Alma Klein: Marketing Mommy, Creative Director

20 Feb

“I’ve always had a lot to say, and having a kid had tripled the amount of anecdotes swirling through my head that I wanted to share.” -Alma Klein

I found Alma Klein’s blog, Marketing Mommy, a few years ago when I was searching for Oak Park bloggers. At the time, I was also taking classes at the University of Chicago’s Graham School in marketing, so I was really interested to find her blog which is like a sneak peek into both her career in advertising and her life around our same city. I realized she was really a force to be reckoned with when I saw her spot on WGN News talking about mom-invented products for kids. I really like how her passion for her work shows through everything she does; when she talks about it, her work doesn’t sound like a chore. This is exactly the kind of personality I love to find! Since then, via her blog, she’s introduced me to a network of other Chicago bloggers who happen to be moms, writers, attorneys, cooks, and more.

Alma keeps her own blog, Marketing Mommy and also writes at The Chicago Moms. She’s active on twitter as @marketingmommy. I’m honored she took the time to answer my questions about one of the career paths available under the umbrella of marketing and advertising. I was also really interested to hear how it’s possible for her to have such an ambitious, involved career while still dedicating time to the more personal project of her blog. It’s great to find out how someone’s life’s work goes beyond the scope of their 9-5 job. She’s a great example of forging a career based on what you truly want to do.

How would you describe your career or job?
I’m a Creative Director at Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett. I’ve been in the advertising industry for 11 years, spending my first 8 years as a copywriter at an agency that’s now part of Ogilvy. I was promoted to CD last year.

How did you start your blog? Did you originally plan to blog about marketing and mommyhood?
I was inspired to start my blog after attending the first-ever Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I’ve always had a lot to say, and having a kid had tripled the amount of anecdotes swirling through my head that I wanted to share. Instead of calling and emailing all my far-flung relatives and friends and then repeating my stories to my work friends and my neighborhood friends, I could write them down once for all to read.

What kind of tasks are involved in your work at the agency? Is it mostly creative, technical, or otherwise?
It’s creative and strategic. I’m so fortunate to have an intellectually challenging and creatively rewarding career that requires me to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, technology and consumer insights.

What education and training are required for doing the work you’re doing? Is there a need for continuing education – formal or informal? Do you find skills you wish you had developed earlier?

Most ad creatives come out of a handful of college programs or attend a portfolio school to learn the craft. I’m unusual in that I graduated from the University of Chicago with a nerdy liberal arts degree and was able to create a portfolio from the events and parties I planned at my first job. I was the Assistant to the Publishers/Promotions Coordinator at an alternative newsweekly.

Are there tasks you don’t enjoy or feel are necessary or otherwise didn’t think would be part of the work you do?
I was initially a little reluctant to mentor and teach others, but I’ve found it intensely rewarding. And no creative loves enduring round after round of client revisions only to have a project never see the light of day.

Have you faced specific hurdles/issues as a female in your chosen career?
No, absolutely not.

Do you feel like you have personal/work life balance? How do you find time to write for blogs on top of your career and family?
My husband is a freelance writer and SAHD. There’s absolutely no way I could manage to do what I’m doing and stay sane if he wasn’t caring for our girls, making dinner and doing the laundry.

What advice would you give young girls or women who are trying to decide what to do? Those who are trying to get into marketing or advertising?
Women actually outnumber men in advertising. The creative side might be a little more skewed toward men, but we have a built-in advantage in the consumer packaged goods arena because we are the target audience most brands want to reach.

It seems to me from reading your blog that you are relatively young, but ambitious and achieving a lot in your industry. Can you discuss what the idea of work ethic or discipline means to you and getting where you are? What else do you think contributes to successful professional careers?
Thanks. Young and ambitious is probably a pretty good description of me. I’ve always been very goal-oriented. Perhaps even to a fault. I found my husband in college, got married at 23, started a family before I was 30 and made creative director before 35. But I regret growing up and become responsible so fast. If I could do it over, I’d backpack through Europe, bartend or get a job teaching English overseas. Just for the hell of it.

Do you enjoy working with other people or alone? Does this fit what you’re doing? Would you recommend your career for an introvert or an extrovert?
Only extroverts need apply in advertising. We’re all a bunch of attention whores who like to have a good time.

How much does your career influence how you see things outside of work? I like your blog posts about product reviews or in-store merchandising. It seems like your training is very influential in how you see the world and work overlaps with your daily life. If it overlaps your daily life a lot, how do you feel about that? Is it generally positive or a chore?
I find marketing, product positioning and design endlessly fascinating. And being able to mine my own experiences for insights and the right language is helpful when developing concepts and communications.

What does career success mean to you?
I’m happy to stay a creative director for the next few years, but long-term I’d like to be some kind of highly paid Creative-Planner hybrid.

4 Responses to “Alma Klein: Marketing Mommy, Creative Director”

  1. Nicole February 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Great site – I love the layout and design. Can’t wait to read more.

  2. Amanda February 23, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Thanks, Budgeting Babe, Nicole! Long time reader of your site, too, so that’s wonderful to hear.


  1. Angela Dugan, « She Has Moxie - May 21, 2011

    […] things that led me to ask Angela is that her career and personal identity are so intertwined, like Alma Klein’s. I asked, how much does your career influence how you see things outside of work? If it overlaps […]

  2. Place « She Has Moxie - June 12, 2011

    […] attracted to interview answer this question and whether traditional office settings are required. Alma goes to an office filled with people she can brainstorm with, Mary Fran once converted a barn for […]

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