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The Women Who Shaped Us

In honor of Women’s History Month, Phire employees took the time to reflect on their careers and the powerful women who helped shape them. Here, our team shares stories about these impactful women, ranging from top executives at previous jobs to supervisors who always pushed them to do their best. It was important to our team to celebrate these women and remember the lessons we’ve learned from them.

Marissa McIntire, graphic designer

I have been around strong women all of my life, so it was only fitting that in college, my design class became the first to be comprised entirely of female students. This was obviously not an intentional decision on behalf of the school, but I believe our class makeup allowed us to develop a special bond. It was comforting to be surrounded by young designers who were not only extremely talented, but who constantly supported and challenged one another as fellow women in the industry. My classmates taught me to look at things from new perspectives and how to question the status quo. I never felt less-than as a female going into a traditionally male-dominated industry because my peers showed me what a powerful woman looks like and helped to build my self-confidence. The 20 women of Miami University’s Class of 2016 will always hold a special place in my heart!

Valentina Silva, copywriter

One of the best bosses I’ve ever had is an amazing woman named Kamin. I know the term “amazing” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s actually a very legit way to describe her. She was the U.S. Navy’s first-ever female African-American helicopter pilot, and she was definitely the first Black woman to ever hold a vice president position at the company we worked for. Kamin really taught me a lot about being a grown woman in the workplace — every day (in the best situations and some terrible ones), she modeled how to remain graceful under pressure and how to keep pushing forward even when you’re being doubted. She was and is an incredibly disciplined person and an unapologetic workaholic, but she always encouraged her team to take time for themselves and create balance in their lives. She even let me go to Paris for three weeks one time! Kamin is really the best. She’s gone on to become an insanely successful corporate career coach and public speaker — and over the years, she’s continued to help me in my career. She was even a reference for this job.

Kristen Violetta, project manager

In my first job out of college, my account director, Tricia, played a huge role in developing my confidence and helping me grow. She was a no-nonsense type of person but was still caring and understanding at the same time. She always offered fantastic advice for having tough conversations with clients but also helped me learn how to play into my strengths and embrace those skills. Although I’m in a different role here, I still use some of her advice from time to time while project managing.

Casey Wood, account executive

Many women have helped shaped my career — someone who comes to mind in particular is one of my marketing professors, Jan Taylor. Her passion for marketing, teaching, and mentoring had a great impact. She was one of many who helped develop my passion for marketing and my love for what we all get to do every day. Her impressive work ethic and people-first mentality keep her in her office late chatting with students (often waiting in a line outside the door). I spent a lot of time in her office, talking to her about my potential career paths. Without her, I’m not sure I would have pursued the agency path (I’m glad I did). I try to channel a similar energy and passion every day.

Jim Hume, owner and principal

Coach Laura, one of my first swim coaches as a kid. She took zero crap, no excuses. She saw something in me that I was unable/unwilling to see in myself. Ultimately, she helped forge my work ethic and helped me know limits are mostly in the mind. She never let me settle for anything other than maximum effort or fulfilling my potential. I’ve taken those lessons with me my entire life. Sadly, she recently passed away at a relatively young age. One of my regrets is not having reached out and thank her — not for anything to do with swimming, but for teaching me how to persevere.

Kyle Stuef, director of planning and engagement

It was my good fortune to be placed in Dr. Sheila Sasser’s advertising courses during college and to continue to have her as a mentor throughout the remainder of her life. My daughter was born during the semester when I had Dr. Sasser, and no one was more supportive or accommodating to a scared new father trying to find his way as a college junior. She made sure that I stayed on track with my education and pushed me to be involved in the student advertising association. After graduation, she often asked me to speak with her classes, arranged for me to give her students tours of the agencies I worked for, and could be counted on as one of the first offerers of congratulations when career highlights or changes came. I’ll always carry with me her kindness, her enthusiasm for our industry, and her investment in those pursuing this career. She was truly a ferocious champion for her students across numerous universities and made a huge impact on me, my family, and my career.

Grace Winkel, graphic designer

The most influential woman in my career has been Anne, a creative director and mentor from a previous agency. She was a fearless leader who guided our team through good and hard times. Her work ethic, tenacity, and strength made her a good leader — but it was her tenderness and compassion for each and every person she interacted with that made her a great leader. She always expected more from her team but gave us the tools and confidence to achieve our goals. She led by example and inspired me countless times when I watched her control a room with her voice or build a story through the creative she presented.

When I am faced with a situation I’m not sure how to handle, I ask myself, “What would Anne do?” and find my answer.

And the answer usually is:

Approach with thoughtfulness.
Respond with confidence.
Inspire by example.

Andi Nank, PR director

My first boss, Liz, provided encouragement for me in my early days as a communications specialist that I will never forget. She had strong marketing and business expertise, but I especially admired her for the way she supported her team. A great leader and mentor, she provided much-needed guidance for me in my first steps in my career. Since I was eager to learn and absorb as much as I could in my first job, I was often shuffling around the office without taking breaks. She once stopped me, thanked me for my work, and then said it was time to pace myself before burning myself out. I will always appreciate the way she looked out for me, as well as her strong leadership and sound professional advice.

Cary Gitter, copy editor and proofreader

My mother was and is a huge influence on me. She was working as an account executive at an advertising agency in New York City when she married my dad, who worked there too, and had me. Eventually, she left the agency and took many of her clients with her to form her own agency, which she ran from home. Somehow she managed to be both an extremely hands-on, involved parent (chair of the PTA!) and the owner of a successful small company, all while keeping our household running smoothly. Pretty amazing. Later on, when digital started to replace print — her primary source of business — she closed her agency and began a whole new chapter as a real estate agent. From my mom, I learned firsthand the value of working hard and never giving up, and the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Her drive, focus, and tenacity continue to inspire me.

Matt Crigger, interactive media director

When I was first delving into the world of web-based work, I found myself struggling with a particular project. A friend of mine heard about this and pointed me toward her sister, Rhonda, who was an expert in web development and owned a company in town. Rhonda generously offered to help me work through the problems I was facing and, in the process, introduced me to several software packages, development styles, and programming techniques I could implement. She played a crucial role in my early career and taught me a great deal about how the web works.

Phire Group Team
Co-Authored Blog

Phire Group is a team that works to inspire organizations to find their unique spark. This post is a collection of their voices.