Crystal Barnes, formerly Director of Industry Relations, was named Vice President of Industry Relations for Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights, effective immediately. In her role, Barnes is responsible for expanding the reach of Nielsen’s thought leadership efforts across the media and consumer industries, focusing on the increasingly diverse and connected consumer.
Barnes began at Nielsen in 2004 as part of the company’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). As an Emerging Leader Associate, she was exposed to various industries and expertise across the company. Upon completion of the program, Barnes worked in public affairs and was instrumental in the expansion of Nielsen’s multicultural outreach efforts, strengthening the company’s communications and public affairs program. Since her appointment to the industry relations position, she has developed and managed strategic alliances with industry
and business associations within the global business community. Barnes applies significant strategic and tactical skills to expand and transform the company’s position in the industry, both with traditional and new associations in the digital space.
Prior to joining Nielsen, Barnes held production and communications positions at WHP, a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, Penn. and Comcast SportsNet in Bethesda, MD. A native of Pennsylvania, she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Broadcast Telecommunications and Mass Media from Temple University.
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit http://www.nielsen.com.
BS: What was your career focus in undergraduate school? Has that changed from the focus in which your career is geared to now?
Crystal Barnes: I received my Bachelor’s degree at Temple University (Philadelphia PA) with a major in Broadcast Telecommunications and Mass Media and a minor in Business. Business provided the tool kit necessary to survive in Corporate America however; broadcasting lifted me out of the classroom and in to the community. In my mind I was well on my way to being the next Robin Roberts, during her ESPN Sportscenter days. Sports are, and still is, my “thing” and the idea of communicating about it for a living was a no brainer. Fast forward to 2012 there are key elements in my previous and current role at Nielsen that align with my career focus. In my current position I am responsible for expanding the reach of Nielsen’s thought leadership efforts, across the media and consumer landscape, working with industry and business associations within the global business community. At its core, the idea of building and maintaining relationships, storytelling to help the audience understand the message and creating a communications platform for that message to be received are all skills that I retained and apply daily.
BS: Was it difficult to break through the position you now hold? How would you advise others who want to move up and they are battling with a lack of diversity within their industry? How can their work ethics and capabilities receive recognition?
Crystal Barnes: I joined Nielsen as part of our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). The program focuses on developing diverse talent and leadership throughout the company by exposing participants to various industries and expertise. As I see it, behind every challenge is an opportunity. In many cases, and in many industries, that challenge is a lack of diverse representation. The opportunity however is to set a precedent, through your work ethic, of the benefit and enhancement that diversity brings to every business. Being proactive with your career plan, engaging mentors and getting involved with company initiatives help to define your position as a leader and investor in the success of the company.
BS: We commend you on your efforts to encourage diversity. When did you realize there was a need? How did you plan your approach to effectively encourage diversity?
Crystal Barnes: It really wasn’t about when it was more about how. As a company our research and insights focus on the increasingly diverse, demanding and connected consumer. By the pure nature of what we do it is important for us to make sure that we reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. It is a work in progress and through our various programs it is imperative that I participate in that movement.
BS: What other projects and/or initiatives are you a part of?
Crystal Barnes: Nielsen has three national independent advisory groups, consisting of external industry, academia and community influences that help inform and enhance the Company’s efforts to recruit measure and accurately report diverse communities. I am a founding member of the African American Advisory Council and work closely with them to help reinforce and drive diversity efforts across our company. Internally, I work with our Employee Resources Groups which are voluntary, employee driven teams that are organized around a shared interest, and I lead our recruitment efforts at New York University (NYU). Outside of Nielsen, I sit on the NYC Museum for African Art ELA Board and am involved with Student Sponsor Partners. Working with these groups in various capacities helps me to apply diverse perspectives to my work and ultimately to my life. In my spare time I am a full-time wife and mother!
BS: Are there any motto’s you live by? Why?
Crystal Barnes: Yes, God will never put more on you than you can bear (paraphrased): 1 Corinthians 10:13. It’s just so true! In a time when uncertainty and ambiguity are part of most of our lives it’s important to believe in the idea that from change come great things and from trust comes the courage to break through and receive your blessings.