Fall 2019

SPOTLIGHT by Kelly Williamson I n the age of transient career trajectories and company loyalties, I did the opposite—I joined APCO Worldwide as an intern in 1996, and rejoined the firm in 1999, celebrating 20 years this year. Although there have been countless memorable moments in my journey at APCO—starting as an intern to being named the President of North America last year—nothing has made me prouder than reading an essay authored by my daughter about what I do. As a working mother, and as an entrepreneur working to launch and build APCO’s presence in Raleigh, North Carolina, I have wondered many times in the past, whether I have been showing up enough for my children—a common conundrum for working mothers. However, showing up can ultimately happen in a variety of ways and when I learned how my daughter described me, I knew I was doing just fine. Working at APCO, the world’s largest majority women-owned communications firm, has given me a clear picture of what is possible, and it has been an honor to be a part of that possibility for more than 20 years. During my APCO journey, I have ventured into the unknown many times: from participating in the first global exchange program and moving to Raleigh as APCO’s first telecommuter, to eventually launching our Raleigh office through organic growth with my presence in the market and a lot of grit. Throughout my time at the firm, I learned what it takes to create a productive and accepting work environment. Growing an office is difficult; although my experiences may not be unique or relevant for all businesses, here is what I have learned along the way. Business is about fostering real authentic relationships . As consultants, we are always pitching, but the majority of our work has come from people who trust our advice to engage us at high impact moments. Attract talent that genuinely cares. This business is about client services, and we need people who care, in every sense of the word. If you can find people who care deeply about their work and the people around them even during the toughest moments, you’re operating from a common ground based on shared principles. For us, that meant going into local colleges and universities to find the people who wanted to do impactful work, cared deeply about their community, and had the ability to bring APCO’s global work to the local level. Structure a team inspired by the uncertainties of tomorrow. We must always prioritize keeping the rhythm of the business that propels us forward, from managing overhead to sustaining strong client service. At the same time, teams must find joy in dreaming about what we can achieve together and have the passion to create that future. Kelly Williamson APCO Worldwide From an Intern to North America President: Five Lessons I have Learned Along the Way I have wondered many times in the past, whether I have been showing up enough for my children—a common conundrum for working mothers. However, showing up can ultimately happen in a variety of ways and when I learned how my daughter described me, I knew I was doing just fine. 64 enterprising Women

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