANG: 18:26 | I mean, right now, I really want to visit Korea because I haven't been home the last two years.

NICOLE RON: 18:33 | Oh, yes. What is something you wish you could be good at?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:38 | I really wish I was good at acting.

NICOLE RON: 18:43 | First celebrity crush?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:45 | Brad Pitt.

NICOLE RON: 18:48 | What's your guilty pleasure?

SABRINA HWANG: 18:51 | I love eating a whole bag of this Paleonola cereal just all by myself.

NICOLE RON: 19:03 | What's heavily played on your music playlist right now?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:07 | Whole Lotta Money.

NICOLE RON: 19:08 | What's your favorite beverage?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:13 | Tea.

NICOLE RON: 19:14 | If you could buy yourself anything, what would you buy?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:18 | a $10 million house.

NICOLE RON: 19:19 | There you go. What's your favorite sport to watch?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:22 | Basketball.

NICOLE RON: 19:23 | Mine too. What is one item you could never live without?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:28 | My laptop.

NICOLE RON: 19:29 | And what chore do you hate doing?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:33 | Laundry.

NICOLE RON: 19:33 | What's your dream car?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:36 | Tesla.

NICOLE RON: 19:37 | And what's your best feature?

SABRINA HWANG: 19:39 | My personality.

NICOLE RON: 19:40 | Yeah. Sounds like a good one! Awesome. That's a wrap. Thanks for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode of Meet the Expert, a podcast miniseries, be sure to check out the rest of our Meet the Expert series on Junction.


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Topics: CJ Life,

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