Please give us a brief overview of your academic and professional background.
I was recruited to row at Gonzaga University, and during my four years, I changed my area of study enough times to build foundations of knowledge in social sciences, biochemistry, humanities and business. I also studied abroad for three terms in London, England; Florence, Italy; and Chimfunshi, Zambia. When I graduated, I received dual degrees in English literature (because I loved it) and entrepreneurial leadership (because it was pragmatic).
My undergraduate education had given me breadth, so I started looking for graduate programs in which I could blend literature and business to develop a depth of expertise. I was admitted to Portland State’s master’s in book publishing program in 2014— one of very few programs in the country— and the only that included experiential learning at a fully-functional trade press. During my two years in the program, I also had opportunities to intern at small, medium and large publishers, including indie trades like Hawthorne Books and one of The Big Five, HarperCollins.
I worked in marketing for four years at a regional nonfiction publisher, developing the workflow and audit system for their title management and book metadata. I began to look for a new role that would allow me to grow and evolve as a marketer and leader in a company that prioritizes and cultivates a culture that supports diversity, equity and inclusion. That’s what led me to The School of Business and my work as the recruitment marketing manager.
What are your areas of passion and expertise in The School of Business?
My role manages all paid marketing initiatives for our graduate business programs. This includes marketing and advertising across digital, print, radio and out-of-home channels, as well as our sponsorships and strategic community partnerships.
Many of our prospective students make the decision to get a graduate business degree over a year or more of consideration and — unlike buying a new hardback at Powell’s — the investment in a business degree is always a life-changing decision. Stretching the customer journey to 9+ months and raising the stakes of both the investment and the outcome has changed the tactics marketers use, but surprisingly, my marketing framework has remained constant across my career. Since day one, I have gotten to flex my passion for storytelling and community- and affinity-building as I develop my multichannel marketing strategy expertise.
What do you enjoy most about working in The School of Business?
The celebration and support of diversity, equity and inclusion at Portland State and The School of Business drew me to this role, and that culture continues to be one of the best parts of working in this community. As a queer woman, it was important for me to find affinity and support the voices of my community at The School of Business. I’ve found both in The Open for Business committee, and I am so grateful to be able to contribute my time and energy to the event planning and scholarship awarding of this group. I believe Open for Business is one of the many examples of how Portland State is different (read “better”) than our competitors and their business schools.
What does “redefining business” mean to you?
Redefining business is more than a flat org chart and pronouns in email signatures. Especially amid the current global coronavirus pandemic and groundswell of racial justice activism, I am seeing more and more people in my communities envisioning more ethical ways to live, consume and do business. I believe in challenging the assumptions and behaviors that are normalized under a system of capitalism, opting instead to center the experiences of the most affected in our societies; reinvest in hyperlocal, BIPOC and queer economies; and hold corporations and our leaders accountable for their impacts.
What is the biggest misconception that the public has about marketing?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about marketing is that it’s the final step in the business process. Sure, sometimes marketing and sales efforts come after years of testing and optimizing a product or service, but just as often, the work of a marketer is happening alongside that development. I believe that at the best organizations the kinds of questions marketers ask — Who is the audience? How will this improve their lives? Where can we meet them where they are? — get considered, answered and revisited continuously throughout the process.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities for growth in the digital marketing sphere?
This is a great question! I think the area for greatest opportunity in digital marketing is in the honest assessment of bias in the algorithmic infrastructures that drive our search engine optimization and search engine marketing. Every marketing conference I’ve been to for the last five years has featured a keynote who speaks on the new and sexy opportunities AI and machine learning will unlock. I’d never seen anyone speak to the underlying racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry that are magnified online until I read “Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism” by Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble. I cannot speak highly enough of Noble’s research and her continued scholarship and activism, and if you happen to be planning any marketing conferences, dear reader, she is the keynote you’ve been looking for. Our greatest opportunity for growth, and perhaps our moral imperative, is taking a hard look at our internal marketing practices and demanding the right to transparency from the decision-makers we pay to play at Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon, Bing etc.
When you are not working, what do you do in your free time?
My partner and I enjoy watching good tv and bad movies, cooking and eating and talking about food, and doting on our brassy “rescue” poodle.