"I was lucky enough to be Sam’s Mentor through ThinkLA’s Mentorship program and I fell in love with her immediately; she is so powerful, smart, kind, dynamic, understanding, AMAZING. Her desire to grow and learn from everyone around her is infectious – to progress not just for progression’s sake, but to expand and learn about everything around her. I so value our time together and our friendship moving forward!" - Leisha Bereson, VP, Group Director, Programmatic, Canvas Worldwide
Photos: Don Lupo Photography
How did you get started in advertising? What's been your career road map?
I was a Business Marketing major in college, I was active in extracurriculars like sports, but also within the business department. Because I did two sports year-round, I didn’t have a lot of time to get real-world experience with internships until around my senior year. So I supplemented my course work with things like clubs, organizing local business owner speaking events, competing on the business presentations team, etc.
I eventually did get an internship where I was the Public Relations and Marketing intern for a fashion brand that was new to the West Coast and was trying to get more awareness of its denim line. I did things like compile press clippings from magazines, ship samples to Nylon and TeenVogue for their photoshoots, reach out to local bloggers for events we hosted. It was a lot of fun that was formative for me early on.
Then I got into my first real corporate job in Orange County in the automotive industry. I knew nothing about cars but Kelley Blue Book took me in as a Public Relations Coordinator. It was a temp position that eventually lead to a full-time role as a Marketing Coordinator. From there, I worked my way through the lower ranks of Marketing Specialists and then Associate Marketing Manager.
I learned a lot during those years, wearing a lot of hats in maintaining my team’s media and production budgets, learning to write effective briefs, managing our social media community and the content development process. I also learned a lot working with our media and creative agencies. I loved that the people were authentic, personable but had so much expertise in their fields.
I decided it was time for me to join the agency side so that I could learn from these amazing experts by working with them, and here I am at RPA!
What keeps you motivated? Do you have a personal motto?
I’m motivated by learning, growing, and helping others learn and grow. We should never lose a student mentality; we should always be learning. And at the same time, if we can each teach one another, we learn even more ourselves and we share that knowledge to help others grow. Let's elevate one another.
What excites you most about this industry?
The fast pace and changing landscapes that always keep me on my toes. I love challenges and collaboration, so this is a great industry for that!
Where is advertising heading? What do the next five years look like?
As the content bubble begins to burst, we’ll leave the days of viral video, click bait, and surface-level content that is stimulating but not valuable. The pendulum is swinging toward advertising and marketing that is both valuable in content -- what that content contributes to the daily lives of people -- and also that puts the values of people and brands front and center: humanitarian values, societal values, equality, etc.
Authenticity, transparency, and equality take center stage. I also think we’ll see traditional continue to emerge in new forms. For example, the changing landscape of digital video and original programming and that shift from TV: what’s old is new again, just in slightly different formats and spaces.
What advice do you have for black advertising professionals who are beginning their career?
Stay hungry! Hungry to learn and hungry to push for growth. Don’t expect to do the bare minimum and get more opportunity or to get meaning from your job; you have to dig deeper. Learn as much as you can and always challenge yourself, reach higher... and once you’ve achieved that, reach even higher again and again.
Make sure you give back, mentor someone, be someone’s role model, help bring someone up the ladder as you go, whether you had someone to do the same for you or not, again we need to lift each other up. Be yourself and have fun with it, surround yourself with people that contribute to your happiness and positivity; don’t feel you have to change yourself just to get by.
What should our industry be talking about in 2018?
We should be talking about what we’re actually doing to increase diversity and inclusivity within our industry, within our agencies, in the work we do for clients. Let’s talk about what we’re actually doing about it. How is it working? How are we measuring success? Let’s share best practices and learnings.
It’s 2018. We know the realities of this issue, so it’s time to show action and celebrate those that are doing it well.