From Intern to Leader: Laying the Groundwork for Career Advancement

Tracy McCrory

Across all industries, women are advancing in their careers and driving innovation and change. It’s no different in the field of marketing. A four-part LinkedIn article series looked at today’s modern marketer and how the role has evolved over the years.

Data in the article series showed 60% of the marketing roles in North America are currently filled by women, with 53% accounting for director-level or higher positions.

At DKY, our staff gender is split 50-50, with smart, experienced women who contribute at all levels of the agency, including in key leadership roles. One notable leader is Tracy McCrory, who is the vice president of project management and a member of DKY’s executive leadership team (ELT).

McCrory is a pivotal part of the Winnebago client service team and the master behind keeping important enterprise and product marketing projects moving forward.

With 20 years under her belt, McCrory shares insights on her personal leadership journey, role models who have influenced her and a few important lessons she’s learned along the way.

Learning and Gaining Confidence from Experience

Fresh out of college, McCrory began her career as an intern at a local advertising agency. She recalls feeling overwhelmed by the scope of work and talent around her, but quickly realized others were also learning and growing everyday as well.

McCrory’s confidence grew during these early years, and she eventually found a perfect fit in project management. This role tends to draw more women than men, however, it is well suited, McCrory says, to anyone with a knack for multitasking, planning and the ability to visualize a project path. It’s also essential to possess the right temperament: a cool head in the face of stress and uncertainty.

Women Project Managers throughout History

Some of the most influential women in history were project managers in their own right. Eleanor Roosevelt, for example, wasn’t content to stay idle in the background during her husband’s presidency. She visualized a better future for women, children and the poor, and through her activism and skilled messaging, the U.S. enacted much-needed political and social change.

A more recent example is Katherine Graham, the first woman publisher of a major American newspaper, The Washington Post. Graham wrote in her memoir that she had no female role models and had difficulty being taken seriously by many colleagues and employees. She even admitted to lacking confidence and distrusting her own abilities. Graham plunged into the role, nonetheless, and went on to become a pioneer in journalism and a champion for freedom of the press.

Project Management at DKY

DKY understands the importance of project management in achieving success for clients and internal teams. It’s why every account is assigned a project manager to monitor internal resources and individual work capacity and help keep client deliverables on time and on budget.

McCrory oversees about 20-40 projects at a time, relying on project management software and in-person communications to anticipate roadblocks, address resourcing challenges and keep projects running smoothly. As a member of the ELT, she shares insights from the agency’s other project managers to help ensure every team is set up for success.

“It’s gratifying to work for a company that values the insights and contributions of project managers,” says McCrory. “I take pride in my role on the ELT, bringing to the table advocacy for work-life balance and a focus on future needs. In this way, I serve our clients by ensuring my team has the information, time and resources they need to do their best work.”

Role Models

McCrory attributes her success, in part, to multiple role models she’s encountered along the way. She notes:

“Twenty years ago, when I was just starting my career, I witnessed first-hand how women had to fight for a seat at the table. They had to fight for respect from other leaders. Their hard work and resilience inspired me. But I was most impressed with their uncompromising character.”

McCrory learned that you can lead with kindness, consideration and competence, while retaining both empathy and authority. She observed other women leaders prioritizing both family and leadership, knowing when to say no and how to defend their teams to protect work-life balance.

“I feel fortunate to have worked with strong women throughout my career,” says McCrory. “They led by example and proved that with support, women can have rewarding careers and personal lives.”

Lessons Learned

McCrory is accustomed to tracking progress toward goals, and that includes her own personal and professional ones. She’s learned many valuable lessons from her time in school and in the workplace; chief among them is to “visualize where you want to be in 10 years and consider the micro decisions you’ll need to make to get there.” Then, she says, “Ask for what you want, because no one will know unless you tell them.”

Fortunately, women like McCrory are leading by example and showing what experience and confidence can accomplish.

To learn more about DKY’s marketing services and project management team, please contact us.

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