Kathy Bloomgarden: PRWeek Hall of Femme 2017

CEO, Ruder Finn

Kathy Bloomgarden: PRWeek Hall of Femme 2017

What would you do if you were not in PR?
Launch a cybersecurity startup. I’ve always encouraged our teams to work at a startup pace and embrace an entrepreneurial culture, so it would be an exciting challenge to drive the growth of a cybersecurity startup. Today, one of the greatest threats to the promise of technology and the Internet of Things is the threat of cybersecurity hacks and stealing data. Cybersecurity is the new frontier and will help ensure we can fully develop the life-changing potential of technology.  

Talk about the last time you experienced a truly fist-pumping victory moment.
Recently, I had a great moment when the CEO of a new client reflected on our first weeks of work together and commented: "I was working with amateurs beforehand, but now I know I’m working with pros." It was a moment to savor.

When was the last time you endured a real "agony of defeat" moment, a total wipe out? What did you learn from that moment?
I get excited about the possibility of working on a new assignment. Getting our recommendations together for a pitch is an immersive experience, so much so I often find my team and I are thinking 24/7 about how to tackle new challenges and provide novel insights to a company we might work with. If we don’t win, it is a real let down. After all, we formulate creative concepts and campaign tactics and are ready to hit the ground running for any potential new business opportunity.

But I always look at defeat as an opportunity. Even if I’ve felt punched, I look for ways to turn setbacks into something positive. For instance, working on a new business proposal opens up many new ideas and ways of thinking, so we often grow as an agency from those experiences. I believe that if you put your passion, energy, and focus on resolute solutions, you will come out on top. Bumps along the road will be just that, not major setbacks, and you will be more determined than ever to win on the next round.

How long ago was the last time you truly took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
Paris is one of my favorite cities, so when I need some time to relax and recharge, I’ll head out for a long weekend of exploring museums, drinking wine and strolling along the Seine, visiting the book stalls. It’s a perfect way to spend a weekend.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you sometimes?
I’m disappointed that our profession still needs to fight so hard to get a seat at the table. It is up to us to continue to innovate and push the public relations field forward, showing how we can empower and impact business.

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
I am forever inspired by the imagination, passion, and drive of our young colleagues. I have learned a lot through reverse mentoring. This keeps me up to speed on evolving technology, and on new ways of thinking about how to keep on the cutting edge of the digital world. Based on what I have learned from my reverse mentor, I now have a rule with myself that I never leave in the morning without tweeting and sharing something interesting from the news of the day.

Words to live by?
Time is elastic. We know that we have only 24 hours in a day, but when you’re so engrossed in something that you love, you lose track of time. There’s always room to fit in things you’re really passionate about.

Favorite drink?
Oban single malt scotch.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Possibilities are boundless. We live in a world that’s filled with opportunity, and it is our duty to spend our time doing amazing things. Speaking to my 20-year-old self, I’d remind her to find ideas that matter and nurture their growth. I’d tell her to push herself and her closest colleagues to take risks and focus on making the world a better place by embracing innovation, insight, and trust. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say as you enter?
You have helped people believe in themselves and their ability to do anything they set their mind to. Great job, come on in.     

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