Women in Mobile: Bosses of the Industry – Bruna Amaya @ Hurb

By Bruna Amaya | March 16, 2020

This article is part of Liftoff’s Women in Mobile: Bosses of the Industry series, featuring in-depth interviews with inspiring women in the mobile industry.

Bruna is the Head of Marketing at Hotel Urbano (Hurb), the leading online travel agency (OTA) in Brazil, based in Rio de Janeiro. She’s had experience in many marketing channels, but found her passion for Mobile Marketing when leading the growth team that led Hurb’s app to becoming their most important channel.

Learn more from her Mobile Hero profile.

It was no easy feat for Bruna Amaya to go from intern to app marketer to Head of Marketing, all while at Hurb (formerly Hotel Urbano), an online platform that enables travelers to find and reserve accommodation and activities based in Brazil. She chalks a portion of her success up to being curious and humble to talk about topics she doesn’t necessarily know about. She’s never afraid to ask questions, no matter what her title is.

Tell us about your current role.

I’m the Head of Marketing at Hurb, a Brazilian online travel agency that markets the largest number of lodging options on the internet. While I used to focus on all major channels (Facebook and Google, meta-search, etc), my current single focus is our mobile app.

My team and I work everyday to build an excellent “app house”. What makes it excellent and unique are the people and our cross-functional nature. We work closely with product, IT, data science and performance media marketing.

My management style is hands-on. It’s a tough balance staying close to daily optimization and testing while empowering the team to grow with autonomy. The one thing that is constant is curiosity. In such a dynamic environment, knowledge can quickly become obsolete. I never stop studying and learning and expect the same from every team member. This is how we built the “app house” to be strong today and for the future.

What has been your career path?

My background is in Industrial Engineering. I never imagined I would land in Marketing. I joined Hurb.com in 2016 as an intern rotating across multiple marketing departments.

My entire career in digital marketing has been shaped here at Hurb. When I first joined, I didn’t even know what a CPC was and was lucky to find a team of amazing people and an incredible mentor – Hurb’s CEO, João.

After joining Hurb, my scope and responsibility took off really fast. It was only seven months after I joined the company that our CEO challenged me to take on managing our mobile app and soon after that other marketing channels as well like Google, Facebook, e-mail marketing and more. As Head of Marketing, we built the team from scratch which quickly grew from 15 to 60 people. For the first time we had a mobile app-focused strategy and no longer duplicated the website experience within the app. I caught myself leaning more and more towards the app space, which fascinated me.

Earlier in my career, I used to think that growing my scope of work was a signal of success. With time I realized that owning such a high potential channel takes time, effort and a different set of skills that weren’t necessarily transferable. It was at this time that I took a step back and developed a plan.

I remember the day I pitched the CEO on building an app-only marketing team, and focus 100% of my time on this. For the first time I narrowed my scope down, believing my contributions in this area would be much greater than managing marketing across multiple channels. At the time, our app accounted for a single-digit share of Hurb’s revenue. Within two years, our mobile app grew to account for one third of our revenue. Hard decisions I learned lead to growth, and throughout this time I’ve experienced tremendous personal and professional development, often painful at first, but extremely rewarding.

What is one thing you wish you knew at the start of your career?

That success is a collective accomplishment. I used to think that to prove myself I had to make everything happen on my own. I had all the energy and strong will, and also thought credit would be deserved if I did everything by myself. I took on many projects at a time, and looked less after others. It took time, experience and strain to realize that rallying a team together is more challenging than doing everything alone and definitely more gratifying.

There’s an article from Harvard Business Review that explains the difference between managers and great managers. When you are a manager you play checkers. Your entire team has the same movements—they have the same qualities.

Great managers, on the other hand, play chess. They identify the best qualities of each team member and get the best output from all of them collectively. Great managers know and value the unique abilities of their staff, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.

By helping others succeed, I’ve come to learn that we all thrive. This lesson has made me a better leader.

As a professional woman, what does it take to succeed in today’s world?

Keep learning, remain curious, do what you love and be your best self everyday. This shouldn’t differ based on gender, however women do face challenges that are gender-related. In this short list, we see how women often have roadblocks asking questions or having their ideas valued in a room that is male dominant, which has a strong impact on keeping curiosity and being your best self.

My experience at Hurb, however, is very different. I’m fortunate that most leaders here are women and there’s a high level of gender bias awareness. I also have a great level of responsibility to remain an active role model, to continue nurturing this culture and pass it along, both internally and externally.

If you weren’t in the mobile industry, what would you be doing?

I would be doing logistics or something related to industrial engineering. I used to work in a company called Ball Corporation. They sell cans to Coca-Cola and other bottling companies. My job was to make the production lines work faster.

Can you share some self-care habits that help you be the best version of yourself?

I wish I could say I meditate, but I don’t! One of my 2020 resolutions is to take better care of myself, do things that I like and have more work-life balance. I exercise whenever possible and I read a lot. I enjoy studying leadership, reading about the mobile industry, learning and developing myself. It makes me really happy when I allocate time for these self-care habits.

One fun fact about yourself that few people know?

My age. I’m currently 24. It’s been a challenge because sometimes people don’t trust my skills or capabilities because I am young. I was 22 when I became Head of Marketing. When I speak publicly representing Hurb, I sense bias for “looking like an intern”. I don’t overthink it; I deliver my best work, results follow, and I earn people’s trust.

What is the number one resource you recommend to women?

First, I believe that women have the power of building community. Each of us should create and stay close to our networks. When I first took on the app responsibility at Hurb, the single person who was a mobile marketing expert left the company two months later. I had to get out there and learn from people—these connections helped me grow. Being curious also makes your participation in networks more relevant. I’d go to events, ask any company to pitch their product, and have my go-to people for different topics. And on the flip-side, I’m always open to chat with others who need help too.

Second, keep reading. From online content, to books and articles. Read about your core job, build your soft-skills, and increase awareness on gender bias. By reading and learning about these topics, I became more conscious of my own triggers and surroundings. It helped me navigate gender issues in my own career as well as with people around me.

Connect with Bruna on LinkedIn