The Professional Journey of Mari Kim Novak, Chairman of Board for The ADVERTISING Club of New York

Mari Kim Novak, Chairman of Board for The ADVERTISING Club of New York

MK 3.21

What was the turning point, or bravest moment, in your career? How has this moment led you to the leader you are today? 

I was invited to a meeting by my boss early in my career where my attendance was “optional.” I was casually told I should come if I had the time. I was quite hesitant to go, as this type of invite was out of the ordinary at my level, and I was uncertain as to what I could contribute or why I should attend. But I decided to go. Boy, was I scared. Going to that meeting changed my career.

The meeting was for a new business pitch for a major CPG client wanting to explore the opportunities in the emerging “digital space.” They wanted to build their first websites and explore different digital advertising initiatives. I listened a lot, trying to sort out how I could help. I listened more, and then I was asked a bunch of questions, which I answered (did I mention I was scared?).

To my surprise, I was asked to work on the pitch, which we won. We were selected as the agency of record for the client’s interactive business. It was a big deal. What I learned was that I was invited to that meeting because I was one of the few people on the team that understood the technology and had really used it. I was asked to take a new role at the company and have remained in the emerging technology space my whole career.

This memory, this moment of my career, is always first to come to mind when I am asked a question like this. I feel so passionately about the importance of doing things that sway you from your normal routine. To take the time to do the little extras, to take road less traveled, to see things from a different perspective, to take risks (big and small), to experience new things. The best way to gain experience is to put yourself in environments to learn. It’s not brave to think outside the box; it’s smart.