MEET Crystal Barnes. After eight years of working her way up in the media company Nielsen, the global leader in measuring what consumers buy and watch, she is now the Vice President of Industry Relations for the worldwide marketing company. Barnes began with the company as a part of its Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), and from there, went on to working in multicultural outreach and public affairs before landing her VP position in Industry Relations, which focuses on the diverse, demanding and connected consumer.
As a mother, wife and executive at the world’s leading media information company, Barnes knows that the fuel that keeps her going is her sense of responsibility to play an active and leadership role in promoting diversity. Remembering her path to success and acknowledging her passion is the name of her game.
Madame Noire: You were just promoted to Vice President of Industry Relations at Nielsen, just spotlighted in Ad Age’s People On the Move and also spotlighted on Crain’s NY Executive Moves. What is the role you play in your company and how is that role important not just for Nielsen, but for any company?
Crystal Barnes: In my current role, I’m responsible for developing strategic alliances with industry and business associations within the global business community. That means expanding the reach of Nielsen’s thought leadership efforts across the media and consumer industries. The data, insights and analysis that we provide to our clients and stakeholders helps them make informed decisions around their content, brands, products and services. Industry Relations is a major lifeline by which our key messages are shared and disseminated to the business community. As the industry rapidly evolves, it is imperative that we maintain open and active communication channels with our clients, industry influencers and consumers. Listening to and connecting the dots between these constituents is a business imperative for most companies.
MN: You began your career with Nielsen in 2004 as a part of the company’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) and have been working your way up in the company ever since. What is it about the field of marketing and media information and the company that made you continue your career with Nielsen?
CB: Nielsen’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) focuses on developing diverse talent and leadership throughout the company by exposing participants to various industries and expertise. The idea of rotating through multiple departments and gaining a cross-section of experiences was fascinating to me. Post program, I continued to expand my expertise through multiple positions on what I call a “permanent life rotation.” As a marketer, there is no such thing as knowing too much. With these experiences came leadership growth and competency mastery. Working in an environment that encourages curiosity and rewards a degree of risk is empowering.
MN: Prior to joining Nielsen, what was your professional background and experience?
CB: Prior to joining Nielsen, I worked at WHP, a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, MD. I received my Bachelor’s degree at Temple University (Philadelphia PA) with a major in Broadcast Telecommunications and Mass Media and a minor in Business.
MN: A lot of your responsibilities throughout your years at Nielsen focused on community affairs, civic and social service partnerships and commitments to diversity within the company. Why is that a passion of yours, and how important is it for a company to make these responsibilities important?
CB: Some of my best years at Nielsen were dedicated to community and public affairs. It’s simply a passion of mine. To be placed in a position to help educate our communities on the benefits of your company’s expertise is an honor. We as individuals wear many hats; however, at the end of the day, we are all consumers. The power in Nielsen’s message lies in the consumer’s ability for her voice to be heard through the insights and analysis that we provide to our clients. Educating communities on how to exercise their power is an import message to deliver.