When I arrived at Waggener Edstrom for my first interview it was dark outside and pouring rain. I was new to Portland and remember getting lost on the way, desperately trying to convince myself that none of those factors was a bad omen. That was 17 years ago. Not only did I get the job, but the person who interviewed me also became one of my greatest mentors and friends. Score.
I accepted an admin role on the Microsoft account with every intention of investing the requisite six months and then moving on to an account position. The kicker was I really had no idea what that meant. Fortunately my new position gave me a front-row seat on the action. I was an introvert in a house full of extroverts. I quickly recognized that while an account role might not be the best fit, I would do whatever I could to stay with the company. My focus shifted from our external clients to our internal clients as I tested the water with a variety of different infrastructure roles. I learned about gold-standard customer service. I learned how to work with a team. I learned how to communicate. I learned what makes a great manager. Where did all of this take me? Operations!
Blech. How fun can that be? Like most of us in Ops, I fell into it backwards. I never would have guessed that this job would keep my interest and challenge me for as long as it has. How is that possible? The people I work with every day are smart, dedicated and hilarious. They are people I want to hang out with — regardless of our working relationship. I have the opportunity to work with colleagues at all 18 office locations across the globe, and I learn something new from them every day. I have the opportunity to hire great people and watch them go on to do great things at WE. Our clerical positions are fantastic stepping stones — the success stories are endless. Finally, I have the opportunity to create cool space.
At our 30-year celebration in Portland, Pam Edstrom recounted the story of a senior hire’s first impressions of WE — including her perception that it felt like a law firm. At that time there wasn’t much about our space that reflected who we are (or were, for that matter). Hands down, one of my top five days at WE was when Pam stepped off the elevator for the first time following our most recent remodel in Seattle. I can’t quote her here — but I can tell you that it was exactly the response we were hoping for.
The outcome of that project was the result of collaboration with our board, our advisory team and employees across the agency. I loved hearing about their vision and helping to figure out how that would translate in our physical space. If you haven’t had a chance to see our latest project in New York’s West Village, check out the video on WE-NY’s Facebook page. We couldn’t be happier.
As I write this I am on a plane to Boston where we are kicking off the search for new space. I can’t wait.