November 10, 2016
Q&A with: Director of People, Jaclene Kirkwood
In this Q&A series, Sullivan team members reflect on their work, their views, and their experience at Sullivan. In this post, our People genius shares her thoughts on interviews, hiring, and being successful here.
What tells you if someone will be successful at Sullivan?
We used to have a saying that we are a very dynamic, fast-paced group of type A’s and I think that’s still true to a large degree. Yes, we have more textbook type-As, and more mellow type-As but in general, everyone at Sullivan is really hard working, detail-oriented, and intensely focused on doing great work, so the first thing I look at is if someone would thrive in that environment.
And, because we’re a small agency that works through constant collaboration, we staff our teams with strategic creatives and creative strategists. We encourage everyone to be resourceful, curious, and creative because we don’t think that there’s one set way to solve a client’s problem. We believe that when people work together – regardless of their resumé-based expertise, it opens the doors for creative solutions. For someone to be successful at Sullivan, they have to like that sort of opportunity.
Plus, they have to have a sense of humor. That’s probably #1.
What’s an interview here like?
A big part of our interview process is reviewing work. Coming in, any candidate is going to be asked to show what they’ve done in the past. It’s not so we can evaluate the creative deliverable or what client it was for, but so we can learn what makes you tick, what kind of client relationships, teams, and verticals get you excited. More than anything, we want to hear how you think and how you find passion in your work. If a candidate can explain something that they’ve done that they loved doing—whether it’s a communications plan, a positioning statement, or a visual identity—that tells us a lot about whether you’ll come alive in your work every day here at Sullivan.
One of our guiding principles is “Fall in Love”—meaning we find the amazing in every client, and the more complex the problem is that we’re helping to solve, the more excited we get to do the work. When we interview someone, we’re always looking to see if they embody that principle.
You started at Sullivan almost 20 years ago. What would you tell yourself on day one?
I’d tell myself to dive in and don’t wait.
I’ve run the gamut here, working in strategy, marketing, operations, and a lot of that is because Sullivan is a place where there are constant opportunities to be involved in different things. You can touch things outside of your defined role, on different clients or projects, even on internal initiatives — that’s the beauty of this company. For a person who likes to raise their hand and is comfortable wearing a lot of different hats, this is the place for you.
So I’d say to myself to get in, start looking at the work, meeting people, figure out who people are and what they do. Sullivan is the ultimate meritocracy — as you master your role and the opportunities given to you, more doors will be open down the line.
Sound up your alley? Visit our careers page and get in touch.