20 Questions With Stephanie Bohn, BBA ’98
Stephanie Bohn, BBA ’98, has built her career on creativity, boldness, and hard work.
Bohn has created a reputation for herself over the years as a builder of highly effective teams and innovative, full-funnel campaigns. A true believer in the intersectional power of being a “generalist,” Bohn has impacted a variety of industries through her work, from financial services to entertainment and tech. Prior to her current role, she served in marketing leadership roles at a number of global brands, including American Express, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., and Netflix.
Today, she serves as the chief marketing officer of Sharebite, a technology platform that helps companies provide meal benefits to their employees. The company was founded in 2015 with a mission to combat hunger and ensure employees across the country are taking breaks, staying healthy, and connecting with their colleagues. To date, Sharebite has donated over six million meals through partnerships with Feeding America and City Harvest.
To learn more about Bohn’s background, career, and what drives her, we asked her to answer our 20 questions.
What kind of work do you do at your current job?
I was hired to build the marketing function. There are three core groups on the marketing team — product marketing, revenue marketing (aka demand generation), and brand marketing. My days are spent developing go-to-market strategies and supporting my marketing leadership to execute their respective plans. I also work closely with our CEO on the company’s public-facing narrative, thought leadership, and public relations.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
My favorite thing about being a CMO is that every day is different. I have the opportunity to help solve a wide range of challenges and collaborate with bright, interesting people across every function. There are so many aspects to the field of marketing; on a Monday I might go deep into a creative zone, developing campaign concepts or refining the brand voice. The next day, I might spend hours on Zoom with the demand gen team to troubleshoot CRM and data flow issues. Some people love being specialists in their craft, and I greatly admire that. My preference is to be a generalist because I love the variety.
Before Sharebite, you worked for multiple big entertainment companies, such as Warner Bros., Rotten Tomatoes, and Netflix. What inspired you to make the industry switch from entertainment to food and beverage services?
When I left the entertainment industry, my primary goal was to experience start-up life. After Netflix, I worked at Vidmob, a SaaS platform that provides creative analytics for digital advertisers. It was not the ad tech industry per se that drew me to VidMob, though. It was the founders and their vision.
I believed in what they were building, and I felt I could help them scale the idea. Sharebite was similarly attractive to me because of the founders. They took an enormous risk by starting a for-profit tech company with a humanitarian mission.
What is your proudest accomplishment in your career so far?
One of my proudest moments was producing an event called Creativist to celebrate women who use creativity and diversity to do bold things. We held the inaugural event in New York City in 2018 and brought it to San Francisco in 2019. The event was conceived to connect women to inspire and guide each other to “move mountains, break ceilings, and crack codes.”
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding aspect of my job is being a member of the leadership team. It is invigorating to collaborate with a diverse group of experts who challenge each other to deliver the best possible outcomes. We have radically candid conversations about the biggest opportunities and threats facing the company and collaborate on bold ideas to reinforce Sharebite’s competitive advantage.
Who inspires you?
This past year, a woman named Judy Heumann gave me much-needed motivation. Sadly, she passed away on March 4. Judy was a civil rights activist and architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She was a teacher, organizer, and author, and she served in two presidential administrations.
I had the great privilege of getting to know Judy and receiving counsel from her on a special project that involved petitioning for accessible seating at the Pauley Pavilion Arena at the University of California, Los Angeles. My 9-year-old daughter is physically disabled and she loves to attend sporting events, but seating options at Pauley Pavilion were limited. I wrote an article about the initiative, and thanks to Judy’s sage advice and encouragement, it was a success. Judy’s mantra, “make the fuss,” was (and remains) my inspiration. This experience proved to me how powerful one voice can be. It also motivates me to do more advocacy work and rally allies, because small wins lead to systemic change.
What motivates you to succeed?
Knowing that my two daughters will see that hard work pays off.
What was your dream job when you were young?
This is embarrassing to admit, but when I was growing up in the mid-’80s, I developed a fascination with cash registers and bank deposit slips. I loved playing bank and store and often imagined that my friends and family members were my customers. Working Girl and Baby Boom were my favorite films. I loved dressing up in my mother's skirt suits — oh, the shoulder pads! — and pretending that my bedroom was a corner office. I had no idea what being a business person actually meant; it just seemed so glamorous.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the person you were 10 years ago?
Develop better sleep habits. I burned the candle at both ends which wasn’t healthy. Research shows that great sleep is essential for maximum brain function, including the ability to be creative.
What’s something people don’t understand or realize about your job/work?
It may not be obvious how much time and effort a CMO spends on culture building. I’ve worked with some phenomenal chief people officers who excel at employer branding, but this type of work often falls to the CMO. It involves storytelling about core values, creating visual content to celebrate employees, applying for industry awards that will attract prospective talent, and producing special memorabilia/swag to reinforce team pride. A company is nothing without highly motivated people doing their best work, so employer branding is a very important investment.
What’s one thing you learned in business school that you’ll never forget?
I learned that challenging myself is better than perfecting myself. School is a safe place to fail and failing is a powerful way to learn. Business school gave me a chance to stretch myself, fail, and find joy in doing difficult things.
What do you miss about Michigan Ross/Ann Arbor?
Zingermans’ Charlie M. 'S Tuna sandwich.
How has your degree helped you in your career?
My degree opened doors that would have been challenging to open otherwise. Once in the door, I tapped into practical and technical skills which I could have learned on the job, but my BBA gave me a huge head start. I remember spending countless hours creating Excel models in my early days at Warner Bros. Running volume projections and P&L analyses was, surprisingly to me, a big part of the entry-level job in home entertainment marketing.
Do you have any advice for current or incoming Ross students?
Use your time at Ross to get involved in school activities, diversify your network, serve in leadership roles, and/or volunteer with a local nonprofit. Bottom line, be interesting.
What’s your favorite quote?
There is a quote I love that fuels me whenever I start to lose momentum. Versions of the quote have been attributed to a variety of scholars, but I believe Hillel the Elder was the originator. It goes something like “If not me, then who? If not now, then when?” The idea is that if I don’t step up or speak out, it is possible that no one will and the important work won’t get done.
Your favorite book?
Educated by Tara Westover.
First album/CD you ever bought?
Debbie Gibson's Out of the Blue.
Who is today’s most influential business leader?
Probably Tim Cook.
If you could have dinner with any three people, alive or dead, who would they be?
Jennifer Doudna, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Amy Schumer. All are alive, so if you are reading this and can make it happen, let’s chat. :-)
What kind of businesses does the world need more of?
The world needs more companies that practice universal design, making products and services that all consumers can use. Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., and L’Oréal are shining examples of brands that embrace accessibility.