QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Kate Messenger

She loves the aroma of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but you'd better not ask her to sing the song in public. Meet Kate Messenger, MD of Alexander Ogilvy's San Francisco office.

Describe the company you work for Alexander Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide is a leading strategic communications firm focused on the global information technology market.

We have nine offices and more than 300 employees. We are a fully owned subsidiary of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, with resources in 46 markets across the US, Europe and Asia.

What do you do there? I joined the company two-and-a-half years ago to open the LA office. Late last year, I transferred north. Now I am MD of the San Francisco office, where I oversee a team of about 75 people.

How do you make a difference? I am responsible for all clients in San Francisco. I lead new business and help focus our professional development programs locally. I'm also the one who makes up an answer when no one really has one.

Tell us something amusing about your agency We have two unrelated Messengers and one Message working here. I often race with Amy Messenger, MD of our Denver office, to get onto conference calls first, because the second one to call in always has to explain herself to the confused operator.

What is your greatest achievement? Forcing myself to take singing lessons even though every note is a unique humiliation for me. I didn't want to feel bad about something that I could change, so I resolved last year to take lessons until I could at least hum along to the radio without cringing.

What is your biggest embarrassment? The whole singing thing. Also, I usually cry at the dentist's office.

How did you get where you are today? By applying every available brain cell to every job given to me.

What would you do if you didn't do what you do? Psychology - though you could argue that this is what we do in PR: working to understand our audience and make our message compelling.

What would you like to change about the PR industry? I wish it were easier and more cost-effective to measure the impact and value of our work on our clients' businesses.

Do you have a secret daily pleasure? Roasted chestnuts - I've actually had blisters on my fingers from peeling chestnuts before they cool down.

Who or what do you hate most? It makes me crazy when I am faced with intellectual laziness - other people's or even my own. I can be very impatient with people who don't try.

What is your idea of perfect bliss? I remember sitting in the New Zealand forest with my father, halfway through an all-day hike, and drinking coffee from the peel of half an orange because we had forgotten to bring cups.

The coffee tasted slightly of oranges, the air smelled of moss and eucalyptus leaves, and I've not been anywhere so quiet since





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