Women in Mobile: Bosses of the Industry – Sophia Fen @ 3Q Digital

By Morgan Friberg | March 9, 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.

Realizing her stroke of luck by starting her career in San Francisco, the epicenter of the mobile industry, Sophia Fen at 3Q Digital is extremely happy now residing in San Diego where the quality of life and opportunities to relax is “the place to be.” As part of our 2020 “Women in Mobile: Bosses of the Industry” series, Sophia talks about her career and life in beautiful San Diego, CA.

Tell us about your current role.

I am the Director of Mobile Strategy at 3Q Digital, a full service digital advertising agency. I help oversee multi-channel digital marketing campaign strategies for 3Q’s mobile app clients including companies in verticals spanning social networking, health & fitness, eCommerce, and fintech. While 3Q has a full service offering, I focus mainly on mobile apps.

Every day is different for me, but my main responsibilities include ensuring efficient paid media campaign performance across different channels, building and growing both UA and re-engagement campaigns, maintaining client relationships, as well as mentoring and training our junior team members.

I also help manage partner relationships with great companies, like Liftoff. I advise our clients as well as internal team members and peers on topics including paid media strategies, the mobile app ecosystem, fraud prevention, app store strategy, and attribution.

Walk us through your typical work day.

I typically get in the office around 8:30am. Most days start off with internal team syncs to discuss what we’re doing that day, what’s top of mind and high priority. Next, I usually have a couple of client meetings, so I prepare for those and help lead them.

Outside of that, it all really depends. Some recent projects I am working on include performing account audits and putting together QBRs. Other days include compiling competitor research for a specific category or doing creative or fraud analysis. The mobile team’s job at 3Q is to develop and continue to push forward best in class programs for our clients, so each day revolves around that in one way or another.

It’s 2020. What was your career path this past decade?

Throughout college I held internships in different industries (including advertising, public relations, and government) to help figure out what I really wanted to pursue. After that I worked at a media agency called Carat in San Francisco. I worked on the Disney Parks and Resorts account for a couple of years. That’s where I really learned the fundamentals of media planning and buying. I was lucky to have amazing clients, media partners, and co-workers. 

After that I moved here to San Diego to work at 3Q Digital where I started on the programmatic team. I learned the ins and outs of managing campaigns myself within self-serve DSPs. I then transferred to the mobile team, which is the team I’m on today!

What is one thing you wish you knew 10 years ago?

One thing I wish I learned earlier was to not be too hard on myself, to learn from my mistakes and move on. Too often, especially earlier in my career, I would over analyze situations or mistakes. It’s important to keep in mind that we’re only human and if you make a mistake— it’s okay, as long as you use that experience to your advantage, learn from it, and move forward. I think this is much more productive than overanalyzing.

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

Some of the most important traits I view as requirements to succeed include being positive, driven, adaptable, and keeping an open mind.

I think it’s also important to understand the difference between working hard and working smart. As a woman in the workforce, it’s also sometimes important to be more assertive than what may feel natural to us. Lastly, seek out a mentor or advocate, and respect those that you work with. That one goes a long way.

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

I would be doing something either in corporate social responsibility or something related to travel/tourism. I prioritize both of these in my free time. Giving back to the community is extremely important to me, either through volunteering or donating. I also love to travel as often as I can to experience new countries, cultures and experiences.

What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made and why?

I think it was moving from Boston to San Francisco for my first “real job” after college. If you work in digital marketing or tech, nowhere really compares to the Bay Area in terms of opportunity, networking, or resources in general.

I live in San Diego now, but make it up there about once a month. I don’t think you need to stay there forever, but it was a great place to kickstart my career. I had so many positive experiences and made a lot of really great connections there.

Can you recall a specific mistake you made and share what you learned from it?

One mistake comes to mind from pretty early in my career. I mistakenly sent an entire media plan to one of our partners which included a ton of information they weren’t supposed to see: other media partners’ budgets, flight dates, rates and more.

It really helped me learn from the situation and then to my earlier point, move forward. It also taught me to reread emails a couple of times before sending (and to utilize the undo send functionality of Gmail).

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

Working out helps me clear my head and really helps me be in a positive mindset, no matter what’s going on at work or even outside of work. I also think it’s important to take time for yourself to do things that make you happy and relaxed, no matter if they’re small or big. 

For example, for me that means going to watch the sunset at the beach after work or planning a trip somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit (Vancouver is next!). It’s important to take that time for yourself to reset. Otherwise, you will end up burning yourself out.

One fun fact about yourself that few people know?

One summer during college I interned at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C.. Although I (obviously) didn’t pursue a career in politics, I did learn and grow a lot as an individual. I also had the opportunity to both see and meet many intelligent, influential people that we often only see on TV or read about on the news. It was a really good experience.

What is the number one resource you recommend to women?

I have two.

The first one is Lois Frankel’s book called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. My boss and mentor recommended it to me, which I’ve since recommended to my team. I don’t necessarily agree with the book title; I have found kindness certainly goes a long way in the workspace and also life in general, but the book helped me realize a lot of small things I didn’t even notice I was doing. For example, it helped me learn how to differentiate between helping others and being used, to not over apologize, and also to not minimize the great work that we all do.

The second resource I recommend is 81cents.com, especially for those navigating their careers and difficult compensation conversations. They are an amazing company that helps women and underrepresented minorities make sure they’re being paid market rate. They do this by sourcing compensation data and offering personalized career advice from hiring managers and recruiters in relevant fields.

Connect with Sophia on LinkedIn