Victoria Cruz is a senior manager, global business development & digital strategy at Sony Music Entertainment, having joined in February 2015 in analytics and reporting, before moving into digital business and digital strategy two years later. She studied for her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of British Columbia before completing a master’s degree in Business at HEC Paris and then studying data enterprise analytics at the University of Toronto. Victoria is passionate about social justice having worked on numerous projects both in and outside work.
“…diverse and inclusive culture should also take the stage with talent acquisition and recruitment. Words matter…”
From Vancouver to Toronto, and then London
I started my career in advertising, first in media buying and planning in Vancouver, followed by digital strategy in Toronto. I then moved into broadcasting, as an analyst at CBC/Radio-Canada, Canada’s public broadcaster, where I worked on large initiatives including the Sochi 2014 Olympics and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
I landed in the music industry in 2015, working as the research, reporting and analytics manager for Sony Music Canada. However, after two years at Sony Music, I yearned for a change. I had been an analyst for most of my career, and was curious what it’d be like to be a decision-maker. I also wanted a more global view of the industry, and wanted a bit of adventure. So as luck would have it, I came across the global business development & digital strategy role at Sony Music in London … and here we are.
The Global Digital Business team is responsible for assessing and building the commercial partnerships that drive the company’s digital initiatives and opportunities for its artists. It is an exciting team in an era where digital trends and platforms immensely affect and shift consumer behaviour.
Specifically, my team oversees licensing activities across multiple digital service providers around the world, while also providing support to our local teams in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia-Pacific. We collaborate across multiple stakeholders and territories including start-ups that need guidance through mentorship programmes and ongoing discussions.
Adapting to COVID-19
As it has for many other office workers, COVID-19 has shifted all of our workplaces from the office to home and meetings now take place via video call or telephone. It is strange to think that we have not had an in-person meeting with each other since March 2020, but overall the transition was smooth.
Our company has adapted quickly and developed opportunities for our artists around live-streamed shows, digital fitness platforms, and music-tech start-ups, all of which require music licensing partnerships which our teams oversee.
How being a woman of colour has influenced my career journey
I am a first-generation Filipino-Canadian, born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. My parents moved to Canada to start a new life in a country where their children had better opportunities than before – which meant exposing me to sports, hobbies, and communities that were much different from what they are familiar with. I am thankful for that, as I grew up accustomed to being welcomed into new and different circumstances and it was in turn, ingrained in me to be welcoming.
Looking at my career, most of the organisations I have worked for sought to be inclusive, and I’ve prioritised working for companies that prioritise an inclusive culture, like Sony Music. Being open and accepting is a core value of mine, and this is something I intrinsically seek professionally.
Advice for organisations seeking to become more inclusive and welcoming to diverse talent
From my perspective, giving employees the space and time to volunteer and support causes and organisations close to their heart that promote inclusivity and diversity is key to welcoming diverse talent. A great example is Sony Music’s $100 million fund to support social justice and anti-racist initiatives around the world, which launched last year.
The fund has already resulted in some great initiatives, like 3T, which launched at the end of last year to provide Black women in the UK with knowledge and skills to join the live industry – so that when it returns it comes back better than before.
Another is our Positive Influence mentoring programme, run in partnership with the Creative Mentor Network, which allows employees to mentor young people from diverse backgrounds on their skills development. In addition, we regularly have match donation programmes in the business running throughout the year.
Empowering employees with the ability to give back should also be framed within a company culture where people from a variety of backgrounds feel welcome, heard, and respected. For example, at Sony Music we have a number of Employee Resource Groups, like HUE, that aims to promote the diversity of people of colour, and WhatIf Freedom that provides a mentoring and awareness-raising forum for LGBT+ employees and allies.
We also regularly run events and surveys of employees to facilitate conversations within the organisation on topics like representation and gender equality – with the goal to listen to employee feedback and act on it.
Lastly, this diverse and inclusive culture should also take the stage with talent acquisition and recruitment. Words matter. As such, on job descriptions, we are always mindful of how jobs are framed and the tone of posts, as well as ensuring there is detail on how the company drives diversity and inclusion in the business.
Advice to other women of colour looking to advance in their own careers
My career trajectory has been a real story of opportunity. I have pivoted from advertising to broadcasting, and then onto music where I have found my happy place.
My key piece of advice is that, once you know what you want to learn and achieve, whether it be for your entire career or just your next step, be willing to step out of your comfort zone – that is where growth is achieved and resilience is built. Be curious and be clear that you are looking to learn, and ask for support when you need it. However, it is also important to know your boundaries and be honest with yourself and others.
Lastly, seek out mentors. Join a women’s network, or an industry network, and reach out to those you think you would like to learn from, men or women. More often than not, people are willing to share their experiences.
Carving out my own space in the music industry
I am looking forward to continuing to grow in my role and carve out my space within the music industry, to build upon new and existing partnerships, and to meet with and mentor start-up companies. A lot changes in a year, regardless of COVID, and I am looking forward to seeing how my team and I grow and develop.
Aside from work, I have acquired a few of the obvious lockdown pastimes that I am excited to keep pursuing, like running, biking and balcony gardening. I have also started a few personal creative projects to keep me inspired. More than anything though, I am really looking forward to all of us getting that vaccine so we can safely gather (dare I say hug) when we see each other face to face again.