Name: Megan Driscoll
Job Title: Founder & CEO of EvolveMKD
College Name/Major: The University of Chicago / Public Policy
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
There is no such thing as a typical day in my career, which is partly why I love it so much! One day I could be working on a media event, the next day sitting with clients, discussing their business objectives and the following day, I could be accompanying a celebrity on a media tour. My career at its core is to manage the reputations of our clients and their brands, both off and online. As a business owner, I am also responsible for creating and fostering a healthy and performance-based work culture and making sure my organization is financially sound and operated efficiently.
What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is having clients that treat you as an equal member of the team, and let you “behind the curtain” to really get a sense of how their business works and what’s important to them. It’s no surprise that those are the clients that we also tend to do our best work for.
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?
My first job in public relations was after I graduated from the University of Chicago, when I chose to work as an intern at Edelman in Chicago, rather than take a full-time offer from Merrill Lynch. I graduated college in 2002, which was during an economic recession, so companies coming on campus to hire groups of graduates dwindled. This prolonged time to look for my first job ended up being a blessing, as it forced me to really think about what would motivate me at a job and what characteristics it needed to have. I went back to the various companies I had interned for and one of my bosses asked if I had ever thought of trying public relations. She thought it would be a good fit for me and set me up with a friend of hers that was a VP at Edelman. I went on an informational interview and loved what I heard! I applied for an internship and the rest is history!
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
I am consistently shocked when women do not take full advantage of 401K match programs their companies offer. We offer a match program at EvolveMKD that matches up to 5 percent of contributions and I just told all the women on my staff that not taking advantage of the 401K match was like them saying no to a raise I was offering. Women should take advantage of any and every program that their employers offer that provides them with “free” money. I also have a quote from Michael Jordan on the wall in my office that talks about how you have to expect something from yourself, before you can expect anything from others. I think that it’s important for people starting out (and those that have worked a long time) to realize they have to be accountable to themselves and hold themselves to a high standard.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
Staffing at an agency is an ongoing challenge, and it has been at every agency I’ve ever worked at. Early on, I thought that having a roster of senior level consultants would be a strategic, long-term hiring practice, so I could keep overhead down, but still have access to senior talent. With the exception of one of those consultants, I learned that in client service, you really do need staff that is full time, and is really invested in both the clients and the company, since it is their full time job.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
I think the most surreal moment was when I opened my doors and my international, pharmaceutical client decided to join me. I had no office space, no staff and was leaving a company that had been around for almost 30 years. On paper, that company should have never come with me, yet they did, because of the work that I had done for them over the past year prior to my departure. To this day, I still find that unbelievable and I am so grateful of their belief and faith in my business.
What do you look for when considering hiring someone?
In terms of finding talent, we rely heavily on referrals and word of mouth – the best employees have come from people that we respect and admire. We also look for candidates that not only have the skillset, but also fit our culture, which is really important. In terms of important characteristics, I want employees that are proactive, positive, team oriented and are looking for a career, not a job.
Our media activities – both social and traditional – also help elevate our team with prospective candidates. A recent interviewer noted that she saw a ton of social posts from influencers and media about sweet treats they had received from Evolve touting sayings from impactful women – and she knew immediately Evolve was where she wanted to work, that our values matched her passion.
We also believe that to get the best employees we have to offer them the best. We offer industry leading health insurance coverage, unlimited vacation, profit sharing, fully paid cell phones, paid maternity leave, flexible working hours for staff with children and even an onsite beauty room salon where employees can have their hair blown out, makeup and eyebrows done.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
Look for an internship program and people that want to put the time in to teach and demonstrate. Our internship program is really a two way street in terms of learning. We give our interns a taste of the PR and social media world, and they in turn, definitely educate us about the priorities of the next generation coming up. We’ve learned from our interns what they are really valuing in a workplace and a culture, and as the owner of the company, I always feel being “ahead of the curve” on things like that is important, to ensure that our company keeps evolving.
What's the one thing that's stood out to you the most in a resume?
I always am impressed when someone has a demonstrated commitment to philanthropy – either they’ve volunteered somewhere consistently or they’ve done some pro-bono work. Philanthropy is one of our core values at EvolveMKD and if someone demonstrates that already, I know they will be a culture fit. On the negative side, anyone’s resume that has grammatical or formatting issues or spells the name of the company wrong, does not get a second look.