Advertising alumna Andrea Brimmer has an impressive resume. She’s been named one of the 100 Leading Women by Automotive News and one of Forbes’ 50 Most Influential CMOs - more than once. She’s won numerous awards and and is an active philanthropist in the Detroit community.
Brimmer has also been the chief marketing and public relations officer of Ally since 2015. She oversees the company’s marketing, advertising and PR strategies and is responsible for the company’s commercials and banner ads, social media content, customer communications, sponsorships and brand presence at various conferences and events.
“I love my role because it’s extremely dynamic and fast-paced, and it touches every area of Ally’s business,” said Brimmer. “The variety of what I do keeps me interested, focused, excited and curious every day.”
Making Her Way
Like most college graduates, Brimmer began to reach out to contacts in search of a job directly after graduating with her bachelor’s in 1987. With her sights on the advertising and marketing field, she landed at Campbell-Ewald in Detroit, where she worked for more than 18 years.
“I think what helped propel my career was a combination of hard work, nurturing relationships and taking risks,” said Brimmer. “It’s important not only to network and know people, but to develop deeper relationships in order to support colleagues and peers throughout their careers. Treat people well.”
Though Brimmer has since made quite the name for herself as a CMO, she recognizes the value of her time spent at ComArtSci where both her practical and creative skills were nurtured.
“It was great having professors that had practical experience to learn from, they helped shape my direction and path forward and that was invaluable at a time when I was still trying to figure out my future in business,” said Brimmer.
She loved the real-world experience she gained, particularly in her advanced classes. While still a student, Brimmer was able to collaborate with a team in class to solve real-world marketing problems and present a solution to an actual client.
“[It] was awesome preparation for the career journey I was about to embark on,” said Brimmer.
Shattering Glass Ceilings
Only 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women today, but that hasn’t kept Brimmer from moving upward in her career. In fact, it has only made her more determined to find empowerment for herself and others.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing female leaders throughout my career, and I’m happy to share that at Ally, more than 50 percent of our executive council is female,” said Brimmer. “For young women pursuing leadership positions, I would stress the importance of mentorship.”
Brimmer recommends that women find a mentor, or several, who they can turn to to help navigate difficult decisions, especially in the business world. Learning from women who are leaders in your industry of interest can help you gain insight and guidance.
“Most importantly, just know that you can have a successful career and family life,” said Brimmer. “As women, we too often strive to be perfect at everything, it’s okay to give yourself a break, ask for help and focus on priorities that are important to you and those you love in your life. When you get comfortable with this idea, you will have the peace of mind to succeed as a woman in business.”
Leaving a Legacy
As a successful businesswoman herself, Brimmer has a lot of experience to pass on to others. She wants students to remember to stay flexible and curious as they begin to settle into careers.
“There are so many different roles you could pursue, and what you start out doing may not end up being permanent,” said Brimmer. “If you’re interested in exploring something or learning about something new, take opportunities to follow those interests, to ask people about their roles and responsibilities, to take on projects where you can learn a new skill.”
Just because you’re graduating doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. The best thing you can do is take your college-based foundation and use it to make a splash wherever you find yourself post-grad.
“ComArtSci is an amazing [college] that will allow you to utilize such a tremendous variety of skills that can propel you to deliver great and lasting work,” said Brimmer. “Enjoy the journey.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets