The deadline for Ad Age’s annual 40 Under 40 feature is just a few weeks away. Ahead of its publication on Oct. 4, we are asking former honorees to share career advice, including how they got to where they are today. Don’t forget to nominate your own rising stars for this year’s list ahead of the July 15 deadline. You can do so at AdAge.com/40u40.
Last year, Ad Age featured Katie Soo, then senior VP, growth marketing at HBO Max, on its annual 40 Under 40 list. Since then, she has helped increase the streaming service's domestic subscriber count by roughly 25% and navigated the ever-shifting COVID climate.
Now, Soo is taking on a new role this month as chief marketing officer of KiwiCo, a 10-year-old startup that makes subscription science kits for kids. Below, she tells Ad Age about her final year at HBO Max, her current transition to KiwiCo, and learning to take up space as a woman of color in the business world.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
When Ad Age honored you in our 40 Under 40 section last year, you were at HBO Max, but you're moving to a new job. Congratulations! Tell us about your new gig.
Since the launch of HBO Max, I helped HBO/HBO Max domestic subscribers grow from 33 million to 44.2 million at the end of first quarter, bringing in more than 11 million subscribers. After supporting our recent launch of both AVOD [ad-supported video on demand] and international, I felt it was the right time to take on a new challenge and category I was passionate about at a purpose-driven company that was making a global difference. Given that, I’m very excited to share that I will be joining KiwiCo as their chief marketing officer. This role gives me the opportunity to take everything I've learned in my career, and apply it to an area of learning and development for kids that I'm deeply passionate about. I'm naturally a curious person, and being able to enrich the lives of kids and families through STEM [science, technology, engineering, maths] STEAM [STEM plus arts education], and science fit well with what I was looking for next.
I'm also incredibly inspired by KiwiCo's mission to create and celebrate kids' natural creativity and curiosity, while helping parents who want to bring enriching experiences to their children. They make the learning experience fun, easy, and delightful for families to spend time building, exploring and creating together. KiwiCo hopes that the problem-solving skills and creative confidence that kids gain today will help them tackle the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
What was the biggest change in your role at HBO Max due to the pandemic?
Taking a growing team fully virtual, while up against the pressing timeline to launch HBO Max. We were not only able to accomplish this, my team was also able to maintain a strong and collaborative team culture, actively supporting each other throughout the launch, pandemic, and the evolving landscape of growth marketing.
What is one lesson you’ve learned from the last year?
Last year, we started to realize the social impact of our individual actions and the need to act as one collective consciousness in favor of moving culture, diversity, and sustainability efforts forward. In the years ahead, I hope to continue supporting initiatives that help others achieve harmony in work, life and the world around us—holding myself and others accountable for the next chapter of our global story.