Archive for the ‘mymktg’ tag

MKTGNYC: Women In Leadership Workshop

with one comment

Eva McCarthy, Christina Bueno, Jessalin Lam, Phoebe Kurtzman, Sha’Ron Martin, Natasha Campoli Neris, Alyssa Wood, Shannon DeLade, Alyssa Billups, Kristin Laux, Alyssa Ferreri

 

 

On Thursday, September 14, as part of our Learning and Development initiative, coaches from GoldJam Creative visited the MKTG NYC office to lead a Women in Leadership Workshop. The interactive workshop was open to any women in the MKTG organization and designed to help empower women in their professional environment through confidence building and communication skills exercises, and also to discuss challenges that women in leadership face, how to overcome them and how to be a better overall leader. One highlight was when we discussed how to learn to stop saying “Sorry”! We do apologize way too much. For example, this morning,  when I was bumped in to on the subway, I apologized without even thinking about it!?

 

In any case, it was a lot of fun and very engaging and interactive. Instead of just sitting and talking, we actually got a chance to get up and move around, as well as work together to find better ways to communicate and dominate through body language and verbal communication. MKTGirls RULE!

Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

September 15th, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Vince Gangi and Skate for Steven

with one comment

When we heard that MKTGer Vince Gangi had pulled together a fundraiser for a local teen recently diagnosed with cancer, we needed to know more. Vince gave us the details about his Skate for Steven event last month and all of the awesome partners who helped him make the day a success.

Steven is my neighbor and always comes over to play with my boys. You would often see him skating in the streets with his brother. He’s the sweetest boy you’ll ever meet, polite, caring, respectful, the whole nine! Actually, the first thing he did after surgery was thank the doctors for making him better.  What 13-year-old does that?

When I heard the news that he had a brain tumor my heart dropped. My father passed away from cancer and that was hard to see, but seeing an innocent child go through this is unbearable. Right away I knew I had to do something for him and his family. I got the impression that his family were just getting by and trying to make ends meet so I wanted to raise money for them. I also wanted to do something that would be fun for kids and also have all his friends involved. My wheels were turning and I quickly came up with the idea of roller skating… the name “Skate for Steven” was created.

Coming from a large Italian family, we were always hosting parties, but this was my first public fundraiser event. Once I had the venue set I started advertising heavily on social media, on local sites and with home-made flyers. Then I started thinking about how to raise additional funds. I ordered “Skate for Steven” bracelets that were sold at the school Steven attended, a local pastry shop donated all the desserts for our bake sale and MKTG donated candy for our candy sale as well as signage items for our raffle. A variety of local businesses also donated gift certificates for our raffle and plenty of food and beverages for the guests. On the day of the event, dozens of family and friends came out to show their support. Even the Greenwich Press heard the news and came to cover the story for their paper. The event was definitely a success!

Read more about the Skate for Steven event at The Greenwich Free Press.

Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

June 8th, 2017 at 10:09 am

A Day In The Life : Drew Ocon

with one comment

 

For this month’s edition of MKTG’s A Day in the Life, I had the pleasure of getting to know MKTG San Francisco’s Drew Ocon. You can call him Ocon, pronounced OH-conn. He works primarily on our B2B business for clients including Facebook, Shopify and Stripe. He’s a two-time MKTGer, having first worked for the company for about a year nearly six years ago. He then took a bit of a break and re-joined the family 18 months ago.

While he’s best known for his handlebar mustache, there is so much more to know about him. So much so, that it wasn’t until the end of our 40-minute conversation to learn that he started and sold a company that, at one time, was the 7th highest-funded Kickstarter campaign, AND was featured on Shark Tank! Hope you enjoy this interview as much as I had conducting it.

-Your friendly reporter, MK

What time do you wake up on a typically workday?

So, unfortunately, I can’t separate my weekend and weekday wake-up time. I’m not a big “sleeper inner.” So, no matter whether my alarm goes off or not, even on a weekend when I’m just doing my own thing, I always happen to wake up at 6:18. It’s kind of a random thing, but it’s when my alarm is set on the weekdays, and my body just continues to wake up at that time.

 

Oof! I can totally relate except my time is even a little earlier, which is rough. But I get that.

Yeah and I’m not somebody who hits the snooze-button, so if I ever wake up any earlier I just figure I’m ahead of schedule.

 

That’s a great way to look it! So, after 6:18, what do you do next? Do you have a morning ritual?

Not really. I just jump out of bed and I’m like “Okay, I have to start the day so I’m not going to hit the snooze button.” Then I just go directly to the shower to wake myself up. Majority of the time I am a cold shower taker so I can just jump into the day.

 

Now, that’s one way to jump-start the day! So what would you say you couldn’t get your day started without?

Well, see I have a very unique look. What I’m known for look-wise is my mustache. It’s something I’ve had for years and years. So it takes me a long time do my hair, like my face hair. Ya know, I have to get all groomed. I have it down to a science where it takes me like seven minutes to get ready. But it’s something I can’t do without whether I’m camping or on an airplane or just getting to the office.

 

I mean, that’s kind of a commitment! How long have you had this mustache?

The last day that I shaved was my wedding day, so it has been almost five years. And nearly every day I ask my wife “is it okay to have this?” because she has to look at me more than I do. And I think as long as she says it’s cool to have, I’m going to keep it. I feel like this is who I’m supposed to be as an adult.

 

Yes! I think that’s something cool to realize and, you know, ‘own’.

Exactly. It at least brings a smile to people’s faces. And I don’t know if they like it, but they like looking at it. So that’s good.

[Laughs] Now this interview will only be about me and my mustache.

 

Oh don’t even worry. I can totally relate. For me, my height usually is what hi-jacks the conversation. But at least people don’t forget who you are!

So let’s move along. What’s your commute to the office like?

I’m usually one of the first people here at the office. I get in at like 7:45, but my form of transportation depends on the weather; here in San Francisco you never know what the weather will be. So if it’s chilly out or I want to catch up on podcasts I take the bus. It’s super easy – about

First person view of Ocon’s ride to work

20 minutes to get downtown and then a 30-minute walk to the office. So I get a good amount of time listening to podcasts. But majority of the time I am a bike rider. I try to ride my bike to the office on a daily basis. But even if I take the bus in, I have an office bike here, so I am on my bike at least once a day.

 

Cool. We just learned the Westport office has office bikes and office razor scooters. We’re pretty jealous in Chicago.

Yeah, I feel like in San Francisco we should incorporate that into our daily life. It’s just so easy and the city is perfect for it. Plus, we don’t have so many food options by the office, so you’re kind of stuck with whatever is in walking distance and that just opens up the possibilities.

 

So I know you said you like to listen to podcasts. When you’re in the office, do you wear headphones at your desk?

I am not really a headphones user when I’m in the office. I sit smack-dab in the middle of the office in the front row. So I actually like to hear all the conversations and be a part of the conversations all day. Unless I have some major stuff to do, then I’ll zone out and go into headphone mode.

 

But yeah, that’s good, because then when you have your headphones on people know you’re ‘in the zone’ and don’t want to talk about “The Voice” finale or whatever the talk of the day is.

Yeah, and that’s really a big reason why I get in to the office so early. I’m in by 7:30, and most people get in about 9:30. And I feel like I get the majority of my work done in that two-hour span of time.

 

This is so funny, Drew, because I’m pretty sure if we worked in the same office we’d be buds. It’s very rare that I’m at the office after 7:30. We run on the same routine!

So which podcasts are your favorites?

I’m an award-winning listener to Pardon My Take. It’s a sports podcast by BarStool Sports and I listen to that pretty frequently. There’s a lot of design podcasts that are based here in San Francisco, like 99% Invisible, which is a great one about day-to-day life and the little design aspects that you walk by every day without realizing it’s functionality, and they talk about different parts of the country too even though it’s based here [in San Francisco]. I listen to NPR Politics, especially ever since the election season last year. It’s one of the main reasons I couldn’t ride my bike because I had to listen to the news every morning. And now it’s just a part of my every day life. I also haven’t been able to stop listening to NPR’s Houston Public Radio – “Classical Classroom,” especially episodes 4, 145, and 153.

 

So after your early start, and your day chatting with your colleagues, as the workday starts coming to a close, is there a specific after-work activity that completes your week? Or makes for a really good day?

Well, the nice thing is that we are a really social office. And we have that open office layout, but you still kind of sit with a group of people in your little open space. And it’s nice because we have a small beer fridge in my little “cell block” as we call it. So whether it’s celebratory or drowning our sorrows we try to do a cheers at the end of the day at least between a few of us. So that’s really nice. Especially because we’re busting our asses most of the time, and there’s not a lot of us that leaves right at 5:00, so that’s when it turns to a more social space. That’s something that happens at least once or twice a week.

And here in San Francisco, it’s very bike friendly, and there are a lot of more outdoorsy aspects to living here. So, one of my favorite things in the summer is to jump on my bike and make it up across the Golden Gate bridge in an hour or so to a campsite. I’ll be there for a couple hours see the sunset, pitch a tent, and then ride back in the morning. I do that at least every other week during the summer. It’s super easy.

 

Woah! That’s super cool. Do you do that solo, or is there a group from the office who goes?

I think this year I’m going to really try to push for a group of people to do it. Typically it’s just my wife and myself. There are some amazing views, and it’s like you’re totally disconnected from city life, but at the same time you’re just over the hill and you can get to work in the morning.

 

That is so cool. I didn’t even know that’s a thing!

Yeah, haha. It’s like a little getaway, especially because it doesn’t really get dark until 8 or 9 o’clock. So if you get somewhere by like 5 or 6 you still have plenty of time to drink wine and watch the sunset. It’s pretty awesome.

I’d sleep outside for that view, too.

 

Wow, that’s amazing. That’s why California is so awesome.

Yeah, that and then at the end of the day, I’ll go play softball a few nights a week. I’m not someone who goes to the gym to exercise, so I’m on a lot of athletic teams. Not that it’s a sport, but I am in a pinball league too.

 

Haha, yes, but it’s still good to have things on the schedule that hold you accountable to a life! This is a question that I keep asking because I’m always so curious. But do you have a current obsession right now? Or, like, something you can’t stop talking about?

Hmmm.

[He thinks, and I provide my own example. I’m currently obsessed with Selena Gomez]

I’m really trying to learn new skills. So right now I’m doing a lot of sewing. Like reupholstering things. So at my house I have a little workshop, and I’ve been doing that and I’ve been doing a lot of woodworking. Does that count?

 

Oh, making stuff? Totally! I also recently took up sewing. Was ‘taking on new skills’ your New Year’s Resolution?

Something I’m always trying to do, rather than a New Year’s Resolution, is to challenge myself to do something new. Sometimes it’s taking something out of my diet like “I’m never going to drink soda ever again…starting today.” I just up and decided to do that

And it happens sometimes that I there are projects to do in my personal life where I’m like “I know I could do this,” so I know I need to learn how to do it, and it just takes me a lot longer than if I just paid someone to go do it but now I have the skill to do it on my own.

I feel like a lot of people here at the San Francisco office are very entrepreneurial. So it’s kind of cool because we’re always talking about “what’s inspired us this week” or “what is the next project that we could make”. I could talk about this forever because the time I left MKTG, I was really well known for having projects funded on kick-starter and a company featured on Shark Tank. So –

 

WAIT WOAH!

But I know that’s not “day-to-day” life

 

Wait. I want to know all about this. Because I was going to ask next: Is there anything else about your life that’s interesting that you’d want to share? And if I asked that and you didn’t’ talk about Shark Tank that would be super lame. Let’s hear it!

Ok. So after I left MKTG about six years ago I was at this point in my life where I was like “okay, what do I want to do next? Do I want to go back to school and get my MBA or do I want to get some more real world experience?” I was working with some of my buddies from high school that were in school getting their MBAs and one of them was down at Stanford getting his Doctorate in electrical engineering. We had to make a business plan for my buddy who was getting his MBA. So we were working together and found a product that didn’t have any patents around it, and it was potentially something that we could start. So we began re-designing the bicycle light. We started a company, put it on Kickstarter back in 2010, and raised $300,000 there. Through out the years we probably did four other campaigns and raised over a million dollars worth of crowd funding. It was a crazy four years.

Yes, that’s a headline about their product on CNN.

So we did really well. We were really well known. At the time we were the 7th highest grossing project on Kickstarter. It was cool. It was so inspiring. I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. We stuck with it, I quit all my jobs, focused on this and worked a couple years without pay and just lived off of savings. And one day we were like “we’re getting investment, we’re pitching to all these investors locally,” and Shark Tank came back to us and said, “Hi, we pitched to you back in the day and you said no. Would you be willing to come on the show now?” So we made the decision to go on the show, to have only one person on the stage and go in really low on the offer to start a bidding war. It was actually an exciting episode to watch and be a part of because we thought for sure we were going to start working with Mark Cuban. But he’s the one who started calling us out right away like he didn’t like us at all.

We ended up making a deal with Robert Herjavec. We ended up selling the company, I did some traveling, and came back to MKTG. And this industry is something I’ve known and loved for so long and it was such an easy place to land because I still knew a lot of people here and they were great friends. So I couldn’t really think of a reason not to come back to a place that I really enjoyed.

 

WOW WHAT A WHIRLWIND.

I know. It’s always interesting, because yeah, I’m a producer. But I really challenge myself to explore every aspect of marketing. So it’s really nice to be a part of the conversations that are about the bigger picture because I have that experience. It’s fun because you wouldn’t think by looking at me like, “Oh! This guy is really well versed in business!”

 

Yeah, I can imagine.

 

You can follow along with Drew Ocon on social media @sfocon

If you are wondering what the name of his company from the Shark Tank story is, it’s Revolights. Read all about ’em.

If you’re wondering if Drew Ocon has any other cool side hustle projects, he does. They’re Fellbury and High Boys (website in the works).

 

Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

May 30th, 2017 at 3:32 pm

A Day In The Life | Kevin Collins

with one comment

The Collins Family

This month, for A Day In The Life, we are featuring America’s favorite former ice-sculpture delivery man. The famously bearded, and famously off-the-grid, Chicago Office Michael Scott, ahem, General Manager, Kevin Collins.  You may have met Kevin when he lived in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, or Chicago again. One thing we all know, if you have met him, you’re lucky. Cause he’s really cool.
—-
Name: Kevin Collins
Office Location: Chi-city
What do you work on?
All things Nike, Beats, Gatorade, NCAA, among others; I dabble in additional agency projects whenever and wherever I can.
What time do you wake up on a typical work day?
I typically get punched in the tummy by a small child around 6:30am CST every morning.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you have a routine?
First I try to drink a glass of water. Next, I use all my willpower to try and not look at my phone until I’m out the door and headed to the train. Finally, I make the bedroom rounds to get the little people up and ready to start their day.
Your day cannot be properly started without ______…
A shower. Pretty basic. But I guess if the key word is ‘properly’ then it would require making breakfast for my kids.
How do you commute to work and do you enjoy your commute?
I take the train. It’s enjoyable, yes. I typically go on the quiet car. The quiet car is the car where people must remain quiet.
Does your day have a soundtrack? If so, what’s on your playlist that is a daily obsession or gives you that stroke of genius?
Sturgill Simpson tops the list this month.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?
Sort of. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson and anything that explores the cosmos. Space fascinates me.
Name your top five apps and why:
Well #1 is easily mozzarella sticks. Love em. Any type of mozz stick really. #2 would probably be tots – any type of tot really. Rounding out my top 3 would be spinach artichoke dip. My 4th favorite app is the Poutine at Green Door Tavern. And my 5th favorite app is Twitter.
What are some restaurants or spots near your office that make your day- from a lunch place that knows your ‘usual’ to a beautiful park- what locales do you live by?
There is only one spot. The Green Door Tavern. It’s an emotional wrecking ball – a watering hole with a great menu. I use the word emotional because it can play whatever role you need it to – a high five after a great day, warm hug after a not so great day. It’s an old school, mischievous haunt that I could not love more. Thanks for asking.
What after-work activity makes your week complete?  
What makes my week complete? Well I do like routine, so any week that involves bath and bedtime with my little people makes any week complete. I could say it was something healthier like yoga or crossfit but that’d be a lie.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution? 
Eat less apps (see above).
Anything else we didn’t ask you that you really want to tell us about your life?
Gosh there are so many things. Um, I’ve had like 30 different jobs in my life. Here are some highlights: lawn maintenance, barista @ Nordstrom, stocked shelves in the Men’s Department @ Nordstrom, delivered pizza’s, delivered ice sculptures, delivered flowers, cleaned dishes in college cafeteria, Resident Advisor (RA – yep, that’s right).
What else. I have two beautiful kids – Rockey (daughter, 5) and Dodge (son, 2) and a third due in early April 2017; a stunning wife with a beautiful mind, Margot, who I met in 2003, married in 2009 and couldn’t be luckier to have in my life.
—-
It’s important to note that Kevin Collins is also the only person in America to never have ever had a Facebook or Instagram account, so there is no handle to suggest you follow. Remember when we said he was cool? Yes, he’s really “I’ve literally never had a Facebook” cool.
Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

March 24th, 2017 at 12:43 pm

A Day In The Life : Kati Kasch

with one comment

 
In this month’s installment of A Day in the Life, we are featuring Kati Kasch, a director in the Sports & Entertainment team (formerly Team Epic) who lives on the road, but calls Denver home. Kati is one of the minds behind the Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Group that started at Epic and is going to be gaining steam across the US this year. Get to know Kati, her experiences, and her love for adventure below and by following her on Instagram. We promise, you won’t be sorry.
What do you work on? 
I help lead the charge on the IBM business, our longest client for over 20 years, overseeing teams across our hospitality, consulting and digital departments. I’m one of the lucky few who get to attend the Super Bowl each year for my work on FedEx’s NFL sponsorship and have dabbled with their golf sponsorship, too. A sucker for meeting new people and making connections, I am involved with our new business efforts from prospecting to pitching, acting as a subject matter buff on anything events, action sports, golf, food or outdoor lifestyle related. My biggest personal accomplishment is starting the women’s leadership and empowerment group alongside Samantha Bond which now spans offices across the country.
What time do you wake up on a typical work day? 
 6:00am…Okay fine, 6:07 after a quick snooze – I stick to East Coast work hours so I need to up and at ’em early.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you have a routine? Come on, tell us! 
Step 1 – Disable first alarm. Step 2 – Sleep for seven more minutes until second alarm rings. Step 3 – Wipe drool from cheek. Step 4 – Five minutes of stretching – nothing wakes me up like a good stretch! Step 5 – Check TheSkimm, Google Alerts (for news on clients) and ClassPass to figure out how I’m going to get my butt kicked later that day.
Your day cannot be properly started without ______… 
A stretch, strong coffee and a couple minutes of sunshine – it’s Colorado, people, we love our sunshine!
How do you commute to work and do you enjoy your commute? Details please! 
I take a treacherous 67 steps down to Kaschbucks (my kitchen coffee shop) and then 43 back upstairs to my office. I can’t complain…no traffic, nice people and small carbon footprint – a big difference from my commute when I lived in NYC that was an hour and 45 minutes each way to and from Connecticut. A lot of my work is on the road so my commute often consists of Uber and Delta to places all across the country.
Does your day have a soundtrack? If so, what’s on your playlist that is a daily obsession or gives you that stroke of genius?
I can’t do anything without music – drive my car, work out, etc. However, when it comes to my work day the only thing I can work to is Explosions in the Sky. Who the heck are they you might ask? Well, they’re a quartet who plays only instrumental music and who you might know for curating the entire Friday Night Lights soundtrack. You’re welcome in advance.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones? 
How I Built This on NPR
Name your top five apps and why:
OnTheSnow – it gives me the snow report for every ski resort across the world so I can chase powder all winter long.
All Trails – it shows you all the hiking, biking or snowshoeing trails based on your location. It includes directions to the tail head, info on distance, elevation gain, etc. and people review and upload photos.
Hotel Tonight – seeing as I spend a lot of nights away from home, and often at a minute’s notice, I like to book my hotels through Hotel Tonight. You can’t book until the day of your stay but I can get into some of New York’s hottest hotels for a fraction of the price.
Snapseed – because photos never do real life any justice, this app helps me enhance them to look almoooosttt as good. Admittedly, I am an Instagram addict.
Nextdoor – it’s a private social media network for your neighborhood community. After verifying your address you’re connected to your neighbors who can alert you if they’re selling furniture, if a crime has been committed in your neighborhood or simply to ask for a handyman recommendation.
What are some restaurants or spots near your (home) office that make your day- from a lunch place that knows your ‘usual’ to a beautiful park- what locales do you live by?
I live in Five Points, a Historic Neighborhood in Denver which includes RiNo a section of town with breweries on every corner, innovative eateries and one of the largest collections of street art. Working from a coffee shop there or grabbing an Old Fashioned at night is the bees knees.
What after-work activity makes your week complete?
During the week I try to be as active as possible – from a surfing workout to hip hop to spinning, I like to try it all. Not to mention, my favorite is the wheelchair lacrosse team I play on – Go Rolling Mammoth! An every night MUST is to watch Jeopardy – complete with yelling answers at the TV. I’m working up the courage to apply one day. You can just call me the next Ken Jennings. On the weekend you can find me in the mountains or on a plane – I will do whatever it takes to be skiing, snowboarding, camping or traveling the world.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution? (If you have one) 
Speak with conviction and advocate wholeheartedly for things that are important to me like women’s rights and the future of our planet.
——–
Follow Kati on Instagram, Spotify, and Twitter!
Share Button

Written by Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle
Mary Kate Pleggenkuhle

January 30th, 2017 at 1:43 pm

DENTSU AEGIS NETWORK TAKES TIME OUT WITH…MARLENA EDWARDS, VP of MKTG HR

without comments

Our partners at Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN) recently launched a series spotlighting leaders throughout our network called Time Out with…, and their first profile features MKTG’s very own Marlena Edwards, VP of HR. DAN North America Comms leaders Belle Lenz and Megan Madaris chat with Marlena, delving into her 11-year career with MKTG, from starting off in an entry-level role to leading her department. It’s a fascinating conversation that you should add to your reading list  and will be a recurring series moving forward, found on Medium.com.


DAN: So let’s set the stage here. Tell us a little bit about where you’re from and how this all started.

ME: I’m from Rochester, NY, upstate. I’ve been in New York City since 2002 and can’t see myself living anywhere else. I live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. It’s one of those areas that’s just on the cusp of being gentrified, but you still get all of your services and it’s still pretty cool and edgy. I love it.

DAN: You run HR for MKTG. How did you find your way into it?

ME: That’s an interesting story. It’s really about being prepared for opportunity more than anything else. I didn’t go to school for it. Never imagined a career in HR. From the time I was eight I always thought I was going to be a lawyer. I got a scholarship to law school, but by the time I finished my first year I was questioning what I signed up for. It became really apparent that it just wasn’t that kind of idealized Law & Order kind of lawyer vs. the real life monotony of being in a court room and arguing the same thing every day. So I took some time off law school and I got a job to support myself and after a few years I needed to figure out what I wanted my career to be. I talked to a recruiter and at the time I was working in operations, but my manager had me involved in a lot of employee relations, doing some payroll, etc.

The recruiter asked me if I’d ever thought about HR and as opportunity would have it I was working in more of an operations role at MKTG. I submitted my letter of resignation to take another position more in line with what I was going for with HR in the non-profit sector. An HR employee at MKTG told me that they knew I wanted to be in HR and recognized how hard I worked and my determination and they wanted to give me an opportunity in HR at MKTG.

Literally, just like that they gave me my first opportunity as an entry-level HR person at MKTG, going on 11 years ago. Every year has been an education in HR since, but that’s how it all began.

 


DAN: So that was 11 years ago. Wow. What has that journey been like for you?

ME: So I think the journey for me has been really kind of significant and similar to a lot of our other MKTG employees. What I love is that MKTG really allows you to own your business and work autonomously and if you can step up to the plate and you’re prepared and you can show people that you’re providing a service and a benefit, there’s always opportunity. Whether it was working on small acquisitions; rebranding and thinking about our culture and what we want to change; introducing a new program in terms of employee recognition; doing surveys and listening to employees and understanding why we were having people thinking about leaving and understanding how important learning and development was… as long as I was able to build a case and present that to our leadership team, I was always given the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Year after year after year there was always some business challenge that called for HR support and I was able to provide a service to our leaders. And 11 year’s later, here I am!

DAN: Is it what you expected? What has surprised you?

ME: Absolutely not! People ask me all the time what makes me stay because 11 years in the advertising/marketing space is unheard of. But every day is a new day. We do a lot of experiential work rooted in events and having employees in 40 different states spanning a number of different industries from sports to wine and spirits, you have a lot of factors that can lead to so many precarious situations. So if it’s someone wanting an alligator at an event, I need to know what our liability is as a company for having that happen. That’s an HR issue because I need to understand our insurance policies and what that means. Or if we’re going to open an office in London, what does that mean about hiring people, and visas, etc. So really having the opportunity to spread my wings and learn and identify mentors — like other HR leads across the Dentsu Aegis Network — have allowed me to learn about situations I hadn’t experienced yet.

DAN: How has it been to grow as a leader within the same company? Some people move jobs every couple of years to get promoted or ascend but it’s different to do that in the same company.

ME: It is, it’s very different. It takes a lot of self awareness and hard work because when you are being promoted from within people see you in the role that you came in as and it’s a constant reminder. But if you have a manager or a support system that really believes in your contribution, like I have had, they are championing you 100%. They say, “she has a voice, it’s important and we need to make sure we’re listening to it.” It can be difficult but if you have the right team around you it can work. And if you find a place that you’re comfortable, why not stay there and grow?


DAN: Have you had any career defining moments that stick out to you?

ME: The one thing is definitely submitting my letter of resignation and having someone come to you and say they recognize something in you. That has always pushed me to make sure that I’m always doing my best and it’s not always easy. Sometimes you want to take the easy way out but someones always looking and noticing, so that was the most defining moment for me.

The other moment may be before MKTG was acquired, there was a more senior HR person and I remember being asked if I wanted to be considered for this potential role. I was less senior than I am now of course but I remember being all “yes, sure!” You’re young, you’re ambitious and you want to get it done. Well we had a board at the time and after a week or so the team circled back and explained that one board member thought I needed more experience before they could think about me for that role. I took it really hard and I had to sit down and acknowledge that to someone who didn’t work with me day to day and from the outside looking in I had only been at the company for five or six years, without a huge amount of HR experience, so it made sense.

Once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.

It was a blow of course. It took some time, but there were some challenges that came through the business and I was able to partner with some of our senior leaders and they saw that I could rise to the occasion, stand there in the difficult times and support them. And then once we got through that together they saw me as their person for that role. Again, showing that you’re there doing your best is always going to work in your favor.

Two times that I didn’t think things would work in my favor but some how, some way, they did.

DAN: What would your advice be in that moment when you think you’re nailing it, at the top of your game, and someone says “you are, but you’re not quite where we need you to be”? How do you deal with that?

ME: One of the biggest things I’ve learned is you really do have to be self aware. You have to step outside of yourself and really listen to and hear the feedback that you’re getting. You need to be able to get that feedback and adjust and pivot as necessary.

DAN: And get visibility…

ME: Absolutely. Visibility is really really big. The larger the organization, the harder it is but you have to make that effort to get that visibility and make sure that people understand how you’re contributing.

Location: The Roxy Hotel, Tribeca, NYC


DAN: Do you ever talk to your teams about executive presence? How do you think about that?

ME: I definitely think that it’s important at all levels to think about executive visibility. From an HR perspective, you never know how people are going to react to the information that you give them. You always want to make sure that you’re representing the department you come from and the company in the appropriate light. What’s good about our organization is that whether you’re talking about our COO, or our CEO, they’re very entrepreneurial people who ask all employees what the they think about different ideas. They’re really all about the think tank approach. So if our employees have ideas I always encourage them to take it to the table, but it’s really about how you take it to the table. Are you able to show the benefit to the company? It can’t just be us spending money all the time. What’s the value? Talking to employees about how they position themselves whether they’re entry or junior level, there’s still a contribution to be made. It doesn’t have to be this huge thing.


DAN: On the flip side of that, people say that HR is a people business and I’m sure you encounter individuals who are not at their best dealing with difficult situations. Do you have any tips for how you help people problem solve those sorts of issues?

ME: When you’re talking to managers who are having a difficult time with employees, they usually are just looking at behaviors. Counseling them on the factors that really lead to those behaviors, and that those factors are what you really need to address with the employee is what’s been most helpful in my experience. I find that when you’re talking to people honestly and transparently, they’re more apt to be honest and upfront and come to a consensus with you. We often get involved in “this is what I want, and this is what you need to do,” type of thinking, and that never goes well. The questions should be more like “What’s going on with you? What can I do to help you?” and a lot of times people don’t come from that “What can I do” perspective when they feel like the other person is in the wrong.

Also, just try to be objective and take all the personal out of it. I’m really proud of counseling people out of some really disastrous situations. There have been quite a few over the years and you’d think people would never be able to stand in the same room with one another again, and after sitting down, really laying everything on the table, as long as there’s mutual respect there, I don’t think there’s anything that can’t be overcome. Respect sometimes means, I need to address really difficult things with you and this just might not be the right fit. Even though that’s a tough pill to swallow, people respect it and they understand it.

It’s the age old rule, talk to people and deal with people the way that you’d want to hear and receive that information and it goes a long way.


DAN: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about HR?

ME: Ha. That you always have to be careful about what you say! When I meet people at different agencies or in different walks of life they always say they would never imagine that I would be an HR person. Or we go out to dinner or have cocktails after work and people will be like, “oh we can’t talk about this cause HR is here.” We’re not judging you. We’re not here to judge people, we don’t do that. You should look at HR personnel as a resource. We are here to help you get the work done; to help support the business. We like to have fun doing it and we are a part of the culture and the fabric of the business. Talk to us like you’d talk to anybody else. If you’re crossing a line or getting a little fuzzy, we’ll let you know, but utilize HR. I think a lot of people are a little apprehensive when they hear HR or they always thing it’s negative, and it’s not. I encourage people to seek out their HR partners because we’re working with the leaders of the organization to implement change and cultural initiatives and we can help push that forward.

DAN: What do you think makes a good leader? How do you foster a culture of leadership at MKTG?

ME: I think a good leader is somebody who hears their employees and listens to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings. A good leader allows their team to drive their business and hears out their concerns . A leader’s job is to listen to that real concern and figure out how to fix it. It might not be fixed in three days or three months, but they’re going to put a plan in place to make sure that the organization is supporting everyone. No good leader wants to do the work of the people on their team; they want to empower their team to run with it.

Listen to hear not to respond — that’s one of my favorite sayings.

 


DAN: You’ve been with MKTG for 11 years. How do you stay engaged?

ME: I think our industry keeps me engaged. It is ever changing and every two years, it’s a reinvention. We have to make sure we are up-skilling our employees and that we understand what tools they need. What worked two years ago is no longer relevant so it keeps HR and the business busy. There’s so much data and information that we have to stay at the forefront of, that it constantly keeps me engaged. If I was working at a bank maybe I’d say nothing has changed in the last 11 years, but in media and advertising it’s constantly changing so you have to always be at the forefront to understand how to take you business forward.

DAN: Is that stressful?

ME: Haha. Yes, constant change is totally stressful. You have to break it down into bite size pieces and prioritize where you’re going to put your focus. It’s funny we have really focused on learning and development over the last year, and it’s super important to us. We’ve visited the MIT Media Lab, we use General Assembly, offer a Keynote course. It didn’t seem like a big deal if you weren’t a creative to know Keynote but now your client services teams are creating decks and they need to know about how to present. We’ve had to refocus on what’s important. It’s not necessarily about how to put a PowerPoint together, but about how to respond to client needs. We recognize that there needs to be a certain look and feel to everything that we present and that all of our employees need to be able to contribute at that same level. It keeps me motivated to see how engaged our people are with the learning and development opportunities we’re offering. It is stressful though, there’s no way around it. It takes a lot of time, energy and support to identify the people aligned with the company vision who will help you get the work done. That’s what keeps me motivated. I have a great team.

DAN: Is there anything outside of work that helps you destress?

ME: I love to travel. I just tried to take a trip to Bermuda in the middle of a hurricane, which I didn’t make it to… But I love to travel. For me, the perfect vacation is a little bit of beach/rest/relaxation, a bit of culture and a little bit of adventure. So I’ve taken some great trips, would probably say Turkey was so far the best one because there was just so much to do and see. I’ve been to Costa Rica, Morocco, Spain, Paris, London… every year I try to do one big trip and next year is the big 4–0 so I’m planning a big one.

DAN: Do you unplug when you go on these trips?

ME: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. I commit to checking in just twice a day and at most an hour each time I check in. So I give myself very limited times. I think in our world you’re never truly able to turn off. If you plug in and there’s nothing major going on it’s fine to step away again but you kind of have to check in and see what’s going on because things change so rapidly.

DAN: What does a weekend look like for you?

ME: Generally it starts out in Manhattan. I work out, just because I have to! I joined ClassPass and some of my favorite classes are around here [Tribeca]. So the day starts with a workout and I am a firm believer in walking around local cafes and shops, so I’ll just put on my walking shoes and walk. Sometimes from Bed Stuy all the way across the Brooklyn Bridge and around Manhattan. One of my key rules is that I’ll stay at work as long as I need to (whether that be 8 or 9 o’clock at night) but when I go home, I don’t take my computer home with me on weeknights or the weekend. Everything can generally be answered by email on my phone, if needed. That is my firm rule to have some downtime. Monday through Friday, I’ll give you all the hours you need and then on the weekends and after hours I turn it off.


DAN: Have you ever had any resistance to that?

ME: Never. The model at MKTG is that as long as the work is getting done people don’t generally care about the hours or when or how you do the work, as long as you’re being responsive to the business needs.

The clothes that I wear are really my armor. Our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect.

DAN: Do you have any good luck charms or rituals that you do/wear before a big meeting or other important occasions?

ME: Not necessarily any good luck charms but I love fashion. The clothes that I wear are really my armor. As you know our industry can be very casual and people always ask why I’m so dressed up, but I think that being a woman you sometimes have to put that armor on so that you get that respect. Coming up in the industry and being promoted from within, fashion has always been a way to project a confident exterior that leads the interior along, and pushes me forward.

DAN: Do you have any advice specific to women coming up in their career?

ME: My first HR opportunity was because someone saw that spark in me and it was because of that person’s mentorship that I am where I am today. One of the things that I’ve learned is to always keep that door open. When I see talent or someone who is trying to take that next step I try to offer advice and pointers because it’s also about perception. People rarely tell you — especially if it’s not positive — how you’re perceived in an organization. Having a good mentor helps you get those pointers to figure out the changes that need to be made so that you can grow in your career. Even just making a connection with one person who you look up to and who can impart wisdom, who can give you real coaching and life advice, will be extremely valuable. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but it has to be someone who understands where you want to be, your contribution and are willing to give you honest advice. If nobody tells you, you’re never going to learn.

I remember my mentor telling me that I always interpreted things as very black and white, but that in our industry there’s a lot of grey and you have to find out how you’re going to navigate in the grey. She warned me that you’re going to put a lot of people off by always saying no. You can be the best at what you do but if no one wants to work with you, there’s no point in having you here. It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I’ve had to learn how to live in the grey. And I still do to this day.


–Contributed by DAN North America Communications team and MKTG 

Share Button

A Day in the Life: Alyse Courtines, MKTG Los Angeles

with one comment

alyse

Clockwise top l-r: Toyota Onramp activation, MKTG LA office, Bay to Breakers activation, Manhattan Beach, Client Services offsite, Malibu hiking.

Alyse Courtines has spent her life trotting across the US, and as VP of Client Services across MKTG LA and San Francisco, she is still living the jetsetting lifestyle. A Cleveland native, Alyse went to Georgetown in DC, then gained a myriad of work experience for over 15 years in NYC- transitioning from Wall Street investment banking analyst to music industry player to sports marketing consultant. She finally descended upon LA five years ago, joining MKTG. Alyse’s MKTG connection actually harks back to to the early noughties when she was in one of the first groups of coaches/pacers for the Nike+ Run Club (her husband was a coach and Alyse was a pacer)! Her MKTG connection has clearly come full circle in LA, where Alyse lives with her husband enjoying everything this sprawling city has to offer- from breathtaking beaches to temperate weather- perfect for her daily run. Let’s learn more about Alyse’s sunny LA lifestyle…

MKTG: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you have a routine?
AC:  I love to sleep, but I also like to get my run out of the way in the morning. But don’t even try to talk to me until I have had some coffee or tea….

Your day cannot be properly started without ______…
AC: More caffeine, sunshine and avocado toast.

How do you commute to work and do you enjoy your commute?
AC: LA traffic is really as bad as they say it is and I am still getting used to it after living in NYC for over 15 years. I drive 45 minutes each way to work, so at least I get to catch up on the gossip listening to Carson DalyRyan SeacrestPerez Hilton…and get my dose of what’s important in the world from NPR.

Does your day have a soundtrack? If so, what’s on your playlist that is a daily obsession or gives you that stroke of genius?
AC:  I worked in the music business for a long time and used to always keep up with what was new, but now I just put on Hype Machine or Spotify. We have a good Sonos system at work and take turns with the programming, so as long as it’s not country I am happy!

Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?
AC: I’ll run to the Avicii Levels podcasts since my husband secretly loads it onto my playlist because we don’t always agree on music choices!

Name your top five apps and why.
AC:  Waze – I live in LA – this is essential!
Instagram – easiest way to keep up with friends.
Candy Crush – I am on level 700. Yes, I am addicted.
American Airlines – I travel a lot!
Weather – I don’t know why I even check this app since LA is honestly 72 degrees and sunny almost everyday.

What are some restaurants or spots near your office that make your day- from a lunch place that knows your ‘usual’ to a beautiful park- what locales do you live by?
AC: Uber Eats for the office is a lifesaver. We are close to “downtown” Culver City but it has become so popular that you can’t park anywhere.  However, I do try to get out and walk to get my steps in whenever I can. It’s not uncommon for me to take a quick meeting or call while doing loops around our parking lot! Because walking is limited around the office, we are very excited to be moving to a new space in El Segundo at the end of this year!

What after-work activity makes your week complete?
AC: Yoga or a run. A nice walk to dinner in Manhattan Beach (where I live) with my husband. We are spoiled here with proximity to the ocean, good food and great weather.

–Contributed by MKTG LA & MKTG Global Communications team

Share Button

Written by Andrea D'Alessandro
Andrea D'Alessandro

September 22nd, 2016 at 10:40 am

MKTG Atlanta FUNN DAY! Showing Some Smyrna Love

without comments

 

atlantafunnday

MKTG Atlanta ended the summer with their annual FUNN DAY! (which is apparently so much fun, it’s worth two ‘n’s). This year’s day of FUNN was a ‘Road Rally’ scavenger hunt that tested MKTGer’s knowledge of their local Smyrna community. The task broke everyone up into teams responsible for driving around town and collecting points via a Polaroid or physically gathering clues. Challenges showed some love to local Smyrna businesses- anything from stopping by Kenny’s Great Pies for a highly-touted KeyLime Mini, snapping a group photo with a waitress or bartender at Doc’s Food & Spirits or a snagging a scorecard from Legacy & Fox Creek golf course. After collecting all the clues, the winning team was revealed: congrats to Team #3 led by Andrew Knutson/Peter Pearce, Co-Captains Julie Weyandt/Natalie Cerone and all-stars Ebony Caison and Anthony Breaux! An afternoon scavenging on the road can muster up an appetite and the Atlanta crew retreated back to their HQ to celebrate making the most of their local community.  Now, who’s in the mood for a slice of Kenny’s Key Lime pie?!

 

–Contributed by MKTG Atlanta 

Share Button

Written by Andrea D'Alessandro
Andrea D'Alessandro

September 1st, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Atlanta Let The Dogs Out

with one comment

Photo Jun 23, 4 12 22 PM

As one of the many perks that makes our office a Top Workplace in Atlanta, we are proud to have an “open dog policy” every business day! And while we enjoy having a dog or two around the office during the average workday, we wanted to celebrate national Take Your Dog To Work Day by inviting all of our 4-legged friends for a day of treats, play, and cake.

On Thursday June 23rd, we hosted our very first annual MKTG Dog Day where we had 14 dogs come to hangout all day. In our warehouse we fenced off their own off-leash play area while every dog went home with special gifts including an MKTG sports jersey! Check out some of the photos because who doesn’t love tons of photos of dogs in the office?

Special thanks to Paisley, Toro, Pippy, Cocoa, Jackson, Clover, Boomer, Yoda, Guinness, Daisy, Ivy, Cooper, Samson, Ginger, and Ace for bringing their positive attitudes to MKTG Atlanta!

provided by MKTG Atlanta

Share Button

Written by Paige McConney
Paige McConney

June 27th, 2016 at 1:42 pm