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We@PS Podcast

Inquisitive Nature and Creative Mindset

- Welcome to another episode of "We@PS." I'm Halley Marsh, and joining me are my co-hosts, Nadine Bennet, and Nick Easlick. We are all part of the Global Talent Acquisition team and come together each month to give our listeners an inside look at the people behind Publicis Sapient. As usual, we're gonna start off our podcast with the bites section where we discuss recent news articles and our thoughts on them. Nadine, what do you have for us this time?

- So I've got an interesting one from "The Guardian." And I read this article recently and it really resonated because it was talking about the result of "brain fog" from lockdown and being in a similar environment day-to-day. And more recently I have really struggled to kind of construct sentences and thoughts like follow plot lines of amazing TV crime dramas. And I'm just like finding myself at this brick wall. And I think I said the bucks and notes of it instead of nuts and bolts. And I didn't even hear the mistakes that I'd made. So like debilitation and losing ordinary facility with my everyday kind of conversations. And I was speaking to my brother-in-law about it. And he said, "Well, it's like the koi carp." And apparently the koi carp sort of grows to its environment and adapts. And I thought, "I can't be alone in this, like there must be a lot of people feeling this way." And turns out this is a major, major kind of wave of challenge for so many people and scientists have looked into it. And given the isolation and kinda static nature of our work and play and interactions with family that we've had to endure, these complaints are exactly what the scientists had expected. So one powerful factor is the fact we have much less stimulus around us. So when we're waking up we're seeing sort of very little change. And I think as an individual, because I live on my own I might kind of experience this a little bit more than someone who's got children or a partner, but they said that there are certain ways that you can fix up your surroundings to try and increase your brain, which my boss would be really happy about if I could start doing this. And it's not so much kind of complete overhauls of your environment, but quite simply kind of shifting where things are positioned in your room, for example, following a different pattern. And I've tried to do that a little bit more but I just wondered because we've all got quite different setups. Maybe Nick and Halley, yours are more similar than mine but is this something that you've experienced, is brain fog real in your lives?

- I feel like I have a lot of stimulation beyond work. So it's maybe a little less for me but I can agree with like switching things up and it giving you a new sense of like life or energy. And I recently got a new monitor and a new like wireless keyboard.

- Wow!

- And from a work perspective totally changed my attitude for at least a few weeks. So that like has helped, I totally agree with that. But I also think the fog for me, 'cause I definitely have, I do know what you what you mean. And it's because we don't have those like organic things in our life, like usual that helped us to escape. So it was even little things like our commute or the water cooler talk in the office or even just social things that we haven't been able to really take a part of the last year plus. But I think slowly we've gotten out of that as COVID, and restrictions have lifted a little bit. I do know what you mean. And I just think that even for me, the switch up of something little may far more of an impact the last year than I think it ever has made in life before.

- Totally. What about you Halley?

- Well, first I think you're being way too hard on yourself. I wanna say that just for the record. I think that you're doing a fabulous job of communicating and I don't think that you need to be more gentle with yourself anyway, but I hate to be contradictory but I kind of feel the opposite of what this article talks about and maybe I, and somebody who does better with less stimulus and can focus more. So I'm feeling actually like I've hit more productivity more and and been able to be calmer than I ever have before. And I think some of it's because I could remove some of the extraneous things that I didn't need that extra either visual or auditory stimulus. So I don't know. I actually feel like I like that it's the same a little bit more .

- Yeah.

- Yeah.

- Nadine, by nature would you call yourself more of an introvert or an extrovert?

- Nick, I'm gonna give you one guess of which one do you think I might be?

- Well, it's funny 'cause I think you would say introvert, but I would actually say extrovert.

- Yeah, I am extroverted, yeah.

- Okay, good, good, good. And Halley is much more of an introvert. So I think that might have something to do with it that like maybe we need, you and I need a bit more, like stimulus to get us out of what that potential brain fog might be, whereas Halley is in the right setting, very extroverted. You don't go inward-

- Technically, I test as an extrovert believe it or not.

- Yeah.

- But I'm actually like an ambivert that's what they call me.

- I have about it.

- I'm like one inch over from introvert.

- I gotcha you. Yeah, yeah.

- Oh, I find it so fascinating, I really do.

- Yeah, I mean I think it could be partially that and I think it could partially be, there's this whole bunch of research about like being a highly sensitive person. And I'm not quite at that level where I would be like, a diagnosis is the wrong word, but where like I would officially be labeled as a highly sensitive person but I'm very close. So that it's like the louder things get like the more I can't focus for example or stuff like that. So like I'm very intentional. I'm very intentional about what stimulus I get and where I feed in creative things. And I don't know, it's-

- I find it so fascinating.

- I'm oversharing.

- No, I love and it's about dialing up. It's about dialing up what was in it. So if I could just maybe sort of tune into that a little bit more, that side of my personality maybe that would help in getting the benefit of this time and this opportunity, but we'll see.

- And I will say one more thing on this before we go to next bite is that I also think that what I have started doing differently is okay. We all know I'm a big reader, big nerd, all that stuff. I've started like mixing up some of the stuff I read to be drastically outside of my comfort zone. Like I just read a book that took place in Africa that I hadn't read. And so it was like totally new ideas, a totally new world to live in in my brain for a week. So maybe I'm doing it that way subconsciously.

- Yeah, what the listeners don't know is typically Halley's band is 16th century Russian literature going to-

- It's lightweight stuff.

- And totally different condard is wow

- On that note, Nick what do you have for us?

- All right. So switching gears entirely. So Silicon Valley companies like Google, Apple, Oracle and many others, they're starting to move further and further east into lower cost of living areas as they're growing and hiring and forever and always in pursuit of new and additional engineering talent. So earlier this week, Apple announced that they'll open a $1 billion campus in Raleigh, North Carolina to house over 3000 workers. So why Raleigh? Now, a few reasons, one cost of living is much cheaper. There's great engineering talent that are coming out of nearby NC State and Duke University and University of North Carolina. But the CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams also are connected to Duke. They both went to Fuqua Business School. And there are also a few other higher ups that had connections to that area that had also gone to Duke. So Apple announced that they're also expanding in other parts of the country beyond Raleigh. They're planning on building out an office in San Diego that will employ 5,000 people, 3000 in Culver City, near LA and then 700 in Boulder, all by 2026. And so Apple altogether says it's gonna add around 20,000 new jobs in the next few years. So we've seen shifts in recent years beyond Apple. They actually went to Austin a few years ago. They'll open up that office next year, but Google also they're opening up campuses in New York and LA and Amazon's opening up their HQ two in Arlington. So when I, a brief story, when I was at Google for a brief stint in 2012, the culture was dramatically different than what it is today. And at that time, Google was making a concerted effort to bring engineering talent to Mountain View locally. And they were actually downsizing and relocating engineers from other parts of the country. They all but closed their Atlanta office. A lot of people out east in Pittsburgh where they were shutting down that office at least their engineering side and then moving everyone to Mountain View. They wanted to relocate or have 80 to 90% of their engineering operations to be done in one central location. So fast forward, eight to nine years later that has obviously very, very different. And we now find ourselves in almost an entirely virtual world. So forget 10 years in the future. Let's just fast forward five years. So what do you think the working world is gonna look like when it comes to office locations and onsite offsite requirements for both these big Silicon Valley offices, but also companies like ours.

- I mean, I think I would predict two things. One, I would say it's gonna change. So whatever I predict today will probably be wrong in a month, but I think that we are going to have, it's gonna be, oh, there's some term and I can't think of it, but it's gonna be flexible. It's gonna be like in the middle where people can do some days in the office, some days at home, some days on site at a client, some days on vacation resort somewhere. Like I think that it's gonna be a lot more fluid and individualized and custom, but I also think that we are going to see a shift to where people are living. And that they're gonna follow the talent. These companies are going to go so if people start wanting to go warmer places and they don't wanna live where there's a ton of snow like where you and I live, that they're gonna open offices there because people do still want to get together somewhat, like they need to have an ability to convene. And even if it's only two days a week or three days a month. So that's my prediction, that I'm saying could absolutely be wrong in a month. What do you think Nadine?

- Yeah, do you know what? I agree with you. And it's this hybrid/blended working that we'll start getting used to. I think people do need connection but I also think that we'll no longer see as Nick is clearly stating, we'll no longer see this natural gravitation to the capital cities or major cities, but people will be able to access talent certainly country by country to a much broader remit than they they could do previously. 'cause if someone is living in a remote location but they are the best person for the job, I think now hiring managers are going to be much more open in having that conversation whereas previously there was a different perception. So I think it's gonna be a very powerful shift.

- Yeah, I agree. I think the whole sentiment around, we have to go where the talent is and not the talent coming to where we are because the talent will have options. In fact, a lot of these companies are saying to their current and future workforces that you can be remote. You can come into the office, of course, and you can live in one of the cities that we're at, but it also doesn't have to be that way, like Twitter had announced that any employee or current and future employee can be remote. And so I think that in order to compete, once one company, two companies, three companies start to do this, I think that a lot of others are just going to follow suit. So I think in general there'll be a bit of a hybrid that people can work wherever and whenever they want and that if they want to be remote, I don't think that's going to be much of a hurdle. In our business in the last year, we've hired more remote workers that aren't currently in cities where we have an office once we do go back to the office or whatever that looks like. We've hired so many more remote people than we ever have. And that I think is a continued trend because the whole talent crunch in the market and we have to be and go where the talent it lives.

- I think the interesting question for us and other organizations like us though is gonna be, how often then do you have to travel to be onsite at clients? And I think it's too soon to answer that question but if our competitors are still going onsite we're going to too. Like that's how it will work. So that will be an interesting thing to see how it plays out. Okay, next article. So I read an article that was in the "Harvard Business Review" recently with one of my favorite authors and organizational psychologist, Adam Grant. And I have not read his new book yet, but I plan on it. And since we're talking about my reading habits but this article was called Persuading the Unpersuadable. The example he uses in this particular article is Steve Jobs. And he talks about how Steve Jobs. I don't know how much you guys have studied him or read about him or seeing videos of him. But like he had a very strong opinion about how things were done at Apple and the thing that people don't and people study his leadership style and his brilliance a lot. But what they don't often look at is who he surrounded himself with. And he surrounded himself with people who actually knew how to change his mind. Now, it wasn't easy. But if you think about it, every leader has an if then behavior. So if they're around executives then they might be more humble if they're trying to manage up, If they are trying to get something done maybe they're a total tyrant. Like there are always some different triggers that you can see. So what Adam really talks about in his article is four different tactics that you can use to help persuade somebody who you consider to be unpersuadable.

- I need these in my life.

- Yeah. It's really a thoughtful strategy. So let me share. And the first one is, if the person's a no at all. So ask the no at all to explain how things work. The example that he uses in the article is Steve jobs was like absolutely like absolutely impo... Like he was digging in and fighting with the person who was manufacturing the glass for the iPhone, because he was like, "No, make it like this." And the guy was like, "That's not how glass works." Like, "Dude, I know what I'm talking about." So instead of fighting with Steve Jobs about it, what he did was he was like, "Okay, you explain it to me how you think the glass works and how you would manufacture it to do what you think." And once Steve Jobs got into the details and he realized that what he was asking for was, one, he didn't know what he was talking about, two, what he was asking for was impossible. He was able to be persuaded.

- What a broad strategy

- Nice job.

- Yeah.

- Ask me how to do my job.

- Literally nice work.

- Right, exactly, exactly. But he did it like, and if you read the word in the article, like he did it in a very nice way. Like he was like, "Hey, you know what? I know you're really smart. So walk me through what you're thinking, how you would build the glass maybe I'm not seeing something." Anyway so these are all pretty bold but the next one is give stubborn people control. So if you're working with a leader who's super stubborn about it or maybe for us, it's a hiring manager. I could see this being something that could happen. Give them control. So give them the ability to prove you wrong, essentially by giving them the control to make the decision and be like, "Okay, here are all the resumes, you decide." Don't listen to my advice. And then they'll start to be like, "Okay, I start to see it." The next one is praise a narcissist. So I loved this one because they were talking about like, so first of all, they were like, people typically think a narcissist has low self esteem and that's why they are that way. But in reality, it's that they're unstable. They have like unstable self-esteem. So what you have to do is give them praise, but do it in a different area than where you're criticizing them. So if you're criticizing them on like, I don't know the way they lead a meeting, give them praise and be like, "You're a brilliant strategist." However, when you lead these meetings, you're doing a horrible job. And here's why like-

- You give with one hand and take away with another, if you will.

- And pretty much, but it's like, and they said though this strategy actually works. And they give the example of somebody criticizing Steve Jobs. And it was like, "You did a great job with this but this was really dumb." And like they had to say it really bluntly like that to him. And it instantly got through and he was like, "You're so right, we will go fix it." And the last one is disagree with the disagreeable. Some people just wanna fight, and so give them what they want. And it says like engage in the conflict more directly if it's somebody who's like they need to have that engagement in the conflict in order to be persuaded, otherwise it will be like too easy. And they'll just never-

- They just want to hash it out.

- Right, that's like how they do it. So I thought these were great strategies for when you have somebody who's unpersuadable in your life. And I've already been thinking about different examples to you. So I don't wanna put you on the spot and ask where do you plan on using it since you said you need it in your life, but are there any that you think that you, but are there some how would you potentially use that?

- The first one asking- How would you do it? And I would do that actually humbly because maybe I'll learn something you never know. Maybe we'd meet halfway and get to a better solution but I definitely think I could dial up a bit of, "Okay, you tell me then how would you approach this differently?" I will absolutely use that.

- Yeah, I agree, actually that was where I went, asking questions versus giving advice. Because once you ask the question, you open yourselves up to learn something, but to also, you've already invited them into the conversation by asking them. The one thing too that I thought was the disagree with is with the disagreeable or to, I am fairly anti-confrontational, but when I feel confident about either knowledge of something or I feel confident in my position, then I will jump in and disagree with someone and fight for that. But if I don't, then that would be a really tough strategy to engage in. However, when I do do that and I am successful, I'm like on top of the world, whether it's with my four year old or a friend or something, I am on top of the world. So I think that's a really great one but that's one where in my, for me, just again, given my nature is like, be careful in going this route because I could also see myself engaging in it and then being like just totally steamrolled or not having it.

- Well, I think that's a good point though, Nick, because the whole purpose of this that maybe I skipped over too quickly at the beginning is to persuade somebody when they actually need to be persuaded. So if you don't have the conviction and it isn't something important, you don't need to do these things. You don't need to do it for the heck of it. Like it should be something important like whatever you would do with it negotiate with a four year old like, "You have to wear a coat, it's snowing outside." I feel very strongly about that.

- And then there are some times you just need them to learn to be cold.

- I have employed that strategy as well. Okay, that was great. Thank you guys for another great bite section. And now we'll move on to our interview. Today, Nick Easlick and I are joined by Sarah Alloy. Sarah is an Award-Winning Creative Director who has spent over a decade designing digital experiences and campaigns for global brands. She helps clients understand and prioritize strategy and design as a means to engage customers and accelerate brand adoption. Sarah loves to inspire her teams to push the boundaries of their thinking and to consider exciting new ways to deliver for clients. Sarah is passionate about mentoring new talent for an ever-changing industry and ultimately creating more human interactions in our growing digital world. Sarah, welcome to the podcast.

- Hi, Halley.

- So we believe that where we come from helps shape who we are now. So we'd like to start by asking all of our guests, where did you grow up? what were you like as a kid?

- Yeah, so I'm actually from Toledo, Ohio, so Midwestern.

- Hey, I like that right in my neck of the woods.

- Yes, absolutely and my mom's from Cleveland. So a lot of connections to the Ohio area. So as a kid I was really inquisitive. My grandfather had a junk yard, so I used to hang out in his junk yard and kind of just take things apart and try to understand what different car parts were and why things fit together. And just kind of like asking a lot of questions about the how's and why's of like why things work the way that they work and how they go together the way that they do.

- That's amazing, I wanna introduce you to my little daughter, you could probably answer a lot of the questions, so she's like, "How does this work?" I'm like, "I have no idea, ask Google." So that's great. So when you were a little kid, did you translate this into, what was your first job is where I'm going with this. Like I'm trying to picture like, was your first job like taking things apart, putting them together or what did you do? And I mean, your first paycheck not like your first like grown-up job

- Got it, yeah. So actually, interestingly, it wasn't related to any of that at all. My first job was a line cook at McDonald's. So very kind of random. I think I was about 16 at the time and one had opened up, I kind of lived in the countryside and one opened up nearby where I lived. And so it just felt like, "Hey, I need a job. It's there, it's kind of convenient."

- Great first job.

- Yeah.

- So what did you teach you? What's something that you learned?

- So honestly, I think it taught me how to work really hard. It's harder work than I think a lot of people realize that doing jobs like that are. I stood on my feet for like five to eight hours a day with like I couldn't sit, I was just always on my feet. And I also had a lot of empathy for people who do that work because obviously, I think as we move into our professional careers we start to take for granted some of that type of work that happens. And so having started there I think it just gives me a lot of empathy for that.

- I totally agree. So my very first job was Little Caesars. And it was the whole like if you're leaning, you're cleaning and so I'm sure McDonald's has had the same way. It was brutal work actually to date. I think one of my most difficult jobs-

- Definitely.

- Physically and emotionally, spiritually, maybe. So I wanna go back to the junk yard bit, 'cause that's just so fascinating. I think all of our grandparents all did cool things. Our parents did cool things, but I've never talked to someone whose grandparents worked a junkyard. Do you remember something that you built or something that you like, what that really like taught you or any other experiences that you can pull from from that?

- Yeah, sure. I mean, so it was my grandpa's company. He was in the automotive industry, his parents before him were immigrants to the country. So I think it was a way in for him to have a business honestly. And so I think they would always get a little bit nervous because there was a lot of stuff that could probably hurt the kid if you're just like tooling around in a junk yard. But it was just so fascinating to me to see all the different car parts and stuff like that kind of a little bit later on he narrowed his focus to cylinder heads. I don't know if either if you've ever seen a cylinder head, it's what's attached to the engine of your car and it allows the air flow into the car. And so it's like a giant like metal box with a bunch of valves on top of it. And they just look really cool. And so that was probably my favorite thing to play with because I used to just like push on the valves, like push them up and down to see kind of like how it would respond. It's kind of random. I think a lot of people don't even know what a cylinder head is, but that was kind of the coolest thing that I thought was in the junk yard for sure.

- I think I can tell you about maybe five different parts of a car and that's about it. I certainly couldn't identify more than that.

- But I feel like this is actually really important in the Midwest. Like I love knowing things like that. I've had more exposure to manufacturing in my life than a lot of people. And I'm always like, "Hey, you know what? This is actually like really good job security in the area of the country that I live in, because there is a lot of manufacturing here and there are a lot of people who use that." So that's super cool.

- Yep.

- So fast forwarding a bit, you've grown up as a kid, tinkering around your grandfather's junkyard building things, talked about your first job at McDonald's. So tell me more about, I noticed where you went to school, Go Blue.

- Go Blue.

- So how did you get connected with going to going to Michigan.

- After your mom grew up in Cleveland? I just want to understand here. As the Ohio representative-

- No understanding either, it's a great school. I've said this before on the podcast, I love the University of Michigan. Please don't hate me my Buckeye friends.

- I think that's the interesting thing about Slido where it's obviously Ohio, there's a lot of love for the Ohio State but because it's so north and we're so close to Michigan in Ann Arbor, there's kind of like a split allegiance I guess I would say between U of M and at Ohio state. And so I always loved Ann Arbor. I just thought it was a beautiful, beautiful campus. And actually interestingly, it wasn't my first choice school. I had gotten a full ride to a different school and I kind of was like, "I should go to where I'm being given the scholarship to go there." And my parents were kind of like, "You know, it's far away. We might like you a little bit closer, why don't you just take a look at Michigan." Let's just like go up there one last time. And so I did a campus tour and the person whoever they had doing the student tours did a fantastic job like shout out to U of M for their they're great student tours because it's definitely what convinced me. But I had gone to a small private high school. And so I was really concerned about the size of a giant public school and maybe getting a little bit lost. And they said I'll never forget that, "You can always make a big school feel small but you can't make a small school feel big." And so to me that really resonated with me and made me feel like, "Okay, I can come here. I'll be able to find my community, my people, I'll have a lot of different options." And it just felt really good. And so that's why I went with Michigan.

- So what did you end up studying there? What program were you in?

- So I was an English major. I love to write. It's like my first love before UX design is my current current love but my first love is always English and I had won like a bunch of writing awards in high school and stuff like that. So it was really a big area of interest for me. So English major.

- We were gonna be friends after this podcast just so that we're clear. My first major in college was novel, it was fiction writing. Like I was going to be a novelist. I ended up also. My current love is recruiting, helping people find jobs but I love that. And I think that you're not like, this is an interesting trend that we're identifying here, Nick, like women leaders at Publicis Sapient are English majors from the University of Michigan.

- Yeah, right.

- Like look at that. We're gonna talk books later.

- Absolutely.

- So how did you translate your English degree into what was your first job out of school?

- Yep. So I went to grad school also at University of Michigan and I went to the Library and Information Science Program. I thought I was going to be a librarian which natural transition from English-

- Absolutely.

- Yep. Ended up in a UX elective while I was in grad school. And that's kind of where the switch happened. Going back to that love of like taking things apart and understanding how things worked. UX felt like a really good mix between the kind of how do things work and figuring things out but also kind of the creativity. So it was like a good middle ground for me. So my first job was actually at Digitas. So another group agency at this point although this was before they had been acquired by group at the time.

- Got it.

- And so I wanted to move to New York City, that was like the place to go. And so I was like, "How do I get myself there?" And as Halley, you might know in recruiting I was having a really hard time getting companies in New York to want to move a junior person from Ohio to New York. They were not interested.

- Yeah, I've done that before.

- It was really hard and I wasn't getting any responses. And this was like a little bit before like LinkedIn was such a big deal and so I didn't have as many resources to network with people.

- Sorry. We're like you're going to Chicago, right?

- Yeah, right, exactly.

- I mean, when I recruited at the University of Michigan, we always took kids to Chicago.

- It was Chicago, some in a Detroit to the automotives to that point.

- Team Detroit or whatever.

- And I was like, "Nope, I'm gonna get myself to New York one way or another."

- How did you do it?

- So this is funny I was actually thinking about, excuse me, I was thinking about this a little bit. I don't completely remember how this happened but what I think ultimately it was was I using my college job board because the person that hired me was another Michigan alumni. And so I think he was executive creative director of the group that I worked for, Digitas. And I think he saw Michigan and it kind of keyed his interest. So definitely being able to using my college network ended up I think being the way that I got myself there and they helped me relocate which was really nice of them at the time.

- Oh, solid, beautiful.

- Very nice, okay. So you moved to New York and you're at Digitas and then did you stay there?

- So I didn't, I bounced around quite a lot in New York. I was in New York for seven years. I've moved around the country quite a bit in my time since then, but no, I ended up at, so the last company that I worked for before I left New York was actually Sapient. So in my current iteration this is my second time working at Sapient. And so I'm a boomerang. And for our folks who may not know that term, it just means I came back, I bounced back.

- Yep, I did too. It's no harm in that. It way back when. So where else have you been in the country?

- So I've lived in California. I did an internship at Oracle, it was my first professional internship there-

- Oh, nice.

- In North Carolina, in Charlotte. And then now in Washington, DC. And actually I wanted to tell you guys the story of how I got my job at Sapient 'cause it's actually like my favorite career story. So at time-

- The first time.

- Yes the first time when I was in New York. And so I was working for a small agency at the time and I had started tweeting about, so again, I was trying to get on Twitter. I'm like, "This is what professional people do. I'm supposed to be doing this.

- We used to think that about Twitter that's were professional people went.

- Yeah.

- Sorry.

- Before it was Google+, right? Shout out Google+

- So I'm on Twitter and what I was tweeting at the time was about women in the workplace because I was finding myself on a lot of male dominated teams at that time, there were not a lot of women in UX. It was actually pretty rare. And I was working on an all male team. So I started writing about what it was like to be a woman working in tech in the workplace and kind of what excellence looked like for me, and a Sapient recruiter saw me tweeting that and they reached out to me and they said, "Hey, I've seen your tweets. I think this is really interesting. If you're a UX designer, we're hiring UX would you potentially be interested in talking with us?" So I got my first job at Sapient off of a tweet.

- Oh, that's awesome. That's so cool.

- It makes me wanna go back on Twitter.

- Yeah.

- I know. And that's cool that it wasn't some like blind recruiter outreach of your background looks interesting, would you like to talk about blah blah position? So that's cool that it was so tailored and personalized to you and obviously they were looking at it. And so that's so cool, nice.

- Yeah, and I honestly, I like to tell people, like I think it's a really good example of like you genuinely never know where you might get a job from because like I would never have thought that that would have happened. I was very happy at that time at the company that I was working with and to your point, Nick, I think if they had reached out with something more generic I probably wouldn't have paid attention 'cause I wasn't looking. And so the fact that they had been following me that they cared about something that was really important to me is really important to me even today was really meaningful. So I think it's definitely a nice story just for people. 'Cause I think people don't believe that stuff like that happens, but I'm like, "No, I'm living proof it happens."

- I'm a firm believer that you'll always remember in life who you had as like elementary school teachers and how you got each job, how you felt about it and why you transitioned out of one job into the next I feel like I'll take those things with me for forever.

 

- Absolutely.

- So Sarah, you mentioned about you left and then came back. So tell us the gap in between the break in Sapient and then why you ended up coming back.

- Sure, so the gap in between that's when I went to North Carolina and I was ready to leave New York, at the time I had been there a long time and wanted to slow down a little bit. And the reason I left actually had nothing to do with Sapient. At the time we weren't working remotely obviously back then, there wasn't an office there. And so I would've loved to stay with the company but it just wasn't an option. So that is actually why I left it. It was nothing that happened or anything like that. And after a couple of years, so I worked for a tech consultancy, they were a management consultancy and they were interested in building out a more of a creative practice. And so they had some presence in Richmond with a creative practice and they wanted to bring that to Charlotte. So I was able to help them start their creative practice in Charlotte, ended up hiring 16 people and really growing that business for them which was a really, just always love growing things and helping people with jobs and stuff like that. So the fact that I was able to create a group that provided that many jobs and has sustained to this day I think is a really nice moment of my career that I like but I'd been there for a couple of years and got a call from some folks I knew in DC at Sapient. And they said, "Hey, would you ever think about coming back?" And I was like, "I love Sapient, let's talk." Absolutely like "Kind of what's going on. Where are we with our acquisition? Like what's happened, a lot of things have happened since I was with the company last." And so had that conversation end and it sounded like the right thing to do at the time. And so I agreed to come back and here I am.

- Yeah, and how long have you been back?

- It's been just over three years actually.

- Oh, nice, okay, that's so cool. So tell us about your current role.

- Sure, so I'm Creative Director of Experience. And so basically I'm overseeing a large account for a telco client. And basically I work in that program helping to ensure quality of the work that we do, helping to grow our teams and providing kind of the right insight, the right feedback. Also of course, selling new work and bringing in new business and that part of it is definitely a part of my role as well. But for me personally, I really enjoy the part where I'm working with our teams. So that's where I like to spend a lot of my time.

- Yeah, so you're part of our experience capability. What does experience mean to you, to Sapient? We'd love one more there.

- I feel like I should have like an answer ready. I would say so I think experience in a very tactical sense is user experience design, user interface design, anything that we do design work, but it's also kind of the bridge between the strategy. Customer experience and insights I think is what they call it now. And in engineering which is development. So kind of it sits between strategy and development and kind of bridges the gap between kind of those roadmaps and the plans that we make for our clients trying to help them figure out what they should be doing technology or development, being what we actually do, what we implemented and designed kind of being the bridge between those two things.

- That's the clearest picture I've ever gotten actually about experience. So that is super helpful 'cause I do a lot of stuff within engineering. And then strategy and consulting, but just recently a bit of CX and I, so that's the clearest. Thank you for that .

- They'll be repeating that over and over to candidates.

- I keep going back to the image. It floated around in LinkedIn for like a couple of years, but it was like this sidewalk that was like a very 90 degree sidewalk, but right in the middle almost in like a triangle way was this dirt path that everyone was going, they were going on the sidewalk, but they were going on the dirt path. And like the sidewalk was like engineering and like the dirt path that everyone was following was user experience. And I just thought, I keep going back to that image in my head.

- That's a really interesting image. I don't actually know that I've seen that but that's a really interesting kind of like metaphor.

- Yeah, I'll have to dig it out a bit.

- So when you think about the work that you've been doing here, is there a particular transformation project that you can talk about? Something that you've worked on either in the last like six months or even in the last three years? That's something that you're really proud of, where you're like "This is how I saw taking my experience work and how it really transformed something for a client." Obviously without sharing, oversharing any details.

- Sure, sure. So honestly, I mean the work that I'm doing right now I feel quite that way about, I think we have a really interesting opportunity to help our clients kind of with their speed to market and really thinking about what the products are themselves and how the customer is really using those products effectively. And it's just kind of a different way of approaching it. It's kind of, it's more agile, it's more lean. And so when I think about transformation, that's definitely comes to mind in that way.

- Creating some dirt paths for our clients.

- Creating some dirt paths.

- That should be a tagline of ours. Need a well-traveled dirt path.

- Maybe we should not be copywriters.

- No, no. You and I will stick to recruiting. Sarah, we need you on the front lines. So what's like a dream? Is there a dream client or brand that you've wanted to work with?

- Yeah, so this is a really interesting question. I think when I was younger I would have definitely said like Apple, that would have been like the peak, which is not to say that I wouldn't want to work for Apple today, but I think it's definitely more about the work that I do and less about the actual brands to be honest with you. So it kind of opens up a little bit because when I think about ideal brands, it's like less like, "Oh they have really cool name recognition or something like that." And more like, "What are they doing?" So again, taking it back to the junkyard days with my grandfather. Tesla is a company that I think would be really cool to work for. I love their in-car experiences. And obviously like the driverless driving that they do and all other things that are coming in the forefront of that, I think are fascinating. It really of like physical spaces and things like that. So I think it'd be really cool to do something in automotive and actually working with the car interface itself to begin.

- So Sarah, I'm curious, what kind of advice you would give to people listening? Like why would a person choose to work with Publicis Sapient from your perspective?

- Yeah, actually Halley, I interview people quite often and this was one of my favorite questions that I get from them. And the reason is I really think that Sapient is just one of the best companies to become truly excellent at your craft. And so I think that is something that is a bit overlooked like I think you know people are evaluating lots of different factors when they're thinking about where to work, but I always tell people especially for experience UX or UI design, if you wanna become really good at what you do come to Sapient, it's just that you hone your skillset here in a way that I haven't seen a lot of other places. And it's really just that I think, we get a lot of places that say that there's no egos and things like that, but I truly find that to be the case here and that just that people on teams really do want to mentor and coach and help teach. Especially if you're in a growth moment in your career, a fantastic place to be

- That's awesome. And a natural follow up question to that is, so for any prospective talent listening what advice would you give them? Someone looking for a new job here or somewhere else?

- Totally, I personally say always negotiate. And so I think it doesn't matter, your career stage. I'm a big proponent of just learning the skill of negotiation. And it's more than just salary and things like bonuses. I think that's what people focus on, but really learning all the different levels that you have at your disposal when you are getting a new job, absolutely.

- I think that's great advice and I would especially encourage women to do that because they don't always remember to, even though some days it can make my job harder as a recruiter. That's okay, I like the challenge. So Sarah, we'd like to end our interview with what we call the Sapient seven. We have seven questions that we ask every guest and I don't want you to overthink it. They're gonna be kind of like rapid fire. So you ready?

- Ready.

- Okay, here we go. First question, what is something new you have learned in the last 30 days?

- I learned how to hand crochet.

- That's awesome. What are you crocheting? Anything?

- I'm making a blanket for my best friend actually.

- I love that, I love that. Okay. Next question, what is one trend you're paying attention to?

- Just top of mind for me in the work that I'm doing and just in the world in general is connected environments and how we can bring those experiences together.

- Give me an example of the connected environment.

- Sure. Alexa would probably be the thing that people think about most. And then just thinking about how you expand that to your phone, your TV, your car, even things like-

- Fridge.

- You can place smart fridges, washing fridges.

- I want a smart fridge. I don't have a smart fridge, I want one. Okay, next, what something on your bucket list?

- So I love fashion and design as well as like UX design. And so I really want to launch my own shoe line.

- Really? What kind of shoes? All kinds or?

- So mostly focused on women's shoes. Although recently a friend of mine asked if I would do men's shoes as well. So now I'm thinking about if I could do men's shoes as well as women.

- Gosh, I love all you have like the best hobbies, like shoe design, crotchet, this is great. Okay, next, did you have a nickname growing up? And if so, what was it?

- So as you might imagine, Sarah's a little hard to nickname 'cause it's such a short name , but my middle name is Elizabeth. So sometimes I would get Sarahliz that's about the only one.

- More like when you're in trouble, I'm guessing? No, I'm teasing. So what is the most valuable thing you learned from your parents or family?

- Yeah, so my mom taught me actually that I should always leave a lasting impact anywhere I go. So any job I have, anything I do I try to leave an impact on the people and the places that I am.

- That's lovely. I just, oh, that's great. If you were on a deserted island, what album or artist would you take with you?

- So right now I absolutely love Doja Cat. And so anything by Doja Cat would definitely come with me.

- So good, so good. And last but not least by any means, what book are you reading right now? Or one that you've recently finished?

- So the one that I'm reading right now that I think is most interesting is actually in the industry it's called "Right/Wrong: How Technology Transforms Our Ethics" by a guy named Juan Enríquez which was a gift from another VP at Sapient gave to me. So I've been reading that.

- I love it. Thank you so much for sharing all of this. Sarah, this has been so much fun. Thank you for being here today. Before we let you go though, where can our listeners find you if they wanna connect or learn more, like email, LinkedIn?

- Absolutely, LinkedIn. I'm occasionally on Twitter even to this day. So, yep, definitely LinkedIn is a great place to start.

- That's awesome. Thank you so much, Sarah. It's been a real pleasure having you here.

- Thanks so much, Halley.

- Thanks again for listening to another episode of the "We@PS" podcast. Don't forget to subscribe in whatever app you choose, and check us out at careers.publicissapient.com. Until next time, I'm Halley Marsh.

- I'm Nadine Bennett.

- And I'm Nick Easlick.

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