Agency Directors at Rodgers Townsend, share advice

Who run the world? GIRLS

International Women’s Day invites us all to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of women around the globe – and within our own organization. Our executive team consists of 10 strong, successful women from diverse backgrounds, each bringing a unique perspective and set of experiences. And this year, more than ever, we recognize the need to foster support and community, from one generation of female professionals to another. So we asked each of RT’s female directors, in her own words, what advice would you offer to your 22-year-old self, just starting out in your career?

“Remember that what makes you different makes you special. And soon, you will find your people.”

-Kay Cochran, Group Creative Director/Copywriter


“Ask for help when you need it. No one expects anyone to have all the answers. Too many times people are afraid to ask for help because they might seem weak but the truth is – people want to help out others – it’s in our nature. But it’s also in our nature not to force help on someone else.”

-Cheryl Sparks, Director of Production


“I would say a couple of things: first, that you can’t be naïve that, in business, you have to figure how to play the ‘game’ of being a woman in the workplace. And second, you should always know that you can ask for help, and be unafraid to delegate.”

-Debbie Steppig, Director of Direct Marketing Production


“Have a voice. Be bold, be brave, be heard.”

-Patty Ivey, Account Director


“1. Have more fun and try to have a life outside of work. 

2. Believe in yourself. You are worthy. You got this.

3. Reject the myth of the Strong Black Woman who has to bear all the burdens like the mule in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

4. Cherish the work-place sisterhood.

5. Don’t spend all day Saturday in the beauty shop or at the office.”

-Crystal Merritt, Director of Account Planning


“Learn to listen. You’ll uncover insights, better understand concerns and opportunities will present themselves. Oh, and ask questions – smart questions. You work with talented people with rich experience (both clients and agency colleagues), soak up as much as you can.”

-Laura Duplain, Account Director


“Be kind, and treat every person – no matter their role – with a spirit of collaboration and inclusivity. Embrace bold lipstick. Talk less, listen more, read a lot more. Invest in a ‘forever’ bag that can hold a laptop, a pair of flats and an umbrella. Say yes to every opportunity and every project, even when you’re too busy already. And most importantly, understand that every job has its ups and downs, its challenging moments and rough days. But if you work with people that you love, a team that becomes your tribe, then you’re super lucky – and you should do everything you can to enjoy every day with them.”

-Laura Yarbrough, Account Director


“- Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter when you’re 40. I promise.

– Don’t burn bridges. Advertising is a small, small world. 

– Continue to self-educate yourself after college. 

– Clients are people, too. Treat them that way. 

– Experiences outweigh objects.”

-Suzanne Lange, Account Director


“Relationships are the foundation for everything. In a way, it’s more important than the work itself, because without strong partnerships internally and externally – the best work won’t ever be created or sold in. The key to strong relationships is simple: sincerity + trust + the golden rule. And learn how to be brave enough to be honest with yourself and others about your mistakes so that you can learn from them. It will create an atmosphere where it is okay to fail. Without failure and honesty, you won’t experience growth – personally or with your team.”

-Melinda Christman, Director of Digital Production


“Don’t be afraid to use your voice. You have a point of view that will be valued and respected. And don’t worry, you won’t have to wear pantsuits your entire career.”

-Carrie Muehlemann, Director of Talent and Agency Relations