Women Communicators of Austin is excited to welcome our 2016-2017 president, Maria Cammack! As the new president of WCA, Maria has many new things in store for our organization. While many of our seasoned members may already know Maria, there may be a few things you didn’t know about her.
Originally from Denmark, Maria first moved to the U.S to study Mass Communications and Advertising at Townson University in Maryland. Equipped with a degree in Marketing Economy from the Danish Business Academy, during Maria’s senior year at Townson University, she was lucky enough to begin her professional career as a strategic planning intern at a large agency in Baltimore.
Maria’s passion for education doesn’t stop there however. She studied Business Anthropology at University of North Texas Graduate School and to stay updated on the design and research strategies, Maria also takes online classes on UX design and research strategies.
Currently, Maria serves as the Director of Marketing Research and Strategy at MGH, headquartered in Maryland. Aside from her professional career in the advertising field, Maria also has some personal hobbies and interests, including doodling and painting. She says it is a fun creative outlet and a great stress relief. Maria also loves to go hiking with her dog and enjoys exploring Austin.
In our interview with Maria, we asked her how she started out in the communications field and what inspired her most. Maria shares some excellent advice on how she maneuvered her way through the communications field and gives us some interesting insight on what leadership means to her both personally and in terms of what will be in store WCA this year.
How did you start out, and what drew you to the communications field? What do you love most about working in the communications field? Are there any specific industries you are focused on?
I always knew I would end up in the communications field. When I was younger my goal was to become a journalist and an author. I have always loved stories, reading them, creating stories and sharing other people’s fascinating adventures. I was later drawn to marketing and the creative field of advertising where storytelling also plays a key part.
As a brand and marketing strategist, I consider myself both a translator and a storyteller. I gather consumer insights and help translate and tell their stories to both internal teams and our clients. These consumer insights help us find the sweet spot where a brand’s story connects with its target audience.
What have you learned about leadership, and what is your advice for WCA members seeking a leadership role in the communications field?
Leadership comes in many forms and is not always attached to a specific job title. Leadership is about focusing on the why and what we overall want to accomplish as an organization and supporting people and initiatives that will help accomplish those goals.
My advice to members seeking a leadership role is to think beyond your own role and responsibilities and instead about the bigger goals and what you can do to help your organization and your colleagues achieve them. Don’t be afraid to take initiative, share ideas and take on responsibilities that might feel out of your comfort zone.
Volunteering with WCA is an excellent way to improve your leadership skills and work on areas you might not have an opportunity to hone in your current position. It’s a safe place to try new things, gain new skills and ask questions while making valuable connections with peers.
I would also encourage members to seek out communications professionals in leadership positions and learn from them. WCA has a great mentor program offering free career guidance for members and a chance to connect with some great communications leaders. Whether you are seeking answers to a few key questions or more long-term mentoring, we can find you a good match.
What do you love most about being president of WCA, and what are your goals for the coming year?
I am very excited to take on the role as President for the 2016-2017 board year. I joined WCA right after I moved to Austin in 2011 to make new connections and help with my professional development. Being a member of this organization has given me much more than I initially hoped for including new friendships and learning more about my own capabilities.
We are ending a great board year under Lisa Elmore’s leadership where we developed our new mission, vision and core values, introduced an updated logo for our organization as well as several new programs for our members. I am looking forward to continuing this great work and now that we have a strong brand platform, focus on ways to even better engage all our diverse members while increasing awareness among communicators in Austin about the many programs and services WCA has to offer.