Ten Rising Stars: Christine Cefalo

26, PR manager, PeopleSoft

26, PR manager, PeopleSoft

While studying journalism at Chico State, Christine Cefalo not only knew she wanted to pursue a career in PR, she even knew the company she wished to work at.

"I always had my eye on PeopleSoft," Cefalo says. "It was and is one of the most respected tech companies out there."

Now Cefalo, 26, is the PR manager for all proactive external communications at the enterprise application software provider. She handles plan development, pitches, speaking engagements and liaising with the company's external agency, Porter Novelli. The other manager, Steve Swasey, handles reactive communications, serving as the spokesperson.

"She is one of the most professional and PR-intuitive people I've met," says Alissa Bushnell, PeopleSoft's global director of PR. "I've trained at least 75 PR professionals, and she's like a prodigy for PR; she just gets it."

While she has an interest in software and technology, she loves the constant change inherent in the tech practice.

Change was an unwelcome visitor at PeopleSoft in 2003, shortly after the company's friendly acquisition of JD Edwards. The company's rival, Oracle, made an unsolicited, hostile takeover bid for the firm. Needless to say, this provided a huge roadblock for someone whose job it was to pitch stories the company wished to focus on, when the media wanted to focus on the Oracle issue.

"She realized the constraints with what we had to work with," Bushnell says. "If there's a roadblock, she says, 'Great. Let's get around it.'"

Dealing with the Oracle situation requires adaptability, Cefalo says. "You have to be really agile in PR. If you know your media [contacts] and you have your eye on the ball, you can be ready for anything," Cefalo says.

Cefalo enjoys the corporate side because she relishes the contact with the industry leaders.

"I like having a direct line to executives," she explains.

Bushnell points out the importance of Cefalo's job, citing her recent responsibility of driving global PR efforts for all products and strategy, including its EnterpriseOne 8.10 solution, that the company announced at the CeBIT event in Germany, which required her to do link up PR personnel in multiple countries.

"That's a high visibility, high stress role for someone as young as her," Bushnell says. "She's in a role most people would dream of having after 12 years of experience, especially for such a large company."

Outside of work, Cefalo relaxes with... more work. She previously volunteered to do PR for an animal shelter in Pleasanton, before she moved to San Diego. She also confesses being a news junkie. "I probably read the news much more than I need to," Cefalo says. To return to the list, click here.

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