Spending time getting to know Nathalie was truly a rewarding experience. She exemplifies the saying “Being About Your Business”. Her passion for creativity is the powerhouse that landed her a job at one the top cultural marketing firms in the country. She gets paid to do what she loves. Read on to find out more about Nathalie’s road to success and how she balances the fast-paced agency environment!
Name: Nathalie Day
Hometown: Jamaica and South Florida
Title: Senior Account Executive
Alma Mater: The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Undergraduate Major: Bachelor of Arts in Advertising Marketing
AO: Why did you choose the college you went to?
ND: I choose The Art Institute because it was close to home and I really liked the idea of gaining hands-on experience. I was originally interested in the graphic design program and I knew that I would be provided a lot of opportunities to practice what I was learning in the classroom. I’ve always been artistic and as a little girl, my mom realized this and put me in art classes which fostered my creative side.
AO: That’s cool that she recognized that!
ND: Yea, it was. I was probably around 12 when she told me I should consider working in advertising and at the time I had no idea what advertising was. But she did a really good job in tapping into my strengths.
AO: Does she have a background similar to advertising or marketing that helped her recognize this?
ND: No. Both of my parents got their business degrees but I think they did a really good job in realizing what their children were good at from an early age. If it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be working in media relations right now because alot of Jamaican parents are very traditional when it comes to choosing a career path. They either want you to be a lawyer or a doctor. But my mom taught me very differently than that and she put me in extracurricular activities that supported my creativity.
AO: In college, what professor supported you creativity the most?
ND: Professor Marcia Fernandez was the one of the lead professors for a graphic design internal firm that we had at the Art Institute called Artimist. It was for Honor students to receive real hands on experience and we actually did work for real businesses. She was the one that whipped me into shape. She did not play. She was very loving and she came from a good place but she drove me crazy. Because of her I’m a perfectionist; she would not let anything slide.
AO: Did her mentorship help land you an internship?
ND: Yes, it did actually. I did my internship in graphic design at Commonground about 8 years ago. My internship actually made me want to do more of the business/account side of media relations. It’s hard to be creative. I give them all the props in the world because it’s one thing when you’re in school and you’re meeting a deadline for a project but when money is involved that entire process becomes even harder. My internship made me realize that although I love the arts and being creative, it wasn’t for me. Once I went back to school and started taking more marketing and business classes I realized you can still be creative but just in a different sense. I’m a Type A personality so once I found out about this field I was like, “oh wow, this is me” – I love timelines and I love structure.
AO: That’s actually dope that turned into what you’re still doing today.
ND: Yea. I interned, came back, and I’ve now been here for 5 years. Literally, I love coming to work and I love what I do. With every job there’s stress and client services isn’t the best at times because a lot of your creative work is hindered by revisions and that process can be stressful but working with my team is my saving grace. I love them and they’re why I’m still here – I love the people and the culture.
AO: What is a typical workday like for you?
ND: There is no normal day for me. Sometimes I really don’t know what I’m getting myself into. When I come in, I imagine myself having a “normal day” but things come up. Last minute scripts are needed, I find out we have TV opportunities that’s due in 5 weeks, and I’m like “What?!” – so most days are really surprising.
However, there are typical things that happen everyday like managing the accounts and client day to day interaction. I make sure everything from an agency’s standpoint is being routed internally with all the creatives and that the creatives are developing ideas that stem from the strategy laid out by the strategic team. So on a daily basis, that’s what I do aside from emailing all day – my job is to make sure that what we’re doing and what we’re releasing makes sense to what was approved from day one.
AO: Does over-servicing tend to happen?
ND: Yes, but I try my hardest to prevent it. As a representative of Commonground/MGS, I want to be proud of whatever it is that we release. As much as the client may need it right now, I think it’s important to make sure that it makes sense and everyone internally has seen it and is happy with the finished product. I always say I’m a Border Collie herding sheep.
AO: What does that mean exactly, “you’re a Border Collie herding sheep”?
ND: As an account person I have to just take everybody and kind of herd them from a media standpoint – the client, the creative, and legal. I kind of just herd people all day.
AO: Wow, never thought of it like that. But along the lines of your ability to connect with people, has being Black affected your career?
ND: It has but in a good way. Because we’re a multicultural agency I feel like a lot of our clients trust what we’re saying. As a person of color, I have all the facts but I also have a Black/Hispanic perspective and this has helped me across a lot of brands that I’ve worked on. Multiculturalism really encompasses everyone but specifically, I offer expertise from the Hispanic and African American cultures because I’m a hybrid of both. While I’m not fluent in Spanish and my mom is Dominican but was born and raised in the Bronx, I still know both cultures and how they operate very well.
An extension of this value on multiculturalism was felt when I worked on the Coors Light account. I remember one of the directors from the company was really upset that I moved to the Coke account from his because he felt I was the perfect person for the account. The brand was specifically interested in reaching Hispanic and Black consumers and I offered a lot of insight.
AO: What has been the most challenging moment of your career?
ND: A headlining artist canceling the day of an event, an hour before the doors opened, was probably one of the most challenging times. He had an emergency which, personally, was definitely understandable but when you’re on the client side it’s different. We were in Atlanta doing the Coors Light “Search for the Coldest” contest and the line was literally around the block.
AO: Commonground/MGS was behind “Search for the Coldest”? I heard about it and loved the idea.
ND: We were the mother of the event, so to speak. I mean obviously a lot of other agencies touched it from a media perspective but from strategic day to day managing, experiential, execution, and social media – it was us. We were approached by Coors Light to do a music platform and I worked closely with Bridget Williams who is an account director here to execute the vision. At the time, I was very fresh and new and this was the program that taught me how to swim very quickly. We did it from the ground up – from a music platform idea to 3 years later partnering with multiple artists, doing talent negotiations, traveling all summer, last minute video shoots and photo shoots, and engaging all the partners involved.
It was a lot of work but I wouldn’t change anything about it. This experience really shaped me. It was miserable at times because we worked so many hours but to walk into the event and see all our ideas and creativity come to life was truly rewarding. It also helped that it was one of MillerCoors best performing multicultural programs!
AO: So in light of your accomplishments, what advice would you give your undergraduate self?
ND: I wish I had networked a little bit more. Although I had somewhat of a network from Commonground because I interned there and did a really good job with keeping in touch, I wish I had done a little bit more to expand my network. I cannot express enough that networking is everything.
Something that works well is cards – as old school as that sounds, sending a Happy Birthday card and maybe even a few cards throughout the year shows the person that you’re interested. And as a result, you’re initiating that person to contact you.
AO: Coffee or Tea?
ND: Dark Roast Coffee and I know that’s the Caribbean person in me. I’m a coffee lover so I really enjoy good coffee. I love the taste, the feel, and the smell – seriously, my body is addicted to caffeine!
AO: Favorite nail color?
ND: Funny Bunny by OPI. It’s like a cream/white color and it looks so clean and pretty.
AO: #TeamNatural or #TeamRelaxed?
ND: #TeamNatural. You have to love curly hair. It’s a special kind of hair and it definitely has a mind of its own. I have really tight curls and my hair gets very big but I love it!
AO: Best advice you’ve ever received?
ND: Learn how to have balance and set boundaries. I was actually taught this from multiple people, especially the senior leadership at Commonground/MGS. I’m a workaholic so if I need to get to work at 6 am to finish up a project or stay until 10 pm, I will. However, when I would do this consistently, the quality of my work would be affected because I would be like, “well let me just get this out because there’s only so many hours in a day” but I had to realize that I needed time outside of work. It took me a few years to figure this out but as I became more confident and more mature I understood the importance of having a life that didn’t involve work. And finding balance is not necessarily because you have responsibilities at home, but more because you have to have time to de-stress and live.
AO: If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be?
ND: Sheryl Sandberg, the author of Lean In. I like everything she stands for, her journey, her career. I also think she presents very good perspectives and advice in the book. I’m a very “woman empowerment” type of woman, so I definitely believe in a lot of the things that she says,especially when she mentioned that since the 1960’s not a lot of traction has been made with women empowerment as a whole and if I met her, I’d like to talk more about this.
AO: Out of curiousity, what book are you reading now?
ND: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. It talks about parenting, business school, relationships and puts a lot things into perspective in terms of understanding if you have a fixed mindset. The book also analyzes the type of mindset that you have and how people approach different situations. For example, people that’ve been knocked down by failure react to failure differently – some people want to continue because failure fuels them and some people just crumble.
AO: What’s your guilty pleasure?
ND: The Kardashians. Although I’ve stopped watching a lot of ratchet TV shows, I’ve watched them for so long that I’m like “ why would I give up on them now”. I’m literally invested at this point. My favorite Kardashian is Kourtney because she reminds me of myself. She’s probably the most boring character in the show and that I can relate to because I’m also a little boring. Taste wise I vibe with her the most – she’s way more realistic than the other Kardashians.
AO: Favorite Quote (or lyric)?
ND: My favorite quote is by Sheryl Sandberg and I resonate with it because I feel like it’s true. She says, “Confidence in believing in your own self worth is necessary to achieving your potential”. What I think she means by this is to truly believe in your actions and speech because when you lack confidence, you start to question your own judgment when you know what you believe in or think is inherently correct. I, myself, have had to undergo a personal lesson in being firm in my own actions and speech, which has translated into trusting myself in that I know what I’m doing. For me, it’s all about my choice of words. For instance, even if I don’t know something, I’ll phrase it in a different way that doesn’t make me seem like I don’t know what I’m talking about.