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Maryam  Banikarim

Maryam Banikarim

Head of Marketing, Nextdoor & Former Global CMO Hyatt, Gannett, NBC Universal & Univision


A purpose-driven CMO who led four major businesses through sweeping transformation and topline growth, Maryam Banikarim captured national attention with her viral  New York Timesessay on taking a "pause" at the height of her highly successful career. Now back leading marketing at Nextdoor, she is an in-demand motivational and business speaker and acknowledged thought leader on making purpose the heart of a company’s brand. Maryam earns standing ovations for her keynotes on leadership, embracing diversity and inclusion, creating brand loyalty, building future forward teams and driving change, innovation, growth and results. As a seasoned builder of businesses, teams and brands, she brings both an incredible range of experience and an inspiring career and life journey to the speaking stage.  Read More >

Maryam currently heads marketing at Nextdoor, the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services across the U.S., Canada and Europe.  Previously, as Global CMO of Hyatt, Gannett, NBC Universal and Univision, Maryam earned a reputation as a bold leader who took on disruption and championed purpose. In each role, she innovatively applied a wide array of marketing tools to move her organization forward, creating value while inspiring employees, customers and a range of stakeholders. Maryam helped transform Hyatt into the most preferred hospitality brand, driving loyalty and community among high-end travelers with a portfolio of thirteen global brand experiences. She elevated the organization by mobilizing colleagues, launching brands and businesses, reimagining loyalty, and establishing unprecedented partnerships. Prior to Hyatt, she was Gannett’s first-ever CMO. She is credited with repositioning the company and its brands (including USA Today), uncovering and executing its core purpose, reinvigorating employee morale, and establishing a national sales organization, all of which resulted in topline growth. In a few short years, she and the management team saw the stock price go from $13 a share to over $30. Maryam was also Senior Vice President at NBCUniversal and Chief Marketing officer for Univision Communications, Inc. Her unique can-do attitude was also essential to successfully unifying and transforming both Univision and NBC Universal during periods of rapid transformation. Before that, she founded a strategy firm, consulting for such clients as Deutsche Bank, Bacardi and Time-Warner. Maryam has thrived in a variety of organizations, from large scale corporate to early stage start-up. These include Turner Broadcasting, MacMillan Publishing, Young and Rubicam and CitySearch, a pioneering early internet start-up. Her unorthodox career path also included stints as an investment banker, handbag designer, production assistant and intern in the British Parliament.

Maryam currently serves as Advisor to Brand50; Samsung Retail Advisory Board Member; Chair, Reporters without Borders; Executive Advisor, Cove Hill Partners and Executive in Residence at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Maryam is also the co-founder of NYCNext. NYCNext's mission is to support our artistic community, to help NYC recover, rebuild and become a more equitable place for all and to energize others by creating spontaneous moments of joy in all five boroughs. 

A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Business School, Maryam has been widely recognized for her achievements. These include The New York Posts"50 Most Powerful Women in NYC,"Fast Companys "Top 10 Disrupters," and  Advertising Ages "Women to Watch." She is a recipient of the Columbia Alumni medal, the highest honor given by the Columbia Alumni Association and an Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which celebrates the important contributions of immigrants. Maryam’s writing has appeared in the New York Times,Fortune,Fast Company, Ad Age,The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast. She is also known as a perceptive and insightful interviewer, leading conversations with business thought leaders such as Lisa Gersh (Goop), Bob Pittman (iHeart Media), and Emilio Estefan (multi-cultural marketing).

Known for highly creative presentations that engage, inform and entertain, Maryam is an inspiring catalyst on the speaking stage. Bringing contagious creativity, bondless knowledge and unwavering optimism about our abilities to achieve any goal, she motivates organizations seeking change and gives them the confidence and tools to take action.  Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Interview with Forbes

Columbia Business School Graduation 2021 Distinguished Speaker Remarks

Chaos & Curiosity

Make a Difference Day With Maryam Banikarim

You Have to Care About the Customer Experience

Communities Built on Connections

Speech Topics

Choices & Chapters: Stop "Leaning In." "Lean Out" & Start Living

As Michele Obama famously said, "It’s not always enough to lean in, because that sh*t doesn’t work." When Maryam Banikarim echoed that sentiment in her viral New York Times opinion piece, she validated the powerful sense of disillusionment felt by many women (and men) who bought into the myth of "having it all." In this endearing, funny, inspiring and uplifting keynote, Maryam shares her decision to walk away from the C-Suite at the height of her groundbreaking career. "Leaning in to a linear, pre-fabricated career trajectory isn’t working," she says. "It never really has. Encouraging women to lean in to their professional lives relentlessly, while also aspiring to have rich personal and family lives, is a setup. Balance is an illusion. It’s a setup that serves only to make you feel badly when you realize you can’t 'have it all.' In my mind, life is about choices and chapters. In some chapters, you double down on work; in others, you step away. This ends up being something you negotiate with other parts of your life." Maryam shares her journey of "leaning out" of her professional comfort zone to reset, refresh and become a stronger leader, innovator and businesswoman in the process.

Becoming a Purpose-Driven Leader & Champion

It’s not about what you make. It’s what your organization stands for and how leadership infuses that belief into everything you do. Purpose-driven organizations define the deeper reasons for their organization’s existence to inspire stronger commitment from their employees and higher levels of loyalty and engagement from their customers. They also achieve extraordinary business results, outperforming the general market by 15:1. In this transformational presentation, Maryam Banikarim shows you how to lead with purpose and turn everyone in your organization into a champion. Sharing case studies from Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, Gannett and others, she provides actionable steps for building an organization through the lens of purpose, leading it to outperform your competition. This energizing and inspiring presentation provides audiences with an invaluable purpose-driven playbook that can be applied to any brand in any industry.

Building a Diverse Organization: It’s Just Good Business

Time and time again, research shows that companies with more diverse teams, offices and boards are more productive, more innovative, attract top talent and drive higher revenues and earnings. And it’s not just about race, gender, gender identification or generation. It’s also about cultural diversity and diversity of experience — at both a national and international level. Maryam takes a broad spectrum look at diversity through the lens of everyday culture, brand, employee satisfaction, connecting with customers, and most of all, the bottom line. Equal parts stats, infographics, humorous social media posts and inspiring reflections from business leaders, this dynamic presentation engages, informs and provides actionable ways to champion diversity and inclusion in any organization.

Creating Irrational Brand Loyalty

Apple. Mini Cooper. Starbucks. Harley Davidson. Dove. These are the brands that consumers covet. They have reached the pinnacle of branding by achieving the "irrational loyalty”" of their customers, which Maryam describes as "consumer behavior that is decidedly crazy." How did they foster a love, passion and preference for their brands that defies mere logic? Which strategies and practices can any organization put in place? Marketing maven Maryam Banikarim explains how truly great brands create experiences that foster strong relationships — and drive results.

"Carpe Tomorrow": The Seven Secrets to Building a Team & Organization That Will Take You There

Back in ‘90s New York, when Mark Zuckerberg was still in middle school and having an email address meant that you were a dork, a group of pioneering tech entrepreneurs in "Silicon Alley" were busy changing the world. Maryam Banikarim was part of this group, launching the first generation of web-based media companies. It was there she learned what it takes to chart a course to the future — and build the team and culture to take you there. In this inspiring presentation, she shares the seven secrets to success in an ever-changing business world — from embracing risk to never leaving the learning curve. Filled with wisdom from the entrepreneurs and thought leaders she admires, Banikarim provides a blueprint for innovation and transformation that will have you seizing the day, your potential, and the future.

Go For It: Pursuing Your Passion

Maryam Banikarim’s unorthodox career path includes roles as an investment banker, production assistant, British Parliament intern, book publisher, handbag designer, advertising executive and internet pioneer. In this fascinating keynote, she takes women’s groups, college students — and anyone interested in pursuing their passions — on a whirlwind tour of her unusually adventurous career. Then, she outlines an instruction manual on how to create one for yourself! Maryam Banikarim throws herself headfirst into everything that she does and lets the rest take care of itself. Here’s what she’s learned: life rarely works out exactly as planned — but when each unexpected turn is met with an unyielding "all-in" commitment — you’ll be amazed how often it works out for the best!