How many years have you been working in your field?
Describe what you do.
“Operations Manager”, encompasses a few distinct roles at the small agency I work with, including traffic and office management, but the most exciting part of my job is Project Management. As Project Manager I have the unique ability to watch all the projects in house flow through our agency. I also get to monitor all the staff members working on projects and adjust their work load if it’s too hectic. When something is getting hung up in a particular area, I get make sure Creative and Accounts are communicating to move it forward. I also create new processes to improve our workflow and help things run smoother. If Creative is the right side of the brain, and Business Development is the left, Operations is the corpus callosum – or the bundle of neuronal fibers that allow the two hemispheres to talk to one another.
Describe how you do it.
It helps to be a very confident nag in this role. It seems I’m always asking questions, chasing down content, making sure creative is on track with no roadblocks. I am a Spectacular Nag. I also use several tools to keep up with details. I use everything at my disposal to communicate needs, statuses and time frames. I use a robust project management software called ProWorkFlow, Microsoft Excel to create charts, digital time charts like Tom’s Planner, and email – lots of email. And of course lists and paper filing systems as well. Efficiency is key – so whatever will get the info sorted, searchable and distributed the fastest is the tool I’ll grab.
Describe why you do it.
I fill an important role at work – and that is very satisfying. I love the fast-paced environment and sifting through all the details. I also love that no two jobs are exactly the same. As an Operations Manager it’s important that I can view the workflow from above in order to develop new processes and adjust existing ones but also see and work with smaller details of individual jobs in order to help them through the system more efficiently.
What was the first step you took to become what you are now?
I didn’t have a good life plan when I started my career. Even if I had recognized my talents, I would not have known how to apply them in a career. I went to a 2 year art school and pursued photography and commercial art. After school I worked in a quick print shop doing design and prepress work, several coffee shops refining my caffeine addiction, and a magazine publisher filling the role of advertising traffic manager for magazines all over the US and Canada. After that I landed a job in a small advertising agency. I filled many roles including traffic manager, project manager, and at one point Web Department manager. There really weren’t many agencies hiring Project Managers yet. Most agencies were asking the Account Executive to also fill the role of Project Manager. That trend has been changing over the last 8-10 years. As I look back, I can see how each of these different roles have awarded me skills and insights that collectively allow me to do what I do now – all while sipping a perfect hazelnut latte.
What do you wish you had paid more attention to in school?
Oh great question! I was an excellent student all through school. I appreciated good direction and followed it impeccably. I earned good grades. But what I wish I had attended to more in school was my own set of skills and natural abilities. No one can really tell you what you should be when you grow up. You have to know yourself – your strengths and weaknesses, your natural inclinations, your passions and your dreads – in order to really find satisfaction in a career. I’m a big fan now of personality tests, circadian rhythm patterns, and meditating for clarity. Also there’s a lot to be said for creating your own role with a company. Smart companies value a good self-starter who’s passionate and happy with their work.