For a number of accomplished digital marketers, 2012 was a year of transition. Smack in the middle of one of the most intriguing times for our industry, a number of people made the decision to dust off their resumes and start anew.
We saw the new-hire press releases hit the wires. We read as industry trade publications speculated as to whether the hiring companies' bets would pay off. And in some cases, the payoffs were swift and impressive.
iMedia Connection recently sat down with five of these brave executives who left their previous gigs to make waves in new roles. We discussed why they took the leap, what they found when they arrived in their new offices, and their strategies for making a difference from day one.
Digital account director/interactive David&Goliath
Up until the spring of 2012, Josh Crick had always admired David&Goliath founder and chief creative officer David Angelo from afar. On the surface, Crick considered Angelo a "super inspirational guy" and someone who exuded passion for his agency, his brand and -- most importantly -- his clients. He was an advertising legend Crick says he wanted to get closer to, and in June of 2012, he did.
"I knew I wanted to spend my time here and put in the long hours and do the big work," says the 36-year-old ad exec, who now holds the title of digital account director/interactive at the California-based agency. "I remember walking in on the first day, and Angelo basically handing me the keys and telling me to go make him proud. With a guy like that, that's exactly what you want to do. You want to make him proud."
Crick came to D&G after a stint as VP of client services at North Social. Thus far, Crick has led D&G's digital account team and provided strategic oversight on the Kia account, as well the agency's roster of clients that includes NFL Media, California Lottery, and Universal Studios Hollywood, among others. His 13 years of industry leadership in digital marketing have most certainly helped to evolve the agency's cross-platform brand experiences for consumers and has ultimately translated into recent successes.
"Coming to David&Goliath was an opportunity to not have to start fresh, but come to an agency that already had much digital momentum," Crick says. "I simply wanted to put more fire on the flame."
Vice president, digital
MNI Targeted Media Inc.
Matthew Fanelli was in the mood for a change. He was online director at Gannett and satisfied with his position. Yet, he still found himself intrigued by the thought of joining a company that was focusing on innovation and customer-focused media solutions. He wanted to be a part of a forward-thinking culture and a company with a stellar reputation and unmatched credibility.
In October 2012, he realized his professional ambitions under the Time Inc. umbrella.
"I consider myself an adaptor," says Fanelli from his NY-based office. "The fluid nature of the digital media industry can make anyone a bit nervous, but it's that evolution that keeps me energized. It forces me to keep an open mind and learn new things each and every day."
Named vice president of digital at MNI Targeted Media Inc., Fanelli found a home for his expertise within the company's health care and pharmaceutical verticals. He was quickly put in charge of the digital practice at Targeted Media Health, which focuses on health-care-related communications in doctors' offices via print media and on digital channels. His hard work and late nights have spawned the development of digital strategies for clients such as GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer HealthCare, and Procter & Gamble. In addition, Fanelli serves as VP of digital at sister company MNI, which specializes in hyper-local advertising.
"The media landscape is constantly evolving, which is a double-edged sword," Fanelli says. "I've tried to stay ahead of the curve by enhancing our proprietary systems as well as collaborating with the best partners in the industry to make our product lineup meaningful to target marketers and far ahead of anything our competition is offering."
Director of account management, senior partner
Less than five months after Stacy Janicki signing on the dotted line at Carmichael Lynch, the Minneapolis-based agency won the Tempur-Pedic mattresses account. Carmichael Lynch CEO Mike Lescarbeau claimed Janicki's role as "crucial" to winning the business.
In fact, winning and promoting a team atmosphere is something that Janicki has always taken quite seriously. A former basketball player at the University of Notre Dame, Janicki says that the chance to take a swing at some really cool brands alongside the team at Carmichael Lynch "spoke to the competitor in me."
In her first week at her new home agency, a handful of RFPs came in the door, and Janicki was put swiftly into action. "Not having a set, institutional knowledge of the agency gave me a freedom right from the start that felt really good," says Janicki, who was previously director of account management at Colle+McVoy. "Plus, the chemistry felt good from the start. Chemistry is always key."
Some of the chemistry undoubtedly manifested during the many extended lunches and closed-door meetings with team members such as chief strategy officer Marcus Fischer. "It was in those lunches that we started to get a feel for one another and instill a trust within one another," she says. "It was a liberating way to begin a relationship. They gave me a long leash and felt quite freeing. In my book, it felt like a no-lose situation."
Vice president of digital marketing
Answering the phone in his office was something digital marketing executive Paul Jones seldom did as senior business partner at MillerCoors. "Too many sales calls in my position," he explains. Yet, it was a phone call that he did eventually pick up in the fall of 2011 that would take his career to a whole new world in 2012.
On the other line that September day was an executive from L'Oreal USA, whose job offer intrigued Jones and ultimately resulted in him packing up two suitcases and moving to New York on Jan. 10, 2012, to accept the position of vice president of digital marketing. "I wasn't going to change the structure of my digital team, but I knew there were new people to hire in," Jones says. "I also needed to focus people on specific tasks so that they would be more productive."
At Jones' urging, a three-pillar organization style was created, promoting the teamwork and efficiency that is so vitally necessary within today's digital industry. "It's a very agile environment," he says. "We don't focus so much time on documentation and processes and approvals. To be that rapid going to market, you just can't do that."
"Paul is an innovative digital leader, not only because he seeks innovative solutions and new technologies to solve business challenges, but even more so because he is great at forging strong relationships with all parties involved including brand, digital, and vendor teams in order to get the right sustainable solution executed," says SpyderLynk's CEO Nicole Skogg. "I respect Paul because he works to implement the best solution, not just the easy or flashy one."
VP, director of account management
After being named VP and director of account management at Wing in April 2012, Charlie Neugebauer had one goal in mind. "I really needed to learn how the subway worked," says the first-time New York resident. "I've always wanted to live in New York, and I had visited many times -- but I really had no idea how to get around."
After mastering his commute, Neugebauer set his sights on other goals, such as leading the continued successes of WPP's Wing, a full-service marketing communications agency focused on the Hispanic market. "I grew up in the agency business both in the United States and Latin America, and I knew a lot of people here at Wing whom I admired," says Neugebauer, who most recently served as VP and group director for General Motors at LatinWorks. "They were transforming the agency and injecting a lot of creative energy into it. It was the type of culture where creative ideas flourished, and it appealed to me."
Since taking the position, the industry veteran has helped contribute to the momentum Wing has seen as of late. "We started to get some new business from Proctor & Gamble via new brands and some additional work in spaces that the agency has been working to develop," he says. "The client was demonstrating their trust in our ability to deliver on another level and in different areas. It was just one of the many moments when I began feeling at home here."
Tricia Despres is a freelance writer.
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