The COVID-19 pandemic is not only changing where and how we work, it is reinventing job roles — possibly permanently.
As part of a Q&A series, Samsung employees across business areas are sharing their views on how they have redefined their roles for today and what they expect their roles to look like in the future. They are also are offering advice to those now entering the profession as the collective workforce discussion shifts from what now to what next.
Name: Michelle Engel [LinkedIn]
Title: Head of Partnerships, Programming, Influencer
Location: Samsung 837, NYC
Years with Samsung: Close to eight years
1. What inspired you to pursue a career in Marketing?
I consider what I am doing my fourth career. If I am addressing what inspired me to be where I am, the answer is music. As a child, I immediately saw that music and entertainment connected people that had nothing else in common. Ask someone about their favorite song, album, artist, concert. They light up and you learn so much about them. I knew I needed to harness that power and find a path for myself. My interest in music got me started on a career path that lead me to be on-air radio talent, a producer, a program director, and a marketer.
I came to Samsung via a company they acquired (mSpot) where I lead Content for music services. Over time, I moved to the Marketing side of Samsung to run Music Partnerships. I expanded to Integrated Marketing, and then to Influencer, Strategic Partnerships, and Programming for Brand Experience. I love the world that I work in because it intersects pop culture with technology, and democratizes creation and storytelling for all.
2. How would you describe your day-to-day role pre-COVID?
No two days are the same when working on the Brand Experience team. My team is responsible for the programming of consumer facing experiences like Samsung 837; influencer strategy and management for the brand; strategic partnership relationship management; and industry/consumer trade shows. Most days were comprised of 1:1 meetings with team members, presentations to partners, interviews with talent, off-site face-to-face meetings with strategic partners, and events at Samsung 837 into the evening. Each day also included budget management, spreadsheet maintenance, presentation development, and fire-drill exercises. The open floor plan of Samsung 837 had me situated within two feet of each of my team members. Today, the element that stands out as most different is how the “Michelle, do you have a minute?” from VP HL Ray as he would pop his head out of his office is now a KNOX message!
How our team’s role has evolved is exciting and, frankly, a needed evolution. And while the changes we have been implementing are a force function of the crisis, they are the right forward-thinking steps to shape future experiences and interactions with our brand.
3. How have you reimagined your role for today?
How our team’s role has evolved is exciting and, frankly, a needed evolution. And while the changes we have been implementing are a force function of the crisis, they are the right forward-thinking steps to shape future experiences and interactions with our brand. For example, we are redefining what programming means for consumer engagement. Of course, Samsung 837 as a physical space in NYC is currently closed, so there isn’t any programming taking place. As such, our team flipped programming on its head, making the digital output a priority. We are also working with our HQ counterparts on interesting ways to evolve the experience calendar with partners, influencers, and community groups to create the next-generation of consumer engagement.
From an influencer perspective, we are thankful for a group of creators that already “Work from Home” (WFH) all the time. We activated #TeamGalaxy to develop How-To content with our devices and ecosystem that outline how to best WFH. We also showed how our tech empowers people to play, learn and study from home. We can activate authentic partners/creators to build stories for Samsung without the need for a big production team or off-site groups for shoots. For example, we just launched a How-To series on Samsung’s YouTube channel with Colin and Samir, members of #TeamGalaxy, showing how DeX, Galaxy S20 and other devices enable their WFH lifestyle.
From a partnership perspective, it is amazing to be on the same page regarding how to deal with this completely unfamiliar situation. We were collectively sharing best practices on employee management, WFH solutions, etc. We also had the same consumer-first mindset. Partners like Pandora, Live Nation, Netflix and others have really shown how nimble they are and how quickly they have found ways to showcase their support and compassion for their consumers.
4. What changes will you expect to keep for the future and why?
I think we will see a lot of changes remain in place long-term. We will revisit “mandatory travel.” Through the use of new tools, our team has gotten closer by navigating this new work-life flow together. We made sure we had a daily humanizing touch base that was non-work related (trivia, yoga, meditation, etc.). Also, HL Ray has been amazing at making sure the team is managing their day and taking care of themselves. He is leading by example, so that really helps. Moving forward, we will all need to commit to daily practices that keep us on track and keep our intuition and creativity at their peak.
5. Is there anyone in your life that has taught you to adapt to change?
Three years ago, my older brother, Rob, had a stroke. He lived alone in Austin, Texas. He was a musician, a bartender, and a specialized mechanic on vintage motorcycles. He had an amazing life that changed in an instant. He was in the ICU, lost the use of his limbs and was told he would need to live with his sister for the rest of his life. But even when he couldn’t speak, you could see the determination his eyes. He fought through months of rehab and relearned how to speak, how to get around without driving, and then how to drive. From there, he was determined to live alone… and so he made it happen. Even though Rob’s entire world changed overnight, he never complained or felt sorry for himself. He simply focused on the next step to get where he wanted to be. I was humbled and mind-blown by his strength and courage. I think about it daily. What we are dealing with now is a new world. It is not a time to complain or feel sorry for ourselves. It is a time to focus on where we want to be…where we need to be…and then get our tools in order and build.
6. What advice do you have for those now entering your profession?
- Networking: You always meet people. From middle school onwards, you are legitimately networking. So, it is always important to be kind, open and relatable, and remember that you are making an impression on everyone you meet.
- Career Path: Put yourself in situations that can get you closer to your career path. That may be a town hall (digital or live), it may be joining a Facebook group, it may be engaging with a podcaster, it may be cold calling a company or leader with whom you are inspired by.
- The Daily Grind: Take on more work than your job title. My entire career, I have done things that I was not professionally trained for. I took it all on because I knew it would help me grow me as a person and set me up for future success. It is important to look out for yourself and know your worth, but at the same time, entitlement is not a good look and can slow down your trajectory. Take on the work, take the team with you, and be kind through the madness.
7. And, lastly, what piece of tech can you currently not live without?
Let’s be honest. My phone is attached to me now more than ever. I am a Note girl. I use my Galaxy Note 10 for everything. I send more doodles to my friends than ever. And I take more pictures because I think every day is worth remembering.