Dedication starts at the top. One of the strongest benefits at PAN is the focus of our entire organization on employee career growth and development. At PAN, people are at the core of what we do on a daily basis, and our commitment to our people is our strongest benefit. After listening to industry talks, hosting interviews and digging into my own research, I found that what truly sets PAN apart is our approach to career development via the dedicated VP model.
PAN’s model of having a VP dedicated to each employee’s growth and development makes a huge impact on staff. In October alone, PAN promoted eight people to Directors, Senior Account Supervisors, Account Supervisors and Senior Account Executives. PAN’s model ensures that every employee has a strong leader (VP) who works with them 1:1 to match goals and support development. Each employee works closely with their dedicated VP to establish individual goals and a path to advance. Ask any employee at PAN what their favorite part of working here is and you will likely hear, “the people!” It’s an easy answer when you feel the full support of a dedicated VP and a great team to work with!
As part of the Benefits Spotlight, we sat down with three of PAN’s VPs for further explanations, and here’s what they had to say:
Jennifer Malleo, VP & GM, San Francisco
Jen, how is PAN’s dedicated VP model structured?
PAN provides a unique mentorship development model that provides employees at every level of the organization with a dedicated VP who works 1:1 with them to support their career development. This gives every employee – from freshly minted grads to seasoned account supervisors – regular access to a senior staff member to help them succeed in their role. PAN’s dedicated model also helps new employees integrate quickly into the agency’s culture as part of our new employee onboarding process.
As the VP & GM of PAN West, what is your favorite part of having a dedicated VP model?
I love having an opportunity to work with such a diverse range of amazingly talented individuals. For employees just beginning their careers, I have the opportunity to work closely with them early on to establish best practices and help them focus their passion for communications. As they grow in their roles, I can help them build their skillset as strategists and client counselors. Watching them grow as individuals and professionals is hugely rewarding. They teach me as much as I teach them!
What is the benefit of the dedicated VP model to employees and their careers as they grow at PAN?
The nature of working at an integrated communications agency is that things change quickly. With clients, nothing is ever static: client demands shift, new staff is added to support emerging account needs, employees are promoted. Every day brings new challenges and, sometimes, new faces. Having a dedicated VP gives employees a single point of contact who can help them adapt, learn and navigate client and organizational priorities. We’re like a compass for their career development. The dedicated VP acts as a sounding board and advisor, teaching employees not just through knowledge but experience, and helps them explore ways to manage challenges. We also support and encourage team members in connecting their own goals and values to the larger organizational agenda, helping them become more engaged in their work.
This sounds great! How does PAN make sure employees’ interests are taken into account?
The VPs really get to know their team members. I would classify the arrangement as more of a partnership than a classic manager/employee relationship. By understanding who the team members are as people – what they are passionate about, the environment they thrive in, what their goals are for the short and long term – we have a chance to help them on their journey to becoming great communications professionals. No one thrives in a one-size-fits-all model. I have dedicated team members that absolutely love media relations, others that are digital marketing experts and some that can draft a thoughtful Harvard Business Review article in 30 minutes without breaking a sweat. They each require a tailored response to helping achieve their career goals, and the PAN dedicated model provides exactly that.
What is your favorite activity to do with your team?
The SF team goes out once per month, sometimes for beer and snacks, other times it’s trivia night or karaoke. This has really helped the team bond to spend an hour or two outside of work and get to know each other as people. And I’ve learned that we have some wicked good trivia aficionados within our four walls!
Megan Kessler, VP, Boston
Meg, what is your favorite part of having a dedicated VP model as a VP at PAN?
In a shared resource model like PAN’s, in which employees have the opportunity to work across a variety of accounts and teams, it’s essential that all employees have a leader who is committed to their development at a high level. As a VP, I have the opportunity to paint with a broad brush when it comes to influencing learning on each of my client accounts. But I treasure the time I have getting to know my dedicated team, because that’s when we dive into the deeper conversations around their personal career goals and I have an opportunity to provide context and guidance in their day-to-day work.
Tell me about career development and growth at PAN with the dedicated model:
At PAN, we offer our employees the opportunity to set goals and reflect on their performance quarterly, which keeps them focused on their learning and professional growth on an ongoing basis. Reflection isn’t an annual exercise at PAN, it’s something our dedicated development model encourages often so employees are empowered to drive and direct their own growth, with the help of someone who’s been in their shoes before and can offer perspective on their experiences. In this environment, we see our staff stretching to achieve new goals, self-identifying areas for growth and also teaching and supporting one another because they see the value of mentorship and how a commitment to teaching and learning can drive success in every corner of their careers.
From an employee perspective, how are interests and passions taken into account?
When I meet with my dedicated teams, we always discuss their interests across both the industries/clients they serve and the different skills they use in their roles (i.e., writing, pitching, analytics). These conversations help me to advocate on their behalf when management meets each week to discuss staffing of accounts. When someone on my team tells me they love a particular industry or want to spend more time in a certain area of the job, I capitalize on opportunities that match their interests. That’s something we are always doing at PAN – our dedicated VPs are fierce advocates for their teams.
Dan Martin, VP, Boston
Dan, what’s your favorite part of PAN’s dedicated VP model?
One of my favorite parts of the VP job is being able to spend time with my dedicated team members, understanding where their interests lie, where they are focused on their account work and where there are opportunities for them to expand their skill set — mapping all three areas to ensure that employees stay happy, motivated and have a chance to grow and develop. I have a monthly meeting on my schedule with each and every team member — from director down through intern — where we get to spend an hour together talking about their professional life, work/life balance, any issues or challenges they are encountering and strategies to overcome, as well as successes they are having on their accounts. We set goals and review them regularly to ensure we are tracking and, more importantly, getting the opportunities they need to hone their skills and be ready for the next level. I have an open-door policy and my dedicated team members know they can come to me at any time —not just at our monthly meeting — to discuss whatever happens to be on their minds. I truly enjoy the engagement and interaction and watching my people flourish.
What do you see as the benefit to PAN’s employees?
I have heard from every one of my dedicated team members that they truly value the dedicated model — they feel it gives them a voice to express what’s on their minds and they also know that there is someone who is watching out for their best interests and development. As new people come to the agency and join my team, I am astonished at the number of those people who tell me it is not done this way at other places and, as a result, this is one of the biggest reasons they joined PAN.
How are employees’ interests taken into account?
I always make sure that I speak with my dedicated members about areas they are passionate about — whether it be HR technology, big data, marketing technology, pharma services, digital health or healthcare IT — as well as functional areas they enjoy (i.e., writing, pitching, social, integrated marketing, SEO, etc.). Knowing both of those things allows me, as their advocate, to work with my VP colleagues to align those interests with new business coming in the door or organic growth on existing accounts and get them on accounts or in positions where they will be challenged, can contribute to the team’s and client’s success and, overall, become better marketing and PR professionals.
What are your favorite activities you have done with your team?
Last summer we took a boat ride on Codzilla out of the Boston Harbor and then went out for drinks. It was a great way to get the team out of the office and spend some time together bonding and getting to know each other better, leaving our day-to-day work behind for a while.
Our Dedicated VP model is just one of PAN’s great benefits for our employees. Follow our Benefits Spotlight Series to hear more and apply today for an open position across our four offices: http://www.pancommunications.com/careers/