Ten Rising Stars:Libby Holman

28 Senior Associate, APCO

28 Senior Associate, APCO

Libby Holman, a senior associate in the public affairs practice at APCO, has taken a no-nonsense approach to her career.

Holman, 28, majored in the discipline at University of Texas at Austin. At the time, she hoped to eventually become a director of corporate communications, so she thought getting agency experience at a large firm would best lead her towards that goal. Therefore, she interned at Ketchum and joined the firm after graduation.

"I knew I wanted to work out of the top ten firms and was very aggressive at getting a job at one," Holman says. At Ketchum, she worked on women's drugs and helped launch a couple of education campaigns. Her trial-by-fire moment occurred when she worked with a pharmaceutical company on one of the largest class action lawsuits ever.

At the time, she was merely an "extremely junior person out of school for a year." In the process, she got thrown into working on-site with some of the most senior execs at the company. "I had no idea what I was doing, so there was a lot of anxiety."

Eventually she says she left Ketchum because she was wed to a client there and felt like she couldn't pursue other opportunities.

"I was very lucky at Ketchum and never felt like I was a number," she says, citing mentors in her immediate supervisor and the group director. "Ketchum definitely helped advance my career."

 Her clients at APCO include the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), which represents research-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, a public education campaign for a financial services company, and two of the top 10 pharma companies. Her three clients bill more than $1.5 million in total. She also aids the new-business development team.

Mark Grayson, deputy VP of communications at PhRMA, calls Holman the consummate professional. Grayson says there are a lot of people at PhRMA who know the information, but it is essential to have someone like Holman, who can take a step back from all that information and figure out how best to reach the audience.

"She starts out with a real goal and program, rather than just throwing out a lot of information. She's very strategic," Grayson says. "She has been able to take a lot of complex information, work with it very quickly, and determine what's necessary."

Holman is also a guest lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Maryland.

"I find it hilarious that I lecture students because those in PR feel like they're constantly learning things and flying by the seat of their pants," she says. "You never feel like you've learned everything; I'm struggling every day to do my job."

"I go back once or twice a year, to lecture to the PR students there. [I give them an] overview of the larger PR field; things that will help them get jobs."

 Outside of her job at APCO, Scottish-descended Holman handles communications for the Virginia Scottish Games and does Junior League volunteer work. She also enjoys golf. To return to the list, click here.

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