Erin Gentry, Hall of Femme 2018

U.S. president and global co-lead, client services, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

What would you do if not in PR?
I would be a doctor. My dream early on was to go to medical school – to find fulfillment in a "helping profession." But as I consider the question, arguably, our field, and the management of an agency, is centered on helping people – be it our clients or colleagues.

Talk about the last time you experienced a fist-pumping victory moment.
I was never inspired to compete in sports as a child – I laugh when I think back on my lack of coordination and total absence of competitive drive. But now that my daughter is a competitive swimmer, I’ve found myself suddenly being that parent – cheering her on and wildly fist-pumping during her races.

The fist-pumping has never and will never be about the wins, but rather my admiration of her true grit and the competitive spirit she gets from her dad.

How long ago was the last time you took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
Every summer, I reunite with my college girlfriends in Charleston for a long, lavender martini-laced weekend. These nine women from around the country are a source of constant support, wisdom and hilarity in my hectic life. I’m reminded the familiarity and acceptance within old, dear, and true friendships is priceless.

What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you sometimes?
Stagnancy. We must constantly challenge how we do our jobs and our own thinking to remain relevant and effective. It’s why I’m so energized to be in this role at H+K at this specific point in time. Terms such as stagnancy, complacency, and mediocrity have basically become swear words.

When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
I’m very proud H+K is an entrepreneurial organization. We welcome and implement innovative ideas from anywhere inside the agency. We have an award-winning employee enrichment program at H+K U.S. that was borne from the creativity of a smart woman who had a clarity in her passion and a true intention for retaining our best talent. The data tells us her pursuit on behalf of her colleagues has worked.

Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women
I am personally committed to raise cycles that are data-, performance-, and equality-driven. My U.S. CEO and I have made a point of putting new rigor behind our compensation cycle that rewards top performers regardless of age or gender, and intentionally addresses outstanding inequities. I’m also proud to say my commitment is aligned with H+K’s global leadership.

Words to live by?
What you permit, you promote. 

Favorite drink?
One of my dearest colleagues introduced me to very good chardonnay, just in time for my 40s. PSA: Watch Bottle Shock with Alan Rickman.

What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Don’t fear aging. Every decade gets amazingly more fulfilling. 

Who are the three people, living or dead, you would like to host at a dinner party and why? 
Nate, Chloe, and Cate Gentry. I’m one of those introverts in PR who has found a way to survive – but I’m now old and wise enough to choose to live in the moment with those I love.

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