Anisa is a brand builder, strategic marketer, artist advocate, and creative entrepreneur. She’s built her marketing career at iconic brands, such as: Google, where she has worked on hardware and YouTube; Time Inc. where she worked for TIME magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and Fortune magazine; and RCA Records under Sony Music Entertainment.
Today Anisa resides in New York City, where she works as a Brand Marketing Manager for YouTube Music, within Google. She is also the founder of More by Her, a creative project to support women in the arts. Her biggest passions are empowering artists & performers, celebrating culture, promoting wellness, and advocating for human rights.
1/ When did you know that you wanted to work in tech?
I decided that I wanted to work in tech when I decided to prioritize growth. After working in industries where my professional and personal growth opportunities were limited, I needed a change. In the music and media industries, I experienced low morale. There were many layoffs, much competitiveness, and nostalgia for the good ‘ole days. I craved that ‘buzz’ of optimistic energy in the office. I wanted to be challenged, to bring my innovative ideas to work with me, to be encouraged to grow. I’m grateful to say I’ve experienced all of this in tech.
2/ Who is a role model that you look up to?
My mom, Joie. She’s an artist, a painter mainly, and growing up she exposed me to almost every art form under the sun. When I was little I spent so much time making: crafting, painting, playing my violin, sewing, dancing, cooking, and designing.
She also home-schooled me and my brother on-and-off until middle school, which allowed us to travel and get exposed to the world. My love of culture, my desire to ‘make’ more than consume, and my love of all arts are largely attributed to her.
3/ Where’s your hometown?
Montclair, New Jersey; it’s near Manhattan. I grew up spending a lot of time in the city and declaring myself a New Yorker pre-maturely.
4/ What is a struggle that you’ve faced and how did you handle it?
In February of 2017, my boyfriend at the time and I relocated from Brooklyn to San Francisco for me to start work at Google. We were both away from our families, starting a new life chapter. About 6 months into our new chapter, he had a stroke. He had an extremely rare arteriovenous malformation (AVM) rupture in his brain. I became his primary caregiver for the next 6 months as he recovered his short-term memory, ability to read, write, and more.
Being a caregiver was hugely demanding, emotionally and mentally. The achiever in me wanted to excel at it all: continue to demonstrate that I was a top hire at work, while also managing the hardest job I’d ever had, caregiving. However, I’m only human. I needed a break and I quickly came to terms with it. My manager and team were very supportive and allowed me the flexibility to work from home and from the hospital a lot. I also made sure to dedicate time for restoration: meditation, long-hikes, dance classes, listening to music, and more self-care practices. I became extremely diligent about taking care of myself so I could show up for him and for work. I’m grateful to report that there was a happy ending: my boyfriend made a full recovery and I fell in love with myself!
I’ve faced a lot of struggles, and each has tested my resilience. Each has brought me to a deeper love and understanding of myself. The most important relationship in life is the one we have with ourselves. From my experience, the stronger our relationship with ourselves, the more we can show up for others in times of need.
5/ What is something that you are immensely proud of?
More by Her. I care deeply about supporting women artists and creatives. Over the years I’ve advised many creative women on how to make their art a livelihood. However, this year I’ve gotten clarity that it would be most helpful for me to ‘show’ how and not just ‘tell.’
Growing up I didn’t see many examples of women who were independent and in creative fields. The starving artist stereotype was pervasive and a big turn-off for me. I paid my way through college alone, while working. I graduated from Smith College with an Economics degree and I postponed many creative pursuits to focus on reaching financial stability.
However, I’ve been able to navigate a creative career in business. I’ve met so many amazing women who are also creative, independent, and making a livelihood. I want girls to see the options available to them by providing transparency into the lives of creatives and artists. More by Her aims to do just that. Its creative work will premier later this year. Stay tuned!
6/ What’s something that’s been on your mind a lot lately?
Intersectionality. That our many identities get a seat at the table. It’s important to More by Her, but I’ve also been thinking about it in regards to improving diversity and inclusion in tech. Supporting D&I work at Google brings me a lot of fulfillment, but also doesn’t feel optional. I have to do it! To sleep soundly, I have to! I also serve as a mentor outside of work, through organizations like Built by Girls.
7/ Favorite food?
8/ Favorite book?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It dissects ‘success’ by looking at the often unaccounted opportunities and circumstances that affect people’s achievement.
9/ If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?
I’d be a music video director for one of my favorite artists. I work in the art of storytelling, and I think music videos are an underutilized space for artists to create positive change.
10/ If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?