Joining us from Pennsylvania is Uncommon Marketing Works CEO and Founder, Staci Cretu. Her fighting spirit saw the organisation succeed in the face of adversity brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The road was not easy; but Staci is proof that if you set your heart and mind to it, you can overcome all challenges. Welcome to this edition of Women In Marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, STACI. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, United States. I grew up in a rural area and had a pretty normal childhood with two working parents and a younger brother. I always had friends at my house non-stop and was a pretty normal kid until I turned 16 when I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE and almost died due to years of misdiagnosis.
My life and my family’s lives turned upside down for the next several years. Luckily enough, I had a great doctor that acted immediately and was able to save my life. I was sixteen, lost my hair due to chemo, gained 60 lbs in a week due to steroids, and was removed from school because I was too sick to go. I was able to walk at my high school graduation as I pushed through schooling at home.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
In high school, I was just trying to survive my autoimmune disorder. I didn’t have a normal high school experience like others. During my undergrad, I worked full-time while going to school full-time. Unlike other typical college students, I wasn’t going to parties; I was focused on one thing – making a living and finishing school in 4 years.
I graduated with an associate’s degree in Business and Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and Management. I had average grades as a student in both instances. It wasn’t until I went for my Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications did I “care” enough to graduate with a 4.0.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
I would say sushi is my favourite meal. Although I generally get enough to share, there are specific rolls that I would bite your hand off if you took one from me! I don’t eat it that much so, when I do, look out and do not touch my plate.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
- 1. Help my family out financially.
- 2. Invest it in my business/employees.
- 3. Invest it in stocks.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
Other than surviving a very serious illness at a very young age that I still struggle with and has defined me in many ways in my life, I wake surf. It’s where you surf behind a boat without a connection to the boat.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
I started my undergraduate degree in Accounting until I realized that I was not good at math. For some reason, I was so good at this in high school. College took it to another level that I immediately realized I couldn’t do it. My saying now is I’m a marketer, not a mathematician. I switched majors to Business Administration and started taking classes in marketing, sales and management.
While working full-time, I worked for a real estate company as a receptionist and did all of the marketing for the real estate agents. This is where I fell in love with marketing as I knew it then. After graduating, I started my first “real” job with a marketing agency which defined my career.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
#teamcoffee immediately upon waking.
I can’t function without it. Running my own business allows me the freedom to make my schedule available for how I want to manage my day. I make sure my schedule allows me to work out for 30 minutes every morning to help my stress levels and focus the rest of my day.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Last year was challenging for everyone. However, I wasn’t going to let what happened last year where I lost clients and had to lay off employees define me. Just like dealing personally with an autoimmune disease, when something in my life tries to define me, I go in the opposite direction. I buckled down working 10+ hour days and have quadrupled my revenue and went from 2 employees to 11 in exactly one year.
YOU HAVE A MASTERS OF SCIENCE IN INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
I completed my Masters degree online. Online education is therefore not an uncharted area for me. I talk to a lot of people, and although I see education changing, people still yearn for the face-to-face kind of learning. There will be more online programs and options for students however, I do not think in-person education will go away.
When I look at Coursera and Google Skillshop, these are continuing education and certifications rather than a university education.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
I’ve been working remotely since 2016; my entire organization has operated like this ever since. It has not affected my business. I, however, feel that remote work saves a lot of money for organizations. Not only that, for those that are disciplined enough, as I have experienced, you get so much more work done working at home.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
I provide my employees with a pretty flexible work schedule, as long as they are getting their work done and are available for clients.
2022 AND BEYOND
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
You will survive, you will be okay and live a healthy life.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
I’ve lived a lot of my bucket list items at this point in my life. I’m grateful for that.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not due to political affiliations but for forging her way as a woman in a landscape defined by men.
Coco Chanel – where she came from and how she built her empire
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Mademoiselle Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History via Audible.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
So many. Right now I’m watching Virgin River.
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
I don’t think I missed a calling. I’m living what I feel I was meant to do.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
I’d like to be remembered as being impactful for my clients, trustworthy and a partner in their business. I’d like to be remembered as someone who was able to provide employment and education to all of my employees.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
My friend who moved to Italy. We chat but I haven’t seen her because of the pandemic.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Learn from others. Find a mentor. Don’t think you know everything – provide your ideas and don’t be afraid to speak up.