Evolve has been lucky to have Rachel Fryefield as a Communications and Media intern this summer! Rachel Fryefield is a senior this fall at the University of Michigan, majoring in Psychology and Communication & Media.
Rachel's writing talent, online marketing experience and commitment to team work have been an enormous help to us this summer!
A big source of inspiration? The example set by her mom, marketing executive Lauren Fryefield. Read Rachel's interview with Lauren to learn how she's balanced career and family over the years, the important role her network has played, and how she's found purpose in her professional life!
Name: Lauren Fryefield
What do you do + where do you do it? I am currently the Chief Marketing Officer of WorldStrides, the leading educational travel and experiential learning company, offering transformational programming for children in 3rd grade and beyond. I work out of offices outside of DC, as well as in Charlottesville, VA. But I am currently working virtually from my home in New Jersey.
When did you discover an interest in your current job/ field? Growing up I was an avid photographer, but I was also interested in business. So I was drawn to marketing as a way to combine both my creative and strategic sides. In my career, I’ve always worked at companies that market services, as I’m fascinated with creating meaning and value for intangible products that are delivered through people.
What are the most important soft skills necessary for a career path like yours? Being a good communicator is a necessary skill. You must be able to write and edit well to ensure that the words you choose communicate your intended meaning and are impactful.
In marketing, words really matter. Also, being a good verbal communicator in order to influence people and gain support for your ideas is important.
What is the most challenging part of your job and why? The most challenging part is managing a large team. You have to try to keep everyone motivated and on strategy, while at the same time, deal with numerous personalities and individual conflicts. Misunderstandings are inevitable when people work together. They need to be resolved in a constructive manner recognizing that you can't control other people.
What’s the professional accomplishment you’re most proud of? One of my greatest accomplishments earlier in my career was evolving NetJets into one of the most powerful and successful luxury lifestyle brands. When I started working there, people in the New York area thought I worked for a sports team… either the Nets or the Jets.
But after years of concerted effort, creating brand differentiators and strong marketing partnerships, I helped to grow the brand awareness to over 90% so even people who were not prospective customers were aware of the brand.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your career journey, what would it be? Never forget the importance of having a strong network! And the way to do that is to always help other people out when you can and treat them with respect. That way, when you need help or support, people are willing to help you out in return.
When I was in between jobs and looking for advice, I was overwhelmed by the number of people in my network who were willing to help me out. I now make even more of an effort to give back by helping others in return. You also never know when you might come across someone again later in your career.
Especially now with LinkedIn, it's so easy for people to ask others about you without you even knowing. The value of your reputation is really important.
If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change? I’d say I have no regrets. Where I've ended up with my career now, being the CMO of a large company, was always an aspiration of mine. The way I got here had a few unexpected twists and turns, which in hindsight have added a lot of dimension and experiences that have been very valuable to me.
At the time when I was doing a number of short term marketing consulting roles, it was a bit scary and disconcerting as I had no idea where it was going to take me. But in the end, those roles enabled me to get where I am today. I had to trust the process.
In what ways have events or circumstances in your personal or family life impacted the trajectory of your career? Earlier in my career, I had the unusual experience of being promoted to Director of New Product Development at American Express, when I was at home on maternity leave with my first child.
After 6 months of commuting into New York City, doing this intense job, and having an infant at home, I hit a turning point. I realized after presenting to the president of my division, instead of it being the pinnacle of my career, how resentful I was of how much time I spent preparing for the meeting instead of spending that time with my family.
I recognized that something had to give, so I asked my boss if I could start working part time. I was able to do so but was “mommy tracked” and taken off the bigger, more visible projects. It took me a couple years to gain back the ground that I lost with my career, but the tradeoff was worth it in terms of being able to have more time with my family.
How has your career path evolved at midlife specifically? I was just finishing up a consulting project and trying to figure out what I was going to do next, when I got a call from a headhunter about a CMO job for an education company. It was my dream job - to head up marketing in a role that I felt like I could make a difference in people’s lives.
The only issue was the role was based in the DC area and I was living in NJ with my family. I then realized I was soon to be an empty nester. With the support of my husband, I was able to make this work since we were not constrained by the impacts taking a job in another city would have had on our children.
Because of my increased flexibility, I could take advantage of this stage in my life to pursue a role that was of great interest to me and it actually led to the role I'm in now!
What’s your life motto or mantra? “Life is an adventure.” You have to be open to new things and experiences, and be willing to learn and grow along the way. You never know where life is going to take you, so you might as well enjoy it!