International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate the determination and courage of all women who play vital roles in their communities. In honor of today, we sat down with Chief Marketing Officer Crystal Kemp to discuss the challenges that accompany being a woman in business.
Crystal continually #breaksthebias as a woman in business. In 2018, Crystal was promoted to chief marketing officer at Conway Corp and became the company’s first female executive officer. In 2020, Crystal was named to Cablefax’s annual list of powerful women in the cable and internet industry and in 2021 was named as the Cablefax Independent Marketer of the Year.
She has been recognized in the community for her work mentoring youth, especially young women – serving as a Girl Scout troop leader for 18 years, more than 20 years as a volunteer with the Conway Area Youth Leadership Institute and most recently as a Circle of Influence leader for the U
niversity of Central Arkansas Women’s Leadership Network.
Most recently, Crystal was honored by the Conway Public Schools Foundation with the 2023 Friend of the District Award.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
Several years ago, I wrote as my mission – Encourage, engage and equip others to believe in the possibilities. International Women’s Day is a great day to do that. It gives us the opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements look for ways to keep encouraging women to reach their goals.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO CONWAY CORP?
I came to work at Conway Corp in November 2000 as Marketing Coordinator. My main focus, at that time, was on our video and internet products. We needed strategies for customer education and promotion of those products. I focused on working with customer service and our cable technicians to make sure they had the tools they needed to provide customer education and support and on developing a brand standard and strategy.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” Brené Brown
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB AT CONWAY CORP?
There are many things I love about working at Conway Corp – the people I work with and the many ways Conway Corp gives back to the community are my favorite. Conway Corp employees are so committed to the service of our customers and to one another – it really makes all the difference to work alongside people who care so much. I also love getting to be a part of the ways that Conway Corp gives back and seeing what we do, as a company, to make Conway a better place.
WHY DID YOU PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING?
I have a degree in Media Arts from Lyon College. In college, I enjoyed being on newspaper and yearbook staff – I loved storytelling. My first job out of college was with the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. When we moved to Conway and I worked for the Conway Area Chamber for seven years. While in college, I didn’t know anything about a chamber of commerce. But, during those years, I learned ways to use my skills to pursue opportunities for leadership, communications and marketing.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY BARRIERS IN YOUR CAREER DUE TO BEING A WOMAN? IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVEROCOME THEM?
I’ve reached a point in my career where I am very comfortable with the value I bring to my job – what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at. There are definitely times when I am aware that I am the only woman in a meeting or where I am attending a conference where there are very few women present. But I also know there were times when there were no women in those rooms. I want to be a voice that brings other voices with me.
Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress in 1968 – the year I was born. She said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” I’m fine with a folding chair. I just want for us to keep making room at the table.
IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH THREE INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD THEY BE AND WHY?
I would want dinner to be at grandparent’s home sitting at the bar off the kitchen where I spent many hours while growing up. My grandmother would be there and my daughter would join us. I’d love for them to meet. Then, I’d bend the rules so my mom and sisters could be there. Party of six. They all inspire me in so many ways.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE TO WOMEN TRYING TO BREAK INTO THIS INDUSTRY?
I don’t know that my advice is industry specific – but know yourself, your strengths, the things you need to work on and your passion. Bring those things to the table. Pull your chair up to the table – sometimes it will be a comfy chair and sometimes it will be your folding chair – take your seat and know you deserve to be there.