Tell us a bit about yourself—how did you first get involved in the industry? How long have you been with HZ?
My interest in the industry started with my family. I remember when I was younger being inspired mostly by creative people—my mother was a teacher and was always creative in how she approached her classes, and Karen [Zuckerman] being my aunt exposed me to creativity in the business world. I never felt like I had the artist gene myself, but I’ve always been a people person and a big communicator. In college I put the two together and found account management to be the perfect fit for my passions.
I considered many cities and agency positions before landing on HZ. It was an obvious match for me, considering my family, but I was even more persuaded by the exciting future ahead for the agency. It was 8 years ago, and they were just beginning to dabble in the interactive world. I was excited to jump in at a time where the opportunities were endless.
HZ has grown quite a bit over the past few years—how has the agency changed during your tenure here?
It has changed so much! It’s been amazing to watch the growth. We used to handle a modest number of local and smaller clients—now we manage and work with over 100 nationally recognized and revered brands, across each of our five HZ offices.
And it seems like we are getting stronger almost weekly—hiring new thinkers, expanding our capabilities, and winning new business. Our departments keep growing as well; in particular, it’s been really interesting to see the interactive department, web development, social media, and video production all change in response to technology over the past 8 years.
But in addition to all the change, some things stay the same. We still have a really fun culture, weekly boot camp, the HZ band, etc. This is what makes us special and it’s what keeps me here.
Tell us a bit about some of the industries and clients you work with—do you find you work with one kind of industry or do you handle a more diverse portfolio?
When people ask me why I prefer working for an agency versus the client side of marketing, the answer is simple: I love the daily variety. I enjoy working with different clients and solving the distinct problems each of them faces. It keeps the days exciting and my mind racing.
Since I have been here for a while, I’ve had a chance to touch projects in almost all of the industries that we focus on. It’s great to have an opportunity to learn about different industries and to match successes in some projects with opportunities for others.
It’s important for brands and agencies to work closely together—I’m sure that’s a sentiment you can agree with. Why is this relationship so crucial for success?
I definitely agree. Agency-client relationships should always feel like a true partnership rather than a stiff business exchange. If you respect and trust your client, and they return the sentiment, success always seems easier to come by.
At HZ, we want our clients to succeed in every way possible—we would never make suggestions or build a strategy around something that we do not think will be successful. If that foundation of trust is in place with a client, there is no limit to all that we can accomplish.
Not to mention, in true client partnerships the teams are more comfortable (both agency and client). Everyone feels like they can be honest and express all concerns, trusting one another to respect feedback.
What are the benefits of a “full-service” agency like HZ when compared to smaller, specialty firms?
It’s a one-stop shop and, as a result, there are a ton of efficiencies. Instead of coordinating with a bunch of different specialty firms, we can share knowledge and work across departments, all under one roof. Each department knows your brand, and can share resources, findings, strategies, etc. It streamlines the whole process with a result that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Enough about work—tell us a little about Ali outside of the office. Any hobbies or interests you want to share? Do you like to travel? Indulge in Netflix binges?
Considering that I am a new mom, this is an easy question for me to answer—my new “hobby” is being a mom. It’s been a big change, but super fun and exciting. Right now my husband and I are enjoying figuring out how life works with a little girl in the mix. We are balancing work, family visits, friends, and fun. So far, it’s working out great! Other hobbies include working out, travel (I grew up traveling a lot since my dad was in the Navy and we moved often), I’m a diehard Penn State fan, and I love animals. My latest Netflix binge is Friday Night Lights!