What is the key to a harmonious work environment? With young people joining the workforce among their more experienced counterparts, companies must engage a wide range of employee priorities. For some, a big part of the puzzle is simply the empowerment of a strong support system and dual mentorship opportunities. "It's always important to find inspiration in the people you work with," says Casey Mills, Supervisor of Sales Operations at rep firm NCC Media. That's something that I really found [in my current position], whether it's the people that I work with day to day or in different offices and fields that we collaborate with."
Originally from Merrick, Long Island, Casey wasn't that 7-year-old that said "I want to work in operations and ad sales!" But then again, who was? Like many young girls, Casey had dreams of becoming a ballet teacher and fashion designer. With time, she grew an interest in media and communications, with a particular affinity for the creative side. As a high school student she was a member of the business and marketing organization DECA. She also enjoyed exploring visual art in an advertising design class. Casey spent her free time performing with her high school dance team, Kickline, and volunteering during her summers as a counselor with Camp Anchor, dedicated to children and adults with special needs. (The Kickline team is pictured below. That's Casey in the back row, fourth from the right.)
Casey expressed a desire to make an impact within her community from an early age. She believes she's able to accomplish this in her role now, as she has the responsibility of hiring team members at the sales coordinator level, which is where she initially started with the company. "I try to lead by example," says Casey. She hopes that her team feels comfortable following her lead as well as thinking of new and improved creative solutions. "I definitely seek feedback from people who are working with me on all sorts of levels," she adds.
There is certainly a trend these days of "mentoring up," which points to the younger generation sharing as much as they're learning from seasoned industry pros. As Casey is able to provide guidance to her team, she's also learned a lot from her direct supervisor, Hee Chung Hwang, the Director of Sales Operations at NCC Media. "What I appreciate the most about her is that she is not afraid to give constructive feedback," Casey says. "This has really helped me to grow and want to continue to strive to do better." Casey is aware that she is young with a lot to learn, adding that she's still mastering her leadership style. "I try to watch how others handle certain situations and take bits and pieces of that into my day-to-day."
After graduating from Elon University with a degree in Strategic Communications, Casey worked at a public relations firm as a Junior Account Executive. While she initially sought the opportunity to be in a creative environment, she soon learned that it wasn't the right fit. Recalling a computer science class she took in college, Casey realized that she enjoys working with numbers, data and analytics, which is a large component of her work with NCC Media today.
"Everyone in the class was taking it as an elective and hated it, but I loved it," Casey says of the intro coding class. "It was so outside of my field so it surprised me when I got into this role that I was so into analytics and analyzing the workload metrics, but I guess I always had it in me."
Upon finding her way to sales rep firm NCC Media, Casey has transitioned from a Sales Coordinator and Team Leader to her current position as the Supervisor of Sales Operations. In year three with the company she now manages a sizable team helping cable clients get their ads on air. There are a lot of moving parts involved. "NCC is a middle man between the agencies that are representing the brand and the cable affiliates, so we're always trying to make sure that we're transacting business as smoothly as possible," she explains. "We work with everyone [and they have] different systems and different ways of doing things. We accommodate those needs." (Casey -- wearing black in the back with the whiteboard behind her -- and some of her colleagues are pictured below.)
In her position Casey is able to draw varied insights on the media market. "I think the media industry is a really cool place to be," she continues. "It's always evolving … Social media didn't exist years ago, and now it's an actual job function."
Looking ahead Casey expects to see a more targeted approach in reaching consumers and she is attentive to the development of the predictive nature of advertising. "In the next wave advertisers will know what you're thinking before you even think it … will be able to predict what you need," she says. "Ads are everywhere and that's just the way it is. I'd rather see something I'm interested in than seeing something random."
Casey strongly believes that an ideal workplace environment is one where you feel supported and you're able to look up to and learn from your team (essentially, workplace #squadgoals). Advice she would give to her younger self is simply not to sweat the small stuff. "Not everything will be perfect!" she says. "It's funny the way you learn your strengths by the different opportunities that are thrown at you."
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