Alumni Q&A: Interview with Communication Alumna Stacey Kogler

Stacey Kogler, Communication B.A, has flourished in the world of advertising, moving from junior ad agency employee to vice president with clientele such as BFGoodrich Tires. Now, the mother of two reflects and offers advice to ComArtSci students.

At Michigan State University, we invited her to share her experiences in a Q&A with ComArtSci.

Q. When you look back at your life and work so far, what gives you the most pride?

A. Raising two great kids. But, my career and personal goals were connected. The more I could accomplish professionally, the more I could do for my family and others. When you work hard and achieve results for your clients, your company profits, your teams learn and grow, and you likewise, grow – careers blossom. With that success, the financial aspect enables goals: quality of life improvements, ability to own a home, travel, give back to the community, or causes of your choosing. Early in my career I was fortunate to become part of a long running, highly successful ad campaign. 

Our clients were really intelligent, research driven people who immersed themselves in knowing their customers and delivering multi-channel products that anticipated trends and demands. Servicing that business took me from West Hollywood, California to Munich, Germany. The team and experiences were all amazing. Clients, agency teams became family. Consumers could not get enough of the ads. They resonated and were incredibly creative. They changed the tire category for many years. The thrill of seeing that work in the marketplace made us all proud.

Q. What inspires you to work toward your goals and accomplishments?

A. The desire to make my Mom and Dad proud motivated me to work hard early on. They gave me the tools and advantages to get ahead by having a strong work ethic and setting guidelines and high standards. Plus, they taught me the ability to accept short-term sacrifices to achieve long-term goals. The ability to do the same for my kids became added motivation.

Q. Could you describe a day in your professional life?

A. During my time working at ad agencies, there was no typical day. A day in my life was (happily) endlessly changing. Staying organized and prioritizing helped facilitate success. Delivering on a brand’s marketing and advertising needs involved assessing competitive ads, developing strategies, reviewing creative concepts, presenting campaign recommendations, shooting, producing ads, trafficking ads, analyzing post media buy reporting, or managing client financials. No two days were ever exactly the same. Kept things interesting.

Q. What are some of the greatest challenges working in your field?

A. Managing successful relationships. Client/Agency relationship tenures have shortened. Business turns over more rapidly and few clients work exclusively with one Agency of Record. The dissemination of business across multiple agency partners requires account management to act as both leader and collaborator in order to minimize disruption for clients who expect partners to work as one. Staying current on the high volume of constant new emerging trends – data, technology, creative, production, media, business solutions, talent management, etc.

Q. What would you consider to be the defining point in your life or career?

A. In my career, when I was promoted to a Vice President, company officer having served on one piece of business, promoted from entry level. I knew I’d earned the confidence of the agency’s owner, and as well, the confidence of my client to best lead and represent their brand. My parents were really happy. I would say choosing Michigan State was a close second. Without the education I received, I would have had a difficult time knowing what to ask of my career, and how to really enjoy it. I was also fortunate to make long-lasting friendships at MSU.

Q. What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?

A. Avoid Surprises. Our BFGoodrich Tires client John Hargrave provided the agency team with a framed copy of the brand’s service expectations. Open communication including occasions where we faced obstacles - helped us overcome them. I have tried to keep that top of mind throughout life.

Q. What opportunities did you have at MSU or ComArtSci that helped you get where you are today?

A. MSU offered the perfect collegiate experience. It’s a beautiful campus filled with interesting, diverse faculty and students. The selection of courses in ComArtSci majors and electives provided a customized education. Greek life made a big school feel smaller and more intimate – for me. Big10 sports unified, generating excitement and pride. The ComArtSci building was filled with opportunity and advanced technology helping prepare us for successful career experiences.

Q. How do you give back to your community or motivate others to work toward the common good?

A. If you are attentive, you can make a difference every day. I’ve trained and promoted over 200+ multi-generational team members. There is a great personal reward in seeing someone’s talent, potential, and in some small way, helping them make the most of it. Furthermore, if you help people see the value of steering together, while making sure their voices are heard – common goals are more easily embraced and achieved. Recognizing people is critical, too. Helping them know they are valued goes a long way. On a personal note, I have specific charitable causes I support, Capital Area Humane Society, ASPCA, Michigan Animal Rescue League. The work these animal rights activists do is a labor of love.

Q. What are your future plans or career goals?

A. I’m currently consulting and interviewing after having been displaced from the advertising industry like others in Metro Detroit. My next career goal is to find the right company to share my experience and grow with.

Q. What advice would you give to MSU and ComArtSci students?

A. You are your own brand. Develop an action plan to do what you love. Establish career and life objective(s); develop strategies and tactics to achieve them. Document and monitor your progress. Use a timeline. Adjust and optimize. Budget. Reward yourself for accomplishments along the journey. Know that obstacles are often your greatest assets. Overcoming obstacles builds character and makes you even more interesting, skilled and knowledgeable than you were before. Don’t fear them. Network. Find a mentor, or multiple mentors for multiple topics that interest you. People like to share their knowledge and they also have many things to learn from you.

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By John Castro