Women in Leadership: Heather Roymans, Partner & Director at AlterEgo Creates

Heather Roymans

Photo: Heather Roymans

Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women. 

This month we are proud to feature Heather Roymans, Partner & Director at AlterEgo Creates.

What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership?

Let people fail.
Be curious.
Be infinite minded.
Be water, my friend.

Listening shows that I care and understand my job as a problem solver and leader. Because I cannot possibly come up with a winning solution until I understand the real problem.

Letting people fail (or “hands on learning”) is crucial to growth. My favorite anecdote is from “How To Win Friends and Influence People” and it goes like this: A famous test pilot was returning to his home in LA when at 300 feet, both engines suddenly stopped. He managed to land the plane but it was badly damaged. After landing, he inspected the WWII prop plane and saw that it had been fueled with jet fuel instead of gasoline. When he confronted the young mechanic who had serviced the plane he did not scold or criticize him but rather said, “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.” That is how you teach people to learn.

Being curious is at the core of who I am and why I am where I am. When I am tasked to work on a subject I know nothing about or with a person with whom I don’t share common interests, I don’t have to fake interest or change who I am. Instead, I am curious about this new thing or this person’s passion- how did they become this way? What is it about this thing that makes you love it so much? Being curious has driven my career and enabled me to have access to all kinds of people I may have otherwise never seen.

As an “infinite minded” leader, I accept that what I’m contributing to is something I may never see realized. I see the importance in embracing surprise (hello 2020… 2021… ) and finding the opportunity in it over sliding into the fear of the unknown. I used to be a finite minded leader playing what I perceived to be a finite game. I threw around sports metaphors that meant nothing to me or my craft and I encouraged internal competition. I wanted to WIN. But as Simon so brilliantly asks, “win what?” I have since transitioned into playing the infinite game with an infinite mindset because I love the act of playing the game. Play. Never stop using your imagination and never stop playing.

And lastly, my north star has always been, “Be water, my friend.” So much so that I had it tattooed on my body a few years back. I never allow myself to be trapped in any certain mindset. Instead, I trust that I am able to adapt to certain situations, grow, and change like water.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I chose this one because it was the hardest question for me to answer because I am one of those lucky people that doesn’t really separate “work” from “life.” And this does not mean that I am a workaholic or don’t see the need for the clear separation that some people do. When I do things “outside of work” I constantly think of how they can help tell the stories I tell “at work.” I love creating floral arrangements because I love color and that inspires my color palettes. I love running and hiking out West and being alone outside because it gives me the time to process thoughts and re-assess upcoming priorities. I love films and watching them with my kids so we can talk about film making together. And my truest passion is writing which is a big part of my life and what I have chosen to do with my life.

What’s your advice to young females beginning their career?

I am going to steal this from Angela Duckworth cause I love it so much. Life is more about consistency than intensity and if you show up and put in the work towards something you are passionate about, time after time, even when it’s hard, you will both see results and feel proud of your well earned achievements. This is GRIT. This is power. Showing up everyday shows that you’re reliable at your craft. Because in the words of every coach ever, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”

What are some of the challenges women continue to face in their careers?

I will speak from experience here and this may only apply to my field, but the biggest challenge I face is hearing from other women that they want to support women owned businesses, or female directors, or companies that hire women into their C-suite… but actually don’t. Because there aren’t many women “at the top,” like other minority groups experience as well, we’re always kind of viewed as a riskier option. And if we aren’t given the chance to prove ourselves we continue to grow even riskier over time because we lack the experience or resume required to prove otherwise. This cycle has sadly impeded the career growth and blossoming of so many women and that is why I’m proud to have always had a majority women business where women have held top positions like President, VP/ Head of Production, Executive Producer, Sr. Editor, and Associate Creative Director.