40 Under 40 Honoree Profile: Christie Johnson

Christie Johnson (ABJ 07), director of White House bookings for CNN, has been named one of six Grady alumni in the UGA Alumni Association 40 under 40 class this year. She has worked for CNN since 2014, where she has broken countless stories and arranged exclusive interviews. Prior to that, Johnson worked as an on-air talent, reporter and producer for TMZ, Anderson Cooper Live and Bethany Cooper Live. Johnson won an Emmy award in 2020 for an interview she coordinated with the U.S. Secretary of Defense at the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia. We are pleased to highlight Johnson in her own words.

What skill or advice should graduates and young alumni have for success early in their careers?
Johnson kissing her Emmy award
Johnson won an Emmy award in 2020 for an interview she coordinated with the U.S. defense secretary. (Photo:submitted)

I would encourage anyone who gets a job right out of college to go shake hands and meet with as many people in the company as possible. Get to know everyone from the janitor to the CEO. It is shocking to me how many people don’t do this. In the news world, it is all about who you know. Down the line, the relationships you form are going to be extremely important in helping you stay connected in the industry and move up the food chain. Every so often, shoot an email to check in with someone to suggest a creative idea you think could help the company, take someone out to coffee to connect, etc. Early on in your career ask people if you can help them by taking on extra assignments (even if you’re not getting paid for it). Connect, connect, connect!

Is there a piece of advice from one of your Grady College professors that still guides you today?

I learned to never take “no” for an answer from Professor Hazinski. Every reporter is after the same story you are. If you make a call and someone tells you they don’t have any information or that they don’t want to talk, try another route. Who else can you call? Whose door can you leave a note on to call you back? Just keep going. Keep digging deeper.  Think of unconventional angles that other reporters aren’t thinking of because there is somebody out there that knows the answer to what you’re trying find out – it just may not be the first official or person that you speak with.

photo of CNN wolf blitzner, donald trump and Johnson
Johnson with President Trump and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. (Photo:submitted)
Are you currently working in your “dream job”? If not, what is your dream role?

I am so happy to say that yes, I am working in my dream job. I actually don’t know of a lot of people who can say that. I absolutely love what I do. I’m able to work with the most powerful leaders in the world and manage interviews that provide critical information to the public at large…which is why I’m in this industry in the first place. If you’re not passionate about the media industry, and you’re working in it, you’re not going to survive. Also, the company I work for is amazing. After working hard and moving up the ranks within CNN, my boss agreed to let me work remotely out of South Carolina where I can raise my children close to family. I love that I can work out of my home office but I’m also able to fly to DC and NY monthly for in-person meetings or interviews that I don’t want to miss. I probably work even harder now that I’m down in South Carolina to prove that I can do my job successfully from anywhere. I love the people I work with and the work I do. It’s a win-win.

Johnson shaking hands with president biden
Johnson shakes hands with President Biden at a CNN Town Hall. (Photo: submitted)
What would you tell your 20-year-old self?

“He’s not the one, pray more and don’t care so much about what other people think!” Kidding…kind of. In all seriousness, I would have told myself “Buckle up. Life is a lot bigger and more fantastic than you know. You’re going to be thrown a lot of curve balls and a lot of blessings. Jump into opportunities with both feet, stay true to yourself and the worries that are all encompassing right now won’t mean a thing in a couple years.”

Looking back at your time at Grady, is there anything you wish you had done (classes you had taken, skills you would have liked to have learned, clubs to be involved with) that would help you with what you are doing today?

I wish I would have taken more classes on politics. I left UGA pursuing a career as an entertainment reporter in Los Angeles. Years later, I ended up managing political interviews for CNN Worldwide. Talk about a 180! Thankfully, I worked hard and learned the ins-and-outs of the political world very quickly, but I still wish I would have studied politics more in college. Learning about how politics have shaped, and continue to shape, our country is fascinating. It is also extremely important to be an informed citizen politically so you can vote and make a difference in what is happening in our nation.

headshot of Johnson in front of white house
Johnson coordinates exclusive White House interviews for CNN (Photo:submitted)
Favorite Podcast?

CNN’s 5 Things

One job-related tool you can’t live without?

My cellphone

Favorite restaurant in Athens?

Last Resort Grill

Favorite place you’ve traveled to?

Hotel Monteverdi in Tuscany, Italy. It’s a slice of heaven on Earth.

Item on your bucket list?

Traveling to Greece with my husband

 


 

40 under 40 alumni panel; join grady college at the 2022 uga 40 under 40 list for our annual "Message to my younger self panel" at 10am friday september 9th in the PAFSix Grady College graduates are represented in this year’s UGA Alumni Association 40 under 40 class. Grady College alumni honored in 2022 include:

  • Emily Curl (ABJ ’14)
  • Lauren Culbertson Greico (ABJ ’09)
  • Christie Johnson (ABJ ’07)
  • Chad Mumm (ABJ ’08)
  • Kevin Schatell (ABJ ’16)
  • Michael Waldron (ABJ ’10)

We will welcome five of the honorees back to Grady College on Friday, Sept. 9 for a “Message to My Younger Self” panel. Please join us in the Peyton Anderson Forum (room 238) at 10 a.m. A light breakfast will be offered.

Profile: Adam Pawlus, executive director, NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists

For the past 20 years, Adam Pawlus (MA ‘01) has dedicated much of his career towards advocating for proper coverage of members of the LGBTQ community and promoting the need for diversity in newsrooms. 

Currently, Pawlus serves as the executive director for NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, an organization of over 1,000 journalists, news executives, communications professionals and educators that serves as a strong voice in the news industry, educating newsroom decision-makers about coverage of the LGBTQ community, promoting non-discrimination policies and the establishment of equal benefits, and creating educational opportunities to support the next generation of LGBTQ newsroom leaders.

Following is a brief interview with Pawlus.

Pawlus sits at a table and smiles.
“Pride month remains an opportunity to put a spotlight on the inequities faced by LGBTQ people and communities,” said Pawlus. (Photo:Submitted)
GC: What classes at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your career?

AP: I believe the balanced curriculum, including the practical, theoretical and skill-based course components that Grady College offered me as a master’s student, prepared me for a career in communications, as well as in nonprofit management. Twenty years after graduating, I may not be able to recite the five stages of the Transtheoretical Model of Change, but the analytical and critical thinking skills that were sharpened by the case studies presented as part of the curriculum have helped me through my career.

GC: What does LGBTQ Pride month mean to you?

AP: In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a group of LGBTQ people gathered outside of the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and stood up to systematic discrimination and oppression in what has become immortalized as the Stonewall Uprising. That event was covered by the New York Daily News, under the headline “Homo nest raided, queen bees are stinging mad.”

These days, a headline like that would never fly (pun intended). Thanks, in part, to resources like the NLGJA Stylebook on LGBTQ Terminology, journalists across the country know that stereotypes and epithets like “homo” and “queen” are not appropriate for coverage.

In many ways, Pride month remains an opportunity to put a spotlight on the inequities faced by LGBTQ people and communities. Simultaneously, it is also an opportunity to publicly celebrate the people, successes and advancement the community has seen over the past half century.

On the most personal level, I see Pride month as an opportunity to celebrate the journey each of us in the LGBTQ community has taken in coming to terms with our own challenges, successes, milestones and self-acceptance.

GC: What advice do you have for a young member of the LGBTQ community who will soon be entering the workforce?

AP: Seek out allies and mentors who will support you to be your authentic self at work. Early in your career, it may be difficult to point out, and hold accountable, when you see people playing into stereotypes, using offensive, outdated language, or when you are on the receiving end of microaggressions. Find those leaders in your organization that can amplify your voice and help make cultural change when needed.

Also, join a professional network like NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Journalism & Women’s Symposium, Asian American Journalists Association, Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists, Public Relations Society of America and others.

There are so many professional associations that have programs, scholarships, fellowships, job boards and mentoring opportunities geared toward helping young professionals launch and navigate their careers. Get involved and never stop networking.

GC: What has been your greatest accomplishment since graduating from Grady College?

AP: I still regard graduating from Grady College with a Masters in Journalism as one of my greatest accomplishments. After graduating, I expected to work in corporate communications or at a public relations agency. When I took an entry-level communications position at a small nonprofit, my career shifted faster than it started. I found myself moving more and more into the world of nonprofit management. Even with that shift, the foundation that Grady College gave me in journalism, public relations, branding, crisis communications, event management and ethical corporate social responsibility, has helped me become a successful catalyst for change. Finding my way into a role working in association management alongside LGBTQ journalists just seems kismet and is the current peak of my professional accomplishments.

GC: Any other comments?

AP: We are often asked what the state of LGBTQ news coverage is in the United States. The short answer is, we’re doing better than we were 50 or even 30 years ago. We’re seeing fewer mistakes in coverage, specifically surrounding lesbian and gay people. Reviewing increasing numbers of submissions to our Excellence in Journalism Awards, we see that coverage of the community is improving, not only in big cities, but also in smaller towns. We see that journalists are holding themselves accountable to produce fair and accurate coverage. 

But as the base of knowledge around lesbian and gay people has grown, it’s becoming obvious where the gaps in knowledge and coverage lie. It has shown us where we still need to focus our efforts and programs. For instance, the most questions we get about coverage are around stories relating to transgender and nonbinary people. The transgender community faces much higher rates of violence than their cisgender counterpoints. Even in that group, transgender women of color are disproportionately affected. But beyond the mistakes, those critical stories are all but missing in coverage.

One of the groups that continues to be erased in coverage is bisexual people. Bisexual people are often misidentified as gay or lesbian. Not to mention, the age-old, harmful stereotypes that continue to come up in coverage.

It is critical that we properly report how people identify and avoid perpetuating damaging narratives.

Profile: Jim Farmer, director of Atlanta’s LGBTQ film festival

Every fall, audiences gather for Out On Film, an 11-day, in-person and virtual film festival annually featuring more than 150 films by, for and about the LGBTQ community and its allies. The director of the festival is none other than Jim Farmer (ABJ ’88), who oversees the programming and scheduling of Out On Film, while also working with filmmakers and talent attending the event.

Following is a brief interview with Farmer.

GC: What clubs and activities did you participate in at UGA and Grady that were instrumental to your success?  

JF: I was in Cinematic Arts, which handled film programming for students at the Tate Student Center. I wrote about the arts for The Red & Black student newspaper. I served as president of Di Gamma Kappa broadcasting fraternity. I was also a student judge for the Peabody Awards.

Farmer (left) stands on stage during a screening of the film "Mapplethorpe" with director Ondi Timoner and actor McKinley Belcher III
Farmer (left) stands on stage during a screening of the film “Mapplethorpe” with director Ondi Timoner and actor McKinley Belcher III. (Photo: Submitted)
GC: What does LGBTQ Pride Month mean to you?

JF: For me, Pride Month is a time to remember and honor all of the LGBTQ pioneers who have made our lives today possible and celebrate everyone for their diversity and uniqueness, while also remembering that we have work to do still. 

GC: What advice do you have for a young member of the LGBTQ community who will soon be entering the workforce?  

JF: That is a tough question. Today’s workplace is different than when I first entered it. I took a job many, many years ago for the salary but had to remain closeted. It was in a Georgia county that had a history of LGBTQ intolerance. When I did come out, I was fired a few months later for “my job performance.” I vowed never again to take a job for the money and to find a place where I could be comfortable. Luckily, I have been able to do that. My advice is to find out everything you can about the company, your colleagues and the climate beforehand and make a decision accordingly. It’s obviously important to find a job that allows you to make a good living, but it’s also important to be in an environment that respects you for who you are.

GC: What has been your greatest accomplishment since graduating from Grady College? 

JF: I’m old, so I have several! I am proud of what my team with Out On Film has accomplished over the years, the support we provide filmmakers and that we have grown into an Oscar® qualifying film festival. I am an arts reporter as well and proud of the stories I get to write and cover every week. Most of all, I feel lucky to continue doing what I started doing during my UGA days, do it professionally and be happy doing exactly what I want to be doing.

Editor’s Note: UGA students looking for more information to learn about resources and support the LGBTQ community here on campus are encouraged to visit the UGA LGBTQ Resource Center website.

Hispanic Heritage Month Alumni Spotlight: Augusto Michael Trujillo (ABJ ’05, BA ’05)

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of spotlights highlighting the work of some of our alumni in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Please watch for more profiles in the weeks to come.

Augusto Michael Trujillo is the national advisor for leadership development and training at Catholic Relief Services. Trujillo graduated cum laude from Grady College in 2005 with degrees in journalism and political science. On campus, Trujillo was a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society and publicity chairman and leadership committee for the Catholic Student Association. Trujillo has served on the Grady Society Alumni Board since April 2020.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? 

Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of the Hispanic and Latino community. During this month it is important to learn about and remember the pioneers and pillars who fought for equality and justice in many different facets of society.  I volunteer with the Latin American Association and as a Guild Member, I execute and plan the Latin Fever Ball each October. This event raises critical funds to help the Latin American Association with its mission of helping Latinos in Georgia become self-sufficient. In 2019, 600 people attended the Latin Fever Ball and more than $700k was raised.  

How does your Hispanic and/or Latin heritage influence your work?  
Augusto Michael Trujillo in Sydney, Australia. (Photo/Michael Trujillo).

As a Cuban American, Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to pause and recognize how my family fled the Communist regime in Cuba. They emigrated to America with few material possessions and very little funds. They were dedicated and driven to thrive in the U.S. Their story is very common as many Latinos fled difficult situations and are doing all they can to thrive here in the U.S. 

Being Latino has a large influence on my work ethic because I have that same drive. I currently work for Catholic Relief Services, one of the largest international relief aid and development organizations. In my role, I am determined to complete the best work I can because I want to help those suffering throughout the world.  

What advice would you give to young students of Hispanic origin who will soon enter the workforce? 

While potential employers are interviewing students for a new position, I would encourage young students of Hispanic origin and all students to also interview the employer. It is important for you to select a company that respects your authentic self. You also want to select an employer who values diversity, equity and inclusion in their words and actions.  

Black History Month Alumni Spotlight: Simone Banna (ABJ ’14)

Editor’s Note:  This is one in a series of spotlights highlighting the work of some of our alumni in celebration of Black History Month. Please watch for more profiles in the weeks to come.

Simone Banna works as a strategic partnerships manager in sports for Twitch, a live streaming platform for gaming and sports. Before joining Twitch, Banna worked for five years with the National Basketball Association, where she focused on digital strategy and content partnership. Banna graduated magna cum laude from Grady College in 2014 with a degree in public relations.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

To me, Black History Month is the acknowledgment of the rich, nuanced history of Black people in the United States. More importantly, Black History Month is a celebration of Black people and Black culture. In recent years, the latter has become even more critical. Beyond the sometimes painful history of Black people in the United States, there are incredible moments, traditions and trends by Black people that deserve to be celebrated. 

What clubs and activities did you participate in at UGA and Grady that were instrumental to your success as a career professional?

The on-campus organization that I credit with jump-starting my career was Creative Consultants. Creative Consultants was Grady College’s student-run PR agency that connected ambitious PR students with businesses and nonprofits in the greater Athens community.

While internships and on-campus jobs provide great experience, the average college student rarely gets an opportunity to grow a business. Through Creative Consultants, I was an account executive for an Athens-based yoga company. Our team provided sophisticated PR, marketing and digital services that had a measurable impact on the business. That was incredible experience to speak to in interviews, especially as a college sophomore. 

I recall my interview for my internship at the NBA, and the hiring manager basically asked, “Do you have any non-yoga related examples?” Although I had several internships at the time, the experience I got through Creative Consultants was the most translatable to the “real world.” 

What does the recent movement to continue the fight for racial justice mean to you personally and professionally?

I firmly believe that one way to overcome racial inequality in the United States is to create opportunities for Black people. Recently, tech giant Apple announced a hub for historically Black colleges and universities in my hometown of Atlanta, a developer academy in Detroit and a venture capital fund for Black and Brown entrepreneurs. To me, this was an incredible example of a company creating opportunities for Black people. 

As a Black woman in sports, entertainment and tech/media, I recognize that Black people have been some of the biggest contributors to these spaces (e.g., #BlackTwitter). Professionally, it has become even more critical that I advocate for monetary investments that create opportunities for Black creators, Black athletes, Black musicians, etc.

What advice would you give to young students of color who will soon enter the workforce?

As a Black person, a woman and the daughter of an immigrant, I was programmed to believe that I would never have any power over my career. I’d often hear that I’d be rewarded if I kept my head down, worked hard and played the game. 

My advice for young students of color entering the workforce is to understand that you can control your career. In my six years since graduation, I’ve learned that being passive will stall career growth. Be active and take control of your career. That means – network, ask for that six-figure salary, pitch your idea to your company (or another company), move to another city, dump that job if you’re not developing. 

My other piece of somewhat-related advice is to figure out what you want in your career — and your life — early on. Don’t fall into the trap of only aspiring to be a VP with a corner office managing a team of 10. Figure out what would make you truly happy and chase that. 

What classes at Grady College did the most to prepare you for your career?

The two most impactful Grady College courses that I took were public relations administration with professor Lynne Sallot and public relations research with Professor Kaye Sweetser. 

PR administration trained me to think about PR as a complement to business strategy. The main project in PR administration was a comprehensive PR audit of a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company. That one major assignment laid the foundation for how I’ve leveraged my PR background in my career to focus on strategic partnerships and branding that helps companies and entities achieve real business goals. 

Professor Sweetser was ahead of her time with her PR research course curriculum. In 2013, I learned about data and analytics, social media, social media analytics, reporting, SPSS and marketing research in her class. The skill set that I formed in Professor Sweetser’s PR research class has been critical to my career growth.

Alumni profile: Dominic Brown (ABJ ’05)

Dominic Brown (ABJ ’05) is the chief meteorologist for WIS-TV in Columbia, South Carolina. He was recently named TV Weathercaster of the Year by the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas. In the profile below, Brown reflects on his time as a student at Grady College and how it has forged his path to his current work.

 

What skills learned in college do you most use in your job today?

Dominic Brown: “Storytelling is a huge skill I learned at Grady that I use daily in my job.  In fact, being able to tell a compelling news or weather story is one of the most important things about my career. As a meteorologist, effectively communicating the day’s weather story to my viewers is vital to what I do every day on the air. I work hard to connect to my viewers through that skill in order to relate the forecast to them and to make a difference. Even though I don’t shoot video or edit stories as much as I did in my previous on-air jobs, I haven’t lost those skills from Grady. However, I have had to report, enterprise stories and do live shots in my current job, especially during big weather events or after destructive storms – all skills that I learned as a student at the University of Georgia. I’m grateful for all of it.”

What advice would you give to young alumni either looking for their first job or pursuing career advancement? 

Brown: “The best piece of advice I would give to young alumni is to stay encouraged and find a mentor.  Landing your first job in this industry can be tough.  In fact, I can remember mailing my resume tape/reel (Yes, a VHS tape!) to station after station after station before I landed the right job for me to begin my career.  I was so discouraged through that process, but I hung in there, and I’m so glad I did.  Mentors are also very important.  They can help guide you through your career and be a shoulder to lean on for advice.”

What gives you energy and enthusiasm for your work? 

Brown: “I think it all comes down to knowing that I’m making a difference in my community and that I’m helping to save lives.  As a broadcast meteorologist, I strive to give the best forecast I can on a daily basis.  People depend on me, especially during severe weather.  Viewers make decisions based on my forecasts, which can affect their families and/or their livelihood.  Also, I love to inspire and motivate students through my job. It’s rewarding to know that I’m making an impact and inspiring students to strive for greatness.  All of this gives me a lot of drive and energy to be the best meteorologist and communicator I can be every day.”

How do you use social media in a productive way? 

Brown: “Social media has played a huge role in my career over the years.  It has allowed me to stay connected to viewers beyond our television newscasts.  I often do Facebook Lives to give viewers a more detailed look at forecasts and answer any questions they may have for me. I even do short forecasts tailored just for kids on Facebook, so that they’ll know how to prepare for school the next day. Social media has been a great tool to keep my viewers informed. At the same time, I’ve depended on social media to stay connected with the community and with viewers who may have storm reports and pictures to share during certain news and weather events.  Those relationships with viewers are so important, and social media has made it easier for those relationships within the community to continue.”

How has your University of Georgia community helped you post-college? 

Brown: “I’m so grateful for my UGA community.  I’ve made lifelong friends through the University of Georgia, and I’ve met a number of amazing UGA football fans who have always had my back. It’s been a strong and dependable support network for me.  There’s nothing seeing another UGA grad or fan in my community and we start calling the Dawgs!  That’s love right there.  That’s uplifting, and it’s therapeutic!    Also, since graduating from college, I’ve stayed connected with several UGA classmates and grads through the University of Georgia Alumni Association and UGA Black Alumni.  I’ve had the honor of “coming home” to Athens to be the keynote speaker for the Georgia Scholastic Press Association’s Spring Workshop and Awards luncheon. The UGA community has also stayed in touch with me! Grady College stays in touch with its alumni and checks up on us.  Grady has played an instrumental role in my career and keeping me motivated to keep on keeping on. The UGA community has been my backbone, and I’m truly thankful.”

What is your favorite memory from your time in college? 

Brown: “I have so many great memories from my time in college, from football games at Sanford Stadium to concerts on campus.  But one memory that sticks out is when three friends/UGA classmates and I hit the road to Jacksonville during Fall Break to see Georgia take on Florida. That was an awesome road trip!  I’ll never forget it!”

Learn more about Dominic Brown from his bio at WIS-TV.

AdPR Week alumnus profile: Neil Hirsch (ABJ ’00)

In honor of AdPR Week, we are profiling select Grady College alumni who are using their Grady education in the creative industries they serve. In this series, they discuss their career paths and offer advice to current Grady students.

Neil Hirsch, APR, graduated from Grady College in 2000 with a degree in public relations.  He is the director of corporate external communications for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group. Hirsch was part of the inaugural Grady College AdPR Advisory Council in 2014.

Grady College: What are some of your everyday duties?

Neil Hirsch: I’m responsible for external communications for InterContinental Hotels Group across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes corporate media relations, issues management and executive visibility.

GC: How did you get your start?

NH: My first full-time role after graduating from Grady was in a mid-size PR agency in Atlanta. It was a great place to start – you’ll never work alongside more PR professionals than in an agency environment.

GC: What skills did you learn at Grady that have helped you throughout your career?

NH: Grady provided me with a solid foundation for my career in public relations. Beyond what I learned in the classroom, it’s what I learned and the relationships I created through my involvement in PRSSA, Grady programs and my internships that distinguished me from my peers.

GC: Is there any additional advice that you’d like to give?

NH: Take every opportunity you have today to prepare you for your career. Ask questions. Make meaningful connections with professionals and with your peers. Have a vision for your future, but also be open-minded about where your career may take you.

 


See more in this series:

AdPR Week alumna profile: Melina Baetti (ABJ ’07)

In honor of AdPR Week, we are profiling Grady College alumni who are using their Grady education in the creative industries they serve. They discuss their career paths and offer advice to current Grady students.

Melina Baetti, a 2007 public relations graduate, is a manager of brand and business communications at The Coca-Cola Company.

Grady College: What are some of your everyday duties?

Melina Baetti: My role on the Brand PR team, part of our larger External Affairs team in Coca-Cola North America Public Affairs & Communications, is to help tell and amplify the story of our brands through a variety of PR programs and initiatives. That comes to life in many different ways on a daily basis—some days I’m writing a press release and reviewing media/influencer lists to target for our next program launch, other days I’m responding to media calls about a particular brand-related issue, which means drafting a statement, getting internal alignment, and then sharing it with the journalist (as well as following up and tracking coverage). I work with a slew of different internal team members across our marketing/brand teams, content and social teams, legal department and many others. The work changes day-to-day, which keeps things interesting!

GC: How did you get your start?

MB: The summer between my junior and senior year I applied and was selected for a PR internship at Coca-Cola North America. The internship is only offered to Grady College PR students. I spent that summer learning the ins and outs of PR at one of the best known companies and brands in the world. I also met and networked with many people that helped me get my first jobs and additional career opportunities, and eventually found my way back to Coca-Cola after spending five years working at a PR agency abroad (in Paris, France).

GC: What skills did you learn at Grady that have helped you throughout your career?

MB: The classes I took at Grady taught me to hone my writing skills, do research before planning a program, and also the importance of having attention to detail. In addition, being inquisitive and creative and going beyond what was right in front of you to make campaigns—from messaging to design— to stand out and break through. Almost all of those elements are key in my work today, and though our industry is constantly changing, leaning on those skills while continuing to learn and change along with my work has helped make me successful.

GC: Is there any additional advice that you’d like to give?

MB: Take time to build relationships with people around you. It may not seem like some people are connected to your work or will help you in the immediate, but in the long run, people will remember how you interact with them and your genuine interest in them as a person. Take time for lunch or coffee, to meet new people and to get to know them beyond their work.


See more in this series: