Alumni Spotlight: Ryan Dempsey
TexasMedia 2017 grad tells us more about his current livelihood at Zenith Media in New York.
Name: Ryan Dempsey
Major at UT: Public Relations and BFP
Graduation date: May 2017
Current Livelihood: Analyst at Zenith Media in New York, NY
What is your position at Zenith and what does your role entail?
I am an analyst at Zenith and I work on the Chase account. My role entails campaign measurement and tracking setup, data governance and validation, campaign optimization, and data technology integrations. To make it sound more exciting, I make sure our campaigns are performing accurately and help steer the conversation whatever direction the data is leading, while also working to automate processes with tech solutions! It is actually really exciting and constantly challenging in the best way.
How would you describe the company culture?
I was a little nervous moving to New York, especially coming from Austin, because it is a common conception that everyone is cutthroat and overtly rude. However, Zenith has an incredible company culture that I have grown to love! Everyone is extremely driven, and the environment is very collaborative as we all work together to be successful. Plus, the company invests a lot in its employees in terms of training and longevity. We also have a lot of great events and opportunities to do volunteer work and support organizations that support gender, race, and equality – not to mention Thursday beer hour at 4pm!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is when the client is excited and surprised by what we present from our data and insights. We are lucky to have a great relationship with the client so they really value our consult.
Were you in any organizations at The University of Texas at Austin and if so, what positions did you hold?
Shoutout to Comm Council! I was in the organization throughout my time at UT, and was lucky enough to be president senior year. I was also in Texas Tower for a hot minute. I really encourage joining professional organizations because of the exposure you have that will be useful for your post-grad roles. I am a much better public speaker from my involvement in Comm Council, which has helped me here. I also am able to turn on my people skills in a more formal way when meeting with the client, partners, and vendors.
How did UT impact your life and career? Did the Stan Richards School or any other organizations at UT help you with what you’re doing now?
I am really happy I landed in the Stan Richards School in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin (what a mouthful!) because what we learned helps a lot in project management, business communication, critical thinking, and problem solving. UT really cares about its students and is the reason I have my job through the alumni network. I quickly realized how prepared I was for real life, which put me at an advantage and propelled me to quickly integrate into my team. While I of course am putting in the work to learn some skills and technology college did not teach me, the overarching lessons have been essential in my success during my short time since graduation.
Which professors were the most memorable to you and why?
This is really hard because UT has such great professors. Short list would have to be Brad Love, Natalie Brown-Devlin, Lisa Dobias, and LeeAnn Kahlor - there are a lot more unnamed. All of these professors took the time to really educate me beyond the text and lectures. They all helped me develop my professional passions and were more than willing to put in extra time and help me set the framework. Whether it was Brad showing me the power of relationships and creativity, Natalie exposing me to the stories data can tell, Lisa granting me the opportunity to expand my horizons, or LeeAnn sharing her passion for research and the importance of seeing trends.
Why did you choose to study public relations?
To be honest I really did not know what public relations would entail other than I would use communication and writing skills, both of which have come in handy. Bold statement- but I think it matters less what you study and more what you do with it. If you sit around and let life pass you by, then you probably are not going to garner much success. However, if you take your expensive education by the horns (pun intended), and mold it to fit your interest, then you are in a good position post-graduation. And trust me, it will be here before you know it!
What do you love (or don’t love) about living in New York City?
Let’s start with what I don’t love because the list is short: hard to find good Mexican food, far from my family, and it’s cold. The pros far outweigh the cons and NYC really is an incredible place. Everyone here is so driven and intelligent, different cultures are abundant, which includes food, it is as expensive as you make it (which is good and bad), and there is always something to do!
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
I feel like I am learning so much every day, and my goals continue shifting. My short-term goals are to continue improving my data and visual storytelling and to continue learning data management tools for automation. My long-term goal is to hone my project management skills, so I can continue advancing in my role. I also plan to go to graduate school to get a Master’s in Business Analytics. I think I’ll be New York for a while too!
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
Outside of work I really love exploring the city and trying all of the food! I did not know what Sundubu was before moving, and now I am making everyone eat it (seriously go try it). I have also been trying to experience all of the exhibits, museums, and art installations so that I can be inspired and get dope posts for my story.
What publications/sites/newsletters do you subscribe to and find are most helpful in your occupation?
To be honest I should probably subscribe to more. Luckily, being a part of a such large holding company means we have a lot of internal publications that highlight what everyone else is saying, and I do read (skim) those. Other than that I read the New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, and TheSkimm. Maybe I will go subscribe to some analytical/advertising focused ones after writing this. Yikes!
What is the hardest part about your job?
The hardest part of my job would be limitations of data. Working in analytics you always want more data, and sometimes you are left in the dark depending on the client’s privacy concerns or the types of campaigns they are running such as awareness or upper funnel. However, I have been learning how to combat this by being creative in my insights and leveraging everyone else’s smarts (strategy, activation, etc.) to enhance the stories we tell with data! Plus I’ve learned to set better expectations about what can be delivered – you should definitely do that starting out in your career (your manager will appreciate it).
What is the most interesting project you have worked on so far in your career?
I think the most interesting project I have worked on is helping launch and build out a report for a major line of business that encompassed lots of different media. I was able to aide in the research and planning stage by helping mold the measurement plan and setting up the necessary tracking by way of floodlight activity. I then got to flesh out our reporting and connect with our partners to establish a cadence of success. Finally, I got to pull together our first round of initial launch and insights, and present it to the client. I definitely felt a lot of pressure but an extreme amount of gratification – which rocks!
Where do you see the industry going?
The industry is definitely changing a lot, and as such there too many opinions. Mine is that advertising will shift to me more of a consultant and execution firm that will offer services in media, creative, analytics, and corporate relations in one shop. I can see this trend already forming in our role, and with the consumer constantly shifting habits we need to all be in one place to make informed and timely decisions. We are hired to understand a part of the brand that is sometimes foreign to the client, so why wouldn’t we move toward more of a consulting stance on areas beyond advertising to increase their ROI and business success? That’s just one take, but we are all along for the ride.
What advice would you give to a current student in the Stan Richards School?
I would say all the cliché stuff like, time is what you make of it, and use your resources. Which you should. But being on the other side I can say two things really make people stand out: project management and always seeking clarification. It sounds simple, but if you start honing these skills they are a great foundation for the entirety of your work life. People nowadays try way too hard to be know-it-alls, but don’t you want to be the one asking smart questions to genuinely know your job backwards and forwards? Start applying that now by questioning the boundaries, successes, and failures of what you are learning.
Anything else you would like to add about your experiences?
Don’t stress out about you inevitably having to hold down a job because it actually kinda rocks.
Original Content Team Lead