What would you do if not in PR?
I would likely be a physician or a biology teacher. Having spent most of my career in healthcare public relations, I am a total science geek and love solving problems.
Talk about the last time you experienced a fist-pumping victory moment.
Other than when getting the call that I had been selected for the Hall of Femme, it was certainly after the last new business win. Pitching is my sport.
When was the last time you endured a real "agony of defeat" moment? What did you learn from it?
My last agony of defeat moment was at the end of last year when I found out we were going to have to cease working with a long-standing client due to a holding company consolidation of which we were not large enough to be included in. When you spend days, months, and years putting your all into a client, your results are A-plus, and you lose them, it is a really hard thing to swallow.
We have had our fair share of such situations over the years. It is always an important reminder you can only plan for so much. It’s important to be proud of the work, replace the business quickly, and stay close to the clients because inevitably that door will re-open.
How long ago was the last time you took the time to recharge your batteries? What did you do?
Over Christmas holiday break this past December, when my husband and I took our two daughters to Aruba for a week. Aruba is our happy place and we had never shared it with our kids. The familiarity of the island and great weather made for one of the most relaxing and enjoyable trips we have taken as a family.
Also, our office closes Christmas week. Although I never really shut off in my role, the email definitely slows down and it allows for a great reboot filled with rest, sleep, fun, and appreciation for the joy of the holiday season and family.
What is it about this industry that frustrates the hell out of you sometimes?
The PR industry doesn’t get the recognition or credit it is due sometimes. Much of what we do is critical to creating the context for and supporting much of the marketing and sales efforts companies invest in. I’ve had many "aha" moments with clients when PR truly changes the game for them or is integral to managing a crisis to preserve a reputation.
With the comms and marketing mix converging daily, and digital as the common denominator, PR is being discovered by many people as it takes center stage in many respects as the industry reshapes and adapts to our new normal.
When have you seen this industry or your organization really shine?
Both our industry and our organization have really shined throughout this whole transformation and convergence of disciplines.
From the importance of utilizing analytics to deeply learn about audiences and target them more precisely, to people interacting and engaging with content in real-time, to everything being in essence digital – influence, relevance and third-party advocacy have never been more important.
As we move with this global shift in how people receive information, PR will organically into the center of it all. It’s such an exciting time for our industry and our firm.
Finish the sentence: To ensure career advancement and pay parity for women, I will...
continue to coach and support women to be bold, take chances, and go for what they want by providing the best training, experience, and opportunities to maximize their potential.
I will also continue to innovate and customize our work environment to ensure we partner with them (and men as well) to be creative in terms of work-life integration, whether it be related to taking care of themselves to stay healthy while climbing the ladder, raising a family, or caring for aging parents and relatives.
Words to live by?
Everything happens for a reason, so embrace and learn from it all – the good and the bad – and know it is all part of getting you where you are meant to go.
A great glass of wine – usually Cakebread red or white.
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?
Stress less, smile more, face your fears, take chances, get out and explore, yet embrace the simple things in life. Most of all, have a killer work ethic.
Who are the three people, living or dead, you would like to host at a dinner party and why?
My father, Peter Gurkin, died almost 20 years ago, right as my career was starting to take off, and he was always so interested in my work and where I was going. Although I know he is with me in spirit, I would love to be able to sit down with him and talk about my journey both as a successful executive and parent of two great kids of whom he would also be so proud to meet.
I have always been in awe of how much influence and change Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to make in a short and critical period of time in our country. His push for equality and commitment to effective yet non-violent protests are to be admired and emulated by leaders everywhere and for many years to come.
I first discovered Sheryl Sandberg when she wrote and published Lean In, a book that resonated with me greatly as a woman leader working hard to have it all. It was such an important moment for me when I realized I was not alone and there is no perfect road map to success, even for someone as high-profile as her. More importantly, when her husband Dave Goldberg sadly passed away, she wrote and published Option B with Adam Grant, which resonated with me even more.
Inner strength and positivity are the keys to facing adversity and building resilience, and this book gives tremendous hope and inspiration to anyone needing to make the most of Option B.