In Their Own Words: Kim O’Brien

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Has data ever
called to you? No? It did for Director of Marketing and Analytics Kim O’Brien
and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with as much passion for data
analytics as her. Kim has been with us for just under a year, but is no
stranger to the Publicis family, having started out at DigitasLBi. She is now
thriving as a leader in our London office, driving her teams with an innovative
spirit and a true open-door policy. Originally
a Boston-native, Kim has been living in London with her husband and their young
son for almost ten years. I sat down with her to gain insight into her impressive
career and get her take on life in the industry.

Why
did you chose a career in digital analytics?

I
started my career in database marketing operations, designing email and direct
mail marketing programmes with a focus on how to structure and process  data. I found I really enjoyed working with
data but I quickly realised there was more value in understanding what the data
was saying than to simply preparing it for a campaign. I honestly feel that it called
to me! As I progressed through my career ‘digital’ happened, which made data
more readily available and a lot easier to use to tell a story, which is my favourite
part. Using data to tell a story that influences decisions is an amazing
feeling.

What
made you want to join SapientRazorfish?

SapientNitro,
now SapientRazorfish, was an agency I’d heard a lot about. What really stood
out to me was the consulting aspect, which meant I could truly partner with
brands to deliver value through data. Today I work exclusively with one client
so I’m able to understand the drivers of the business and the challenges that
come with a business that operates at a significant scale across multiple
brands and countries. When I combine that with my experience and the expertise in
areas including data strategy, digital marketing and CRM, I feel I can almost immediately
see the impact of the recommendations that are being made.

Which
one of our company values resonates most with you?

Creativity,
even though that probably sounds a bit strange coming from a data person!
Everyone I work with, including the clients are open to new ways of working,
being creative in the way in which we use data to solve problems, and also
exploring the possibilities and value that data provides. Whether or not it’s
creative in the traditional sense, I feel our team is creative every single day
and it’s super exciting to see our ideas come to life!

What
has been the most rewarding experience in your career so far?

I
really enjoy managing people and I’ve been lucky enough to have had some truly
amazing people to both lead and learn from. One of the most rewarding experiences
for me is to see someone I’ve hired as a junior analyst grow and develop their
own unique skillset. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching someone be
successful using the lessons that I’ve taught them or we’ve learned together.

What
makes you stay here?

One
of the things that drew me here was the flexibility with where and how we work.
I am a working mother and was seeking a job that allowed me to play a role in
my son’s life. At SapientRazorfish everyone is open to collaborating in a way
that makes sense for the people on the team. Being able to support working parents
through initiatives like the Career Returns Programme is so inspiring. There is
so much effort that goes into making sure the people who work here are able to
balance their work and life commitments.  

What challenges
have you faced working in this industry?

The
challenges I face are likely similar to what many women face regardless of
industry. Just getting a seat at the table is one of the biggest challenges. As
a woman in technology with focus on data—both male-dominated fields—sometimes
it’s difficult to be taken seriously and make my voice heard. I think a lot of
women struggle with this. The way I deal with it is to try to find ways to add
value to my team, my clients and our organization as a whole so people can see
I’m not just a woman but I have a voice and I have value to offer. And it certainly
helps that I’m not shy.

How
can we encourage more women to get involved in digital?

Events
and mentoring are so important. Providing women, especially those who are just
starting out in their careers, access to strong, successful women to help
support and guide them. The mentoring, the encouragement, the support, really pushing
young women to be future stars is key. Encouraging them to be vocal in
conversations and meetings and helping them figure out how to calm those nerves
and just go for it!

Do
you have a favourite piece of career advice?

Jump
in feet first. Accept a challenge even if you don’t know exactly how to do it
and figure it out as you go. This is good advice for women especially, because
opportunities don’t always come our way so when they do, seize the day! If
something interesting or challenging, or something you’re passionate about comes
along, even if it extends beyond your comfort zone, seize the opportunity – don’t
let your own insecurities get in the way of going for it.

By Elyce Falzon, Senior Associate, Hiring

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