Behind the Headlines With Sherry Scott
Change doesn’t happen all at once – it takes time. And it takes the right team to help you get there. At Gagen MacDonald, a Chicago-based strategy execution consulting firm, Sherry Scott and her team help Fortune 500 companies drive organizational change through strategy, culture change, leadership and employee engagement and change communications.
Here, Sherry answers a few of our questions on what constitutes successful PR, her new role as president of the firm and what she’s learned throughout her career.
How did you get your start in PR?
I started my career on the corporate side. I ran internal communications for Navistar at a time of tremendous business and culture change for the company. This seminal experience helped ground, connect and inspire me to the power of how companies can drive change from the inside out.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as president of Gagen MacDonald?
I hope to continue driving convergence in our thinking and approach. Our clients face rapid, complex change every day – it never stops for them. As we help them address the human struggle of change, focusing on a single dimension – communications – doesn’t fully meet our clients’ needs. You also must tap into an organization’s business strategy, leadership, culture, brand, history and values. Bringing this convergence approach to our work means developing smart, convergent thinkers.
I also want to continue to lead and support our tremendous culture, which is built on a laser-focus on clients, coupled with industry leadership, high accountability and generosity of spirit and action.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
The proudest moments I experience are when I hear from our clients how much they love our team. Many engagements involve a large number of consultants, and our clients can’t believe how so many individual team members with different personalities all show up in such a consistent “Gagen” way. I’m proud to lead a team full of smart, strategic thinkers who are solution-oriented and people you’d hang out with for fun.
Do you have any daily rituals that keep you going?
I’m a huge believer in the power of gratitude. If I’m feeling stressed or down, the fastest way to snap out of it is to focus on what or for whom I’m grateful. I also find that gratitude inspires limitless possibilities and inspires me to dream about what can be.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Whatever my two teenage girls tell me to do! Seriously, it’s spending time with them (or as much as they will allow me to) and helping them develop to be strong and confident young women. We like to travel and have had a lot of great experiences together.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
Snapchat. I love how it captures just a fleeting moment in time and pushes you not to take yourself too seriously.
Do you have any advice for those looking to begin a career in PR?
It’s no longer sufficient just to have “traditional” PR skills like writing, functional expertise in communications. Now communicators must be business people first. I’d suggest taking business classes, learning how to read a balance sheet and getting a handle on how your company actually makes money. If you’re still in school, don’t wait until you graduate to gain relevant work experience.
Rapid Fire Round
1. My daily newspaper of choice is… Huffington Post.
2. My guilty pleasure is… searching for the perfect guacamole.
3. My most prized possession is… my grandmother’s ring. She was orphaned during the 1918 flu epidemic. She had to make her way independently in the world, went to college when she was 16 and graduated with a business degree. She was a truly strong woman.
4. The characteristic I most dislike in people is… a lack of compassion and humility.
5. The thing that gets me up in the morning is… the opportunity that today could be the best day of my life.
Image via Gagen MacDonald, Photo by Andrew Collings.
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