Marta Nicolas, CEO Americas, & Co-Founder of SAMY Alliance is a leader with a unique perspective on success. She reflects on the enigmatic nature of this concept, akin to the intricacies of beauty.
“Success, like beauty, is one of the most subjective things in this world,” she muses, “To me, success is about building a network with individuals you trust, who provide safety and share your goals and values. Not necessarily your same opinions of course; there is richness in diversity and heterogeneity. But knowing you’re in the same boat as those around you. In your personal life that’s easier to achieve. But professionally, that’s a privilege. With SAMY, we’re building that.”
Reflecting on her dreams and aspirations during her formative years, Marta’s passion for storytelling and creation has remained constant. Her lifelong aspiration has been to construct something tangible, something that leaves a visible and touchable impact on people’s lives.
Having lived in eight different cities by the age of 20, Marta’s innate wanderlust was fueled by her dream of “seeing the world.” Therefore, co-running a company with offices in 15 countries, which provides a compelling reason to traverse the globe, is nothing short of a dream come true for her.
From Santander to the World
Marta delves into her life before the inception of SAMY Alliance, unveiling a captivating narrative that paved the way for her remarkable journey. “I was born in Santander, a quaint city in the North of Spain,” she explains. “Twenty years later, I found myself graduating with a degree in International Business and a major in Finance from Northeastern University in Boston. It was a courageous move, leaving my family behind, some 5000 miles away, at the tender age of 17.”
During her college years, Marta secured an internship with Lehman Brothers in New York City, a chapter she fondly remembers as living out her own cinematic tale. “I can still vividly recall walking through the doors of their Times Square office building every morning, feeling like I was a character in my own movie,” she reminisces.
Following her stint at Lehman Brothers, Marta spent four influential years at L’Oreal, a leading name in the world of marketing consumer goods. She describes her time at the company as akin to completing a “Master’s degree in marketing,” emphasizing the dynamic and demanding nature of the organization. It was during her tenure at L’Oreal that she found the intersection of her passion and her talent, setting the stage for her remarkable journey that would later culminate in the creation of SAMY Alliance.
As Marta reflects on her life before SAMY Alliance, her path emerges as a testament to courage, determination, and the pursuit of her true calling in the world of marketing and business. For her, the ultimate satisfaction lies in aiding clients in their journey to success.
Pioneering and Evolving in the Journey with SAMY Alliance
As the driving force behind SAMY Alliance together with Juan Sanchez and Patricia Ratia, co-founders of the company , Marta shares the intriguing story of the company and its transformative journey. “We started in 2013,” she recalls, “with SamyRoad pioneering the Advocacy Marketing industry, leveraging our best-in-class tech team and our own proprietary AI to aggregate millions of global accounts and execute campaigns worldwide. This laid the foundation for our rapid expansion, establishing us as a prominent figure in the realm of influencer marketing.”
In 2020, SamyRoad decided to take a fresh approach. Marta explains, “We introduced the SAMY Alliance, a concept that empowers us to provide a holistic solution to our clients’ multifaceted challenges—ranging from intellect, relevance, confidence, consistency, agility, to purpose. It also enables us to address each of these needs with specialized agencies within the alliance, such as Influencer Marketing via SamyRoad, Intelligence via Capture Intelligence, and Social Engagement and Relevance via Share Creative and Nobox, among others.”
Marta’s leadership and SAMY Alliance’s exceptional growth have garnered remarkable recognition. “We’ve earned a spot on the Financial Times’ list of the 1000 fastest-growing companies in Europe for four consecutive years,” Marta proudly states. “We’ve secured a place in Adweek’s Fastest Growing Agency list, ranking among the top 10 large agencies. Our year-on-year growth has been consistent, solidifying our position as a leading global player in our sector.”
Fostering Innovation and Collaboration as a Leader
Reflecting on her journey as a female leader in this dynamic field, Marta shares a valuable insight. She harks back to SAMY’s motto from over a decade ago, “HUNDREDS OF ROADS ARE AT YOUR FEET,” emphasizing that the challenges of yesterday have become the lessons of today. “What may appear overwhelming today,” she emphasizes, “will, in time, become a memory and a valuable learning experience. It’s more about the journey than the destination. Once you internalize this perspective, everything changes.”
As a founder, Marta’s fervor for her work is unmistakable. She strives to imbue every member of the organization with the same passion, fostering an environment where leaders lead by example. She champions the idea of viewing clients as partners and sees problem-solving as an endless journey of learning and experimentation.
Her belief in the influence of the many, as opposed to the leadership of a select few, has been instrumental in the SAMY Alliance’s decade-long journey of effective and sustainable growth. In ten years, it has transformed from a humble beginning of one employee and a single office to a global presence with 400 employees across 15 offices.
In her role as the CEO Americas, and Co-Founder at SAMY Alliance, Marta’s responsibilities are diverse and pivotal. She shares her insights into her major roles and the dynamic environment she navigates. “I am dedicated to fostering an environment that encourages creativity, innovation, and collaboration,” Marta says.
Her leadership encompasses the development and execution of brand and growth strategies, whether through organic growth or mergers and acquisitions. In addition, she actively nurtures strong relationships with clients, partners, and stakeholders. The multifaceted and fast-paced nature of SAMY Alliance ensures that Marta is continually engaged in tackling the ever-evolving challenges and opportunities that come with leading a global marketing and communications powerhouse.
Marta emphasizes the significant People and Culture aspect of her role, given the diverse, multidisciplinary team spread across 15 countries. “Working with a team that boasts varied backgrounds and cultures is immensely enriching,” she notes. The vibrant talent within SAMY Alliance serves as a perpetual source of learning and inspiration for her.
When it comes to keeping her team motivated, Marta acknowledges the dynamic work environment as a contributing factor. However, she highlights the role of the Culture Committee as her “compass” in this regard. “We tie these goals to actual actions and initiatives,” Marta adds, underscoring the company’s proactive approach. She notes that the team’s feedback is actively sought, and their commitment to cultivating a positive workplace culture has yielded significant results.
Earlier this year, SAMY Alliance was honored with the Happy Index at Work 2023 certification in all the countries where they operate, a testament to the value placed on their efforts to create an engaging and satisfying work environment. Marta’s leadership is not only about overseeing operations but also about championing a culture of fulfillment and excellence within the organization.
A Path of Resilience: Conquering Setbacks and Building Success
Marta reflects on the journey of SAMY Alliance, acknowledging that setbacks are an intrinsic part of every profession and business. She candidly shares some of the roadblocks and valuable lessons learned that have fueled their growth over the years. “We’ve encountered our fair share of challenges,” Marta observes, “ranging from geopolitical hurdles to financial setbacks, and even the unprecedented disruption caused by a global pandemic.”
These adversities have been instrumental in reinforcing the significance of qualities like resiliency, adaptability, and dynamism. Marta underscores that these qualities are not just vital for success within the entrepreneurial realm but are equally essential for the clients they serve. This philosophy is ingrained at every level of the organization.
Marta and her team actively promote these attributes, working diligently to instill them throughout the company. She passionately expresses her commitment to transmitting the same passion that fueled their inception a decade ago to every facet of the organization.
This journey has not only been about conquering obstacles but also about creating a culture of resilience and adaptability that extends to their clients, ensuring their collective success. The setbacks they’ve encountered have not deterred them but have instead become stepping stones on their path to growth and accomplishment.
An Impactful Leadership Journey Fostering Excellence and Empowering Women
Marta, a driving force in the marketing and communications industry, reflects on her remarkable contribution and her journey as a woman in leadership. “Throughout my career in the marketing and communications industry,” Marta shares, “my focus has been on fostering innovation and excellence in marketing and communications solutions.” Her dedication has played a pivotal role in expanding the company’s reach and nurturing robust relationships with some of the world’s most prominent global brands.
One of Marta’s significant accomplishments lies in creating an environment within their diverse and youthful organization that champions creativity, collaboration, and the empowerment of individuals from a wide array of backgrounds. “Every day,” Marta emphasizes, “my goal is to lead by example, showcasing that with unwavering perseverance, a commitment to excellence, and unyielding drive, it is entirely possible to make a substantial impact in the industry.”
In her role as a woman in leadership, Marta takes her responsibility seriously. She proudly states, “Samy is 63 percent female.” Her passion for her work is palpable, and she views it as her duty to share this passion with the women within the organization. Marta is deeply committed to nurturing a supportive and inclusive environment that empowers women to embrace leadership roles and pursue their ambitions with unwavering determination.
She strives to inspire her teams to shatter barriers, motivating them to wholeheartedly believe in their capabilities and potential. Marta’s journey is not just about personal success; it’s about paving the way for the next generation of women leaders, ensuring they follow their ambitions fearlessly, just as she has.
A Recipe for Balance: Juggling Passion and Grounding
Marta, known for her boundless energy and enthusiasm, shares her approach to maintaining a delicate equilibrium between her personal and professional life. She takes us through a typical day in her life and the motivations that fuel her boundless energy.
Marta’s adventurous spirit and insatiable curiosity are central to her identity. “I was born VERY active,” she chuckles, recalling her birth in a hotel lobby. “I’ll probably die VERY active, too,” she adds with a laugh. Her nature leads her to pursue countless interests simultaneously, a trait she fondly refers to as “being passionately curious.” This curiosity extends to her work, where she perpetually embraces new challenges, but it also seeps into her approach to life in general. The sheer multitude of pursuits can sometimes become overwhelming, and this is where her practices of headspace and grounding come into play.
Marta finds solace and balance in the smaller things in life. “I find these in the little things: my family, my dog, nature, meditation,” she explains. These elements act as anchors in her whirlwind of activities, providing her with the equilibrium necessary to maintain her passionate curiosity.
Residing in New York but heavily involved in European business, Marta’s days typically kick off early. She navigates a packed daily schedule brimming with meetings and calls. However, she makes a conscious effort to wrap up work in time to spend quality moments with her loved ones and engage in her evening workout routine.
Marta places great importance on indulging in activities that she loves and that inspire her. “Traveling, attending live shows, or spending time outdoors,” she enthuses, “because inspiration can be found in the most unexpected places.” Her life is a vibrant tapestry of diverse interests and experiences, balanced by the grounding forces that keep her centered and motivated.
A Future Vision of Integration, Talent, and Innovation
Marta provides insight into the future roadmap of SAMY Alliance, marked by transformation and innovation. She delves into the recent developments and their strategic direction. “This past summer,” Marta says, “we proudly announced a significant milestone for SAMY Alliance. Bridgepoint, one of the world’s foremost private equity firms, made a strategic investment in our company. This alliance is set to propel us forward, accelerating our strategic plan and reinforcing our position as a global leader in the digital marketing sector.”
Looking ahead, Marta envisions SAMY’s evolution from being merely an agency to becoming a knowledge and innovation hub. “We are dedicated to capturing entrepreneurial talent,” she emphasizes, “through both company acquisitions and hiring.” Innovation is the core of their identity, and their ability to adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape and consumer preferences drives their future.
As for her personal goals in the coming years, Marta is resolute in her commitment to self-motivation. She applies this principle to both her professional and personal life, continually setting new goals and embracing fresh challenges. She passionately states, “For me, the comfort zone is dangerous, and life is too short and too precious to remain confined to that safe spot.”
To aspiring women leaders, Marta’s message is clear and resounding: “Go for it. Just do it.” She encourages them to step forward, take risks, and pursue their ambitions. Her parting words resonate with the same determination that defines her own journey: “Hundreds of roads are—and will always be—at your feet.”
Marta’s vision for SAMY Alliance and her personal aspirations are intertwined with an unwavering commitment to innovation and empowerment. In her journey through the dynamic world of marketing and communications, she has not only steered SAMY Alliance toward new horizons but also set a remarkable example of leadership, innovation, and empowerment.
With a forward-looking vision and an unwavering commitment to driving excellence, Marta’s story serves as an inspiring testament to the boundless possibilities that lie ahead for women leaders in the ever-evolving landscape of business and beyond. As she continues to propel her company toward even greater heights, her message resounds: embrace challenges, seek new roads, and let your curiosity and passion lead the way.