Hotel exec checks-in at Community Website as CMO

Hotel exec checks-in at Community Website as CMO

Steve’s breakdown: Sorry for that headline. It’s still Monday in my brain . . . anyway

If you haven’t joined you should give it a try. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your community. Secondly, you probably couldn’t win the account if you’re not a member but the good news is they have a new CMO from Hyatt.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: After a year and a half away from the CMO role, the former global CMO of Hyatt Hotels is joining Nextdoor.

Maryam Banikarim, who left Hyatt in May of 2018, is joining the neighborhood-focused social network as the company’s head of marketing. In her new role, announced today, Banikarim will be tasked with leading the San Francisco-based company’s marketing efforts in the U.S. and internationally while also managing Nextdoor’s communications and policy teams.

“I think it’s a good opportunity because the thing technology enables is connectedness,” she told Forbes in an interview. “It connects networks to networks and networks to each other, but what we’re trying to do is use technology to get you to connect with people in person.”

There are some ways that Banikarim’s prior focus on community-building will be useful in her new role. As CMO of Gannett Corp.—a role that she held from 2011 until joining Hyatt—she understood how media giant’s newspapers across the country were as much of a local media business as a national one. That included thinking about local communities and how those stories rolled up into the national narrative. Then, at Hyatt, she helped create programs for solo travelers such as a program that would let people eat dinner with strangers.

“Humans are still humans and they still need to be connected,” she said. “And in person, not just virtually.”

In a statement about hiring Banikarim, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar said “Maryam is an incredible leader with a strong track record of results in building integrated teams, elevating global brands, and driving growth.”

“Her passion for local community and purpose-driven leadership makes her an ideal fit for Nextdoor,” she said. “And I’m thrilled to welcome her to the neighborhood.”

While it might not be as well-known as giant social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Nextdoor continues to grow. In September of 2019, the company closed a Series F fundraising round of $170 million from investors including Riverwood Capital, Benchmark, Tiger Global Management and Kleiner Perkins. So far, the company has raised $455.2 million, according to Crunchbase, and Nextdoor says it’s now active in 260,000 neighborhoods across 11 countries with a valuation of $2.2 billion.

During her time away from the CMO role, Banikarim stayed busy working with a number of other groups, including as board chair in the U.S. for Reporters Without Borders, a nongovernmental organization that promotes press freedom around the world. She’s also been busy living out Nextdoor’s mission close home by building community in her Manhattan neighborhood, Chelsea.

During her time off, Banikarim said it helped her gain perspective about the importance of community at home and while traveling. It also gave her a chance to connect with people from her past: she had dim sum with someone with whom she interned while attending Barnard College and met friends she knew while working as a production assistant on the movie Highlander II: The Quickening.

“We all sort of fall into the track of spending time with people at work or within our disciplines,” she said. “And one of the things I’ve always enjoyed was spending time with people with broader interests.”

After she wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about what it means to learn to find identity outside of a career, she said a number of people contacted her about their own stories, which led to connecting with strangers while traveling.

“As a culture, we’re not always good at letting people not live linear lives,” she said. “But linear lives don’t exist.”


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