"It’s never been a better time to be a woman."
Kerri Verbeke Kapich is the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships for the San Diego Tourism Authority. She oversees a multimillion dollar, multiplatform effort to position San Diego as a top destination to both work and play. She is a single mom of a teenager and has many stamps in her passport.
Are there enough positive images of complex, professional women out there for young people to see?
In terms of pop culture, it’s never been a better time to be a woman. The most buzz-worthy entertainers are Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and Meryl Streep. They challenge traditional female stereotypes. Arianna Huffington has enjoyed a high-profile career, marriage, and motherhood. She is now 65 and spoke about the important role of sleep in improving productivity and health. Her days of working crazy hours launching a startup taught her the importance of taking care of herself. She has reinvented herself as she has moved through her life and career. Melinda Gates also re-envisioned her career to shift her focus from business to philanthropic success. Locally, Mary Walshok and Mary Lyons have built lasting legacies to boost our innovation economy and higher education institutions.
On creating a support network...
My foundation has always been my family. I’m blessed to have the wisdom and support of my mother, father, and brother. I have a great teenage son who keeps me grounded and reminds me how much I still have to learn. My best friends are women I’ve known forever. We’ve been through it all together, from college to marriage to children to divorce to loss. They are the ones who really know me and tell it to me straight. In tourism marketing, we travel a lot. Travel definitely creates a bond. There is nothing like getting stuck in an airport or lost while driving to bring out the real you.
What’s your strategy now with mentoring others?
I think it is important to understand what motivates that person. For some people it is recognition. For others it is compensation. For some it is getting time with their supervisor. I try to understand what makes that employee tick and then work with them to make sure we’re both on the same page.
Give us some no-nonsense secrets to success…
You need to love what you do. When you have passion for your work, you will put in the time and energy that is needed to be successful. Second, ask for help.
Do millennials drive you crazy?
I love them! They are plugged in and engaged. They are very media savvy and at ease with technology. I also like how excited they are to contribute and grow.
What advice would you give to a young professional about juggling a growing career and starting a family?
Go for it. Becoming a mother was the best thing I ever could have done. Being a working parent hasn’t always been easy but I can’t imagine life any other way!
Do you wish that question was asked of more men? Is it a relevant question at all?
Actually, I think that question is being asked more of men. Studies now show kids are OK, if not better off, with working parents. And there is surely another study showing the opposite. As a society we need to respect individual choices and stop guilting one another that one choice is better than another. You need to respect your choices and do the best you can!
Photography by Flavio Scorsato
Styling by Cecelia Church
Hair & Makeup by Kristi Colby