Women in Mobile: Career Lessons from Cassie Chernin @ Scopely
This article is part of Liftoff’s Women in Mobile series in partnership with mBolden, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping women get connected, stay inspired and become empowered through content and events.
In 2017, Cassie Chernin was featured as a Liftoff Mobile Hero. At the time, she led mobile app growth at HomeAdvisor, a home improvement app. Since then, Cassie has held senior marketing roles at Ibotta, the Boston Consulting Group and most recently Scopely, an interactive entertainment company and mobile games publisher. We caught up with Cassie to chat about navigating career transitions as a woman in mobile.
How did you decide to pursue a career in mobile?
Marketing has always been my passion. After graduating Boston University with a degree in Business and a concentration in marketing, I started in a marketing role at an e-commerce startup. For about four years, I was put on a rotating program and worked on everything from product and merchandising to retention and site optimization. Having experienced many different disciplines of marketing, I chose to focus on acquisition.
The decision to pursue a career in mobile was an accident. I was looking for a new opportunity in NYC and got a job doing display marketing user acquisition for Babbel, the language learning app. I was amazed at how engaged the user base was. App users all go through the process of downloading an app, which makes them more invested — and engaged — compared to a casual website user. I decided to learn more.
Tell us about your new role at Scopely.
I recently joined Scopely as a Senior User Acquisition Manager, driving implementation and strategic acquisition of users. Making the move to Scopely was intriguing, as the role blends my previous growth and app expertise with the gaming industry—a new area of focus for me. Mobile has become the dominant force in gaming and I’m excited by the challenge ahead. Scopely has a hugely diverse portfolio of original and beloved franchises including the award-winning Star Trek™ Fleet Command, WWE Champions, The Walking Dead: Road to Survival™, YAHTZEE® With Buddies, Wheel of Fortune®: Free Play and Looney Tunes™ World of Mayhem, along with a number of upcoming products—which are currently my focus. I’m excited to get even more players to experience our new and existing games around the globe.
What challenges have you faced in an industry traditionally dominated by men?
There are a few. My biggest challenge has been not being heard. With all my passion and knowledge, I often found it hard to speak up in a room full of men interrupting each other, yelling over each other, and acting in an aggressive manner. I felt like I had to overeducate myself so people knew that I was smart enough to get a word in. This is a problem. Why as a woman do I feel like I need to be more educated and more informed than the men in the room to talk? A solution to this challenge could be to disrupt the default masculine meeting culture of disorganization and disarray by establishing clear agendas, setting times for everyone to talk, and agreeing on specific outcomes. And no, I will not take notes for you.
This challenge is only intensified when you are the only woman in a meeting room. Everyone, especially men leaders in your company, should read the latest McKinsey report to understand what gender equality means and what we need to do to make real change.
Another challenge I’ve faced is finding a good female mentor. With so many managers and people in leadership positions being men, I often had to search outside my company to find female mentorship.
What do you see as some of the best and worst initiatives designed to promote women in tech?
I’ve attended a few events from mBolden and loved them. I haven’t seen bad initiatives to promote women in tech; I think the worst problem women in tech encounter is when men try to get too involved or believe they have a right to the same programs.
In my experience, some official woman mentorship programs have got ruined by men who said they also wanted a mentorship program shaped the same way and with the same people.
As a white woman, I am also learning about the advantage I have over women of other races and ethnicities. I think women in tech programs need to focus on not just women programs and empowerment but specific initiatives for women with diverse backgrounds. If you do review the McKinsey report, this is the group of people most affected by gender inequality.
Is there one piece of advice you wish somebody gave you at the beginning of your career?
The hard and honest truth is that you are not curing cancer. Life-or-death situations are rare in our jobs. That’s what I say when I see my direct reports get torn up over a bid change or personally attached to a creative that doesn’t work. No one will die, let’s move on, let’s learn. This applies to our day-to-day jobs as well as life beyond work. Working smart means working hard for 8 hours a day and finding the time to go to a yoga class after work or cooking dinner — or both. This is much more productive than grinding out 12+-hour days for weeks to the point where your mental and physical health suffers.
That said, I’m not always following my own advice, but I remind myself about it every day and every time I make a mistake.
Who is your biggest career inspiration in the industry?
My career inspiration changes daily. One day it could be a company with a strong brand identity that I love, such as Taco Bell or Domino’s, another day it could be my co-worker who created a new email program that heavily changes LTV/CAC. I’m also currently reading Michelle Obama’s book — she is definitely a role model for all women.
What has been the most career-defining moment for you?
One of my greatest accomplishments was starting app user acquisition at HomeAdvisor. We had a compelling app, but no one was using it. This experience was like a crash course in app marketing for me. Between testing channels, creating an LTV model, and integrating an MMP, we managed to grow the app marketing budget to an expected $15M last year from $200K in my first year.
At the same time, some of my less-fortunate endeavors turned out to also be very career-defining. Most recently, I spent seven weeks working for a global management consulting firm only to learn that it wasn’t right for me. I came to realize that I much prefer to work on the client-side as part of a team. Understanding better what I want out of my career and choosing to move on has been career-defining for me.
Who has been your biggest advocate or mentor?
I’ve had a few amazing women mentors. In my first job at Gemvara, an online jewelry store, I was mentored by the company’s CEO Janet Holian. She put me on a rotating program where I was able to start my career in marketing. Janet was a huge advocate of mine and really shaped my career into what it is today.
My mentor right now is Sarah Post, who briefly worked with me at Ibotta. As I’ve grown in my career, my mentor relationships have changed. With Janet it was very tactical: “How would you execute this marketing budget?” Now I turn to my mentors for advice on how to leave a job on good terms, how to navigate office politics, or how to empower women just starting out in this career. It is top-of-mind for me as a woman leader: How can I create safe places for women at male-dominated companies? Sarah is my best advisor on these issues, because she is also passionate about women in marketing.
My favorite mentorship meetings happen outside of the office. It is easier to have hard conversations over coffee or wine. With my current mentor, we often just text, because we are both very busy.
Fun fact about you that few people know?
The fact that I constantly feel imposter syndrome probably isn’t fun but something worth bringing up in an interview about women in mobile. I might look confident but in my mind, I’m asking myself: How did I get here? I think a lot of women feel this way.
A more fun fact, I love baking bread. I adore the whole process of doing something with my hands that is scientific and creative. Gluten makes me happy, sue me.