Director of Growth and Marketing, Laura believes great work is created through teamwork, a little moxie, and a sense of humor. She’s a New York City transplant with a passion for collecting more books than her apartment can hold.
Amélie Company: Tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been with us? What do you love about your job?
Laura B. Underwood: As the Director of Growth and Marketing, I’m responsible for the growth of the agency through two primary avenues: new business and corporate marketing.
The first is focused on strategically leading new business efforts to find new client partners that align with our values and capabilities, and the second mainly consists of curating our agency’s organic social platforms and blogs. Over the last year, we’ve worked hard to make sure we’re treating Amelie as we would a client in order to externally establish our positioning and expertise.
Both of these tasks take a village. As a result, I have the unique pleasure of getting to work with everyone across the agency depending on the needs of a proposal or to create engaging content.
How would you describe Amélie to someone at a cocktail party?
I always say Amélie is a small-but-mighty group of talented individuals who have largely come from bigger markets—and bigger agencies—to use their talents to make a positive impact in the community. Amélie has almost exclusively worked on education and awareness campaigns for hard-to-tackle issues like addiction, driver safety, marijuana use, and mental health initiatives.
It’s what attracted me to the agency and makes us a bit different.
What do you give a damn about?
Mental health is something that’s really important to me. I left NYC two years ago (a city I love and still miss) for a myriad of reasons, and what I found in Denver is a healthier perspective on life—making sure I’m working to live, rather than the other way around.
Personally, I started my mental health journey a few years back and am encouraged that things like therapy and prioritizing your well-being are being de-stigmatized and readily talked about amongst my friends and colleagues.
“Therapy” should not be a dirty world. I think the bravest thing anyone can do is admit they need help—in big or small ways—and take charge of their own life without shame.
What do you think is an exciting current creative trend in the advertising world?
I’m encouraged by the shift in retail and beauty brands, like Aerie and Glossier, who are moving from celebrating unattainable bodies and beauty standards to celebrating what women actually look like.
Advertising both follows and creates social norms, and this moment is long overdue.
It’s exciting for me to see brands taking responsibility for how they’re contributing to society and wanting to be part of encouraging confidence, diversity, and normalizing “real” life—which includes stretch marks, imperfect skin, and belly fat.
Conversely, what do you think we should all stop doing?
What matters most is finding the nexus amongst brand, consumer, and platform (or channel) and unleashing that power. That means having the discipline to say “no” to certain ideas that don’t serve the goals of a business or initiative or will fall on deaf ears.
What do you think makes a great new business director?
Collaboration, tact, trusting your gut, and being able to keep an eye on the bigger picture without forgetting the importance of the minutia. As a new business director, you’re first and foremost a problem-solver who’s striving to create order out of chaos.
New business efforts tend to happen on tight (sometimes unbelievably unrealistic) deadlines over which you have no control, while also asking team members to do leaps and bounds above their day job to meet them. Nothing will change the fact that things still need to get done, but remembering that we’re all human is paramount.
Additionally, I had a former boss and mentor who actively hired people with complementary skill sets. I think the best leader acknowledges what they love and are good at, but has the humility to acknowledge where they may not be as strong, or not have the passion for something, and then brings on those individuals who do. Advertising can be an industry fueled by ego and her exemplary leadership has truly shaped me.
We know you’re not just your resume. Where are we most likely to find you outside of work?
On a personal day, you can usually find me in the mountains either skiing or hiking, or in the park with my nose in a book not moving for hours. I also try to start most mornings with CorePower Yoga and make sure quality time is spent with friends who bring my life a lot of joy.
If you had a choice between two superpowers, being invisible or flying, which would you choose? Why?
I would choose flying. There’s a lot to be gained by being able to achieve a different perspective that easily. Plus, I’m a sucker for a great view.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?
Emma Stone. I admire strong women with a sense of humor who are also unashamed to be themselves, especially if that means being a bit goofy or even awkward. I’d like to think I embody those qualities on my best day. Plus, she’s also a redhead. Albeit, not a natural one.
What’s your favorite movie and accompanying movie snack?
While I can’t pick just one favorite movie, I always pour a box of Milk Duds directly into popcorn. Don’t knock it until you try it.
What’s a characteristic that you most admire in people?
Tenacity and wit. Life and work are going to have their challenges, so I most admire people who navigate those difficult times with grace (and a bit of grit) but also realize that life is way too short not to laugh a lot. Especially at yourself.
What’s the best (or one of the best) piece(s) of advice, personal or professional, you’ve received?
“You’ll never miss out on what’s meant for you.” As a (mostly) Type-A personality, it’s hard to not try to control everything. So while I often bristle at this advice from a dear friend, it’s spot on.
Though this advice does not mean to sit back and letting life just happen to you, it does mean trusting that if you’re doing the work and being intentional that things will work out how they’re meant to.
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