The Account Director | 40 Under 40 Class of 2020
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Reese Witherspoon and Jillian Harris
Pink – it’s my power color!
Can't Live Without
My family and friends that are like family.
GET TO KNOW BREE
She’s driven. She’s compassion. She’s sparkly. Why, it’s Bree Brownlee! Scroll down to read all about this confident woman of character who is a marketing and advertising whiz.
What inspired you to go into this line of work?
When I was in high school, I had an amazing journalism teacher, Mrs. Olman. By my senior year, I was taking yearbook, newspaper, journalism and was her teacher’s aide. Mrs. Olman fueled a passion in me for communications and design. Heading into college I knew that was what I wanted to do professionally. Upon graduating from college, I applied to every advertising agency and communications/public relations firm I could find. A door opened for me at Leo Burnett, and I fell in love with the industry.
What challenge did you overcome to get where you are today?
I’ve always been “young” in most of the roles I have had. So being a young, female leader there are plenty of challenges I face daily. Remaining poised, holding tight to my convictions, not being afraid to stand up for myself and what I believe in and soaking up every ounce of insight I can from those around me have led to me where I am today.
Did someone help you get to where you are today, like a mentor?
I was tremendously blessed with an amazing mentor as my first department leader, Skip Drayton. He saw something in me early in my career and helped shape me into who I am today. Skip was the type of leader who would open doors for you, encourage you along the way and push you well beyond what you thought you were capable of, all while teaching you to be able to do it on your own. I’m forever grateful for his mentorship and now friendship.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the creative process – getting to work with people on a “simple” ask from a client and turn it into something beyond their expectations that truly impacts the way people think and feel. It’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many creative thinkers who are passionate about what they do. It pushes me to bring my best self each day.
Staycation or Vacation
Physical book or Audobook
Cats or Dogs
Left Brain or Right Brain
Stripes or Polka dots
Describe yourself in three words.
Driven, compassionate, sparkly.
Your life philosophy is…
“Turn moments of misery into moments of magic.” – Stephen Hyken.
What is the best piece of advice you received?
It’s okay to make a mistake. Dive in, make a decision and believe in your gut. You’ll make missteps but we’ll fix them, and you’ll learn and grow. Just go and lead. My boss and mentor told me this when I stepped into my first leadership role and that permission to make decisions on my own, with his support through it all, was instrumental in giving me the confidence to lead.
If someone handed you an airline ticket to a place of your choosing, where would you go and why?
A European adventure! We have family in Scotland and just did a great trip to visit them and tour the country this fall. I would love to see more of Europe and experience the culture and history.
What’s something you cannot live without?
I am blessed with a close-knit family and family friends who have “adopted” us into their families. These relationships help me recharge and are my guiding force each day. They are also all willing to jump in and help with any crazy idea that I may come up with!
Name a book you read that positively shaped you.
“The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland” by Jim Defede. This book highlights the very best of humanity! It has made me take a step back and see how I can make an impact on the people around me in my day to day. I’ve recently gotten a few leadership books that I’m looking forward to reading next year.
If you weren’t working in the industry that you are, what would you be doing instead?
I love event planning. The idea of being able to take someone out of their typical environment and shape what they see, hear, feel, touch, smell. It’s a powerful tool to change someone’s perspective or make them feel a certain way. Even planning has become my “glad gift” in the words of Megan Wick. I have volunteered to run the US National Championship for Scottish Highland Dancing twice, planning two large dance competitions a year, and love hosting events for work and family and friends.
How do you unwind or relax after a long day?
A glass a wine curled up on the sofa with my puppy and binge watching some TV. It allows to mentally escape and go to another place for a while.
The most rewarding aspect of your job is…
Personally, it is seeing those on my team grow and become successful leaders who are confident and driven. Professionally, seeing the work we put out make a positive impact on my clients’ businesses. It’s inspiring to see people you have had a hand in shaping be successful, just as it is inspiring to see a creative solution drive business results.
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it – metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions – what would it say and why?
“Be kind to one another.” If there was more empathy for each other, a better effort to understand where another person is coming from or the challenges that they have been through, the world would be a much better place. I believe we would all accomplish so much more together.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I recently have adopted a leadership philosophy of “How can I help?” This new mindset has changed how I approach situations and how others approach me. Often people know what they need, they just don’t know how to ask for it. By asking “How can I help?” it opens the door for people to ask for exactly what they need and allows me to be able to help them in a way that’s most beneficial to them.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Those are moments where I know I need to recharge or ask for support. Often taking a moment to step away, clear my head, do something completely not related to the task at hand allows me to gain a new perspective and a renewed energy.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be money, time, energy, etc.)
Investing my time and energy into the people and organizations I value the most. Working with my highland dancers and advising my collegians is some of the most rewarding work I do. Spending time with family and friends, even just a quick lunch, can do wonders for that person and myself!
Name a confident woman of character who you look up to? Why her?
There truly are too many to mention just one – from friends who find the balance between family and pursuing their career dreams to friends who have maintained being a pillar of strength through health and family obstacles to mentors and role models in my professional and volunteer industries to my mum who has shaped me into who I am today. I feel truly blessed to have so many strong women in my life that have inspired me, encouraged me and pushed me to reach for greatness.