Marketing Leader Q&A: Catherine Frymark On Her New Role at Mattel

Photo: Catherine Frymark

As we celebrate our colleague and friend Catherine Frymark’s news heading to Mattel, Inc. as their EVP Corporate Communications, we posed questions about what she is most excited about in her new role and what motivates her personally and professionally.

What are you most excited about being Mattel’s EVP Corporate Communications? 

Few brands resonate with me so strongly and personally as Mattel, from my childhood Barbie memories to those I get to watch my five-year-old now making with his own favorite Mattel toys. I was also drawn to telling the next chapter in the story of Mattel’s transformation into an IP-driven, high-performing toy company. But most importantly, it’s because Mattel is a purpose-led company. Our purpose at Mattel is to empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. And our mission informs every step we take: which is to create innovative products and experiences that inspire, entertain, and develop children through play. What could be better than that?

You have extensive communications experience across a diverse range of media networks. What position taught you the most in your career? 

How could I not say Discovery? In my 20 years at the company, I was afforded the opportunity to work across projects I never could have dreamed of, from leading communications for the acquisition of Scripps Networks and telling the story of TLC’s meteoric rise to the #1 network in cable for women, to having the privilege to work on meaningful give-back initiatives like Say Yes to the Prom. It was the formative time in my career and I learned from some of the smartest people in the media business…in any business. I’ll always bleed Discovery blue.

If you had to choose one person who impacted your career the most and who you’d pay tribute to, who would that be? 

There are too many to name but if I’m to pay tribute to one, it would be in memory of Joe Lipper. A WWII vet and legendary PR man, he volunteered with the San Diego Chamber of Commerce in his golden years when I was just a young PR executive –in way over my head on a huge event and press conference, I might add. I credit his steady hand, clear thinking skills, and incredible humor as the reason I’m able to stay cool under pressure in stressful situations. Like so many men and women from that era, they knew what a real crisis was, and what wasn’t. He gave me perspective and tools for seeing clearly through the chaos.

What are the most important things leaders need to be thinking about as we head into 2021? 

I think the communications function has never been more valued than it is today. As difficult as the past year has been for so many reasons and for so many people, it shined a light on the value of the comms discipline, both internally and externally, for companies large and small. As we head into 2021, I think leaders are paying greater attention to employee well-being and also have a greater appreciation for their resilience and commitment in the face of adversity. I see companies across industries celebrating their teams, now more than ever.

For new marketers and communicators, what is the one piece of advice you’d give for them to think about as they progress in their careers? 

Recognize that career growth and development is not always linear…be willing to take lateral moves to gain experience in another area. I learned that from leaders at Discovery who excelled by not focusing on the fastest path to the big title. And enjoy your work and make a change if you don’t. YOLO 

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