Could climbing the proverbial corporate ladder at one job early in your career be one of the keys to success? Arielle Patrick, one of the youngest senior executives in financial public relations credits it to helping her gain valuable leadership roles at a young age – she is 28-years-old. “I truly believe that the key to success is building strong relationships and credibility at one place when you’re young,” says Arielle. When Arielle switched firms after more than five years, she joined the global public relations agency, Edelman, as a senior vice president. As a co-leader of the financial communications and capital markets business, she provides counsel to public and private companies on all-stakeholder communications strategies for financial special situations.
How did you end up where you are? What was your career path?
The most valuable thing I did – thanks to my parents’ incredible advice – was start internships every summer as soon as I graduated from high school. I then joined a firm right after college graduation and stayed there for several years.
Many millennials switch jobs frequently in the early portion of their career, but I hold an “old school” view. I truly believe that the key to success is building strong relationships and credibility at one place when you’re young. This allows you to harness leadership opportunities earlier and, despite your age, develop experience that is in “dog years.” This was a game-changer for me.
What does your job entail?
I advise companies in various sectors on how to best communicate with all their most important stakeholders (media, investors, employees, vendors, suppliers and anyone else) about complex financial matters. This typically includes transactions, like mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings and bankruptcy. In several cases, these special situations are tied to crises like litigation or shareholder activism.
Another part of my job is designing strategies for financial services companies like hedge funds and private equity firms to protect and enhance their reputations through integrated media and marketing.
What are the most important characteristics someone needs to have to be successful in your industry?
I would say strong research, analytics and writing skills are paramount. For me, no one workday is the same…but the three most consistent things I do are: read, analyze and write.
Each morning, I read the latest news and form an opinion on how current events might negatively or positively impact clients. I also write and edit all day. This could include letters, speeches, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings, press releases, presentations or anything else a client needs to execute on the strategies we develop together.
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out your career?
I wish someone had told me that, at times, something’s got to give. It is difficult to be the highest performer at work, and also knock it out of the park as a friend, sibling, daughter etcetera.
When you embark on a chapter of your life where career is the priority, it’s important to communicate this clearly to your loved ones, so that feelings do not get hurt when you are preoccupied or have to reschedule plans.
If you are proactively transparent with friends and family about your career aspirations and get specific about how and why you’d like to reach these goals, they will always be more understanding. This is much more effective than what I tried to do in the beginning of my career…which was try to do it all and fail.
Ultimately, women can have it all, but they need to loop others in along the way. I find that men have less pressure to be everything to everyone all the time. That is a unique challenge we as women face.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Patrick: A close mentor of mine who has had an exemplary career full of surprises once said to me over dinner:
“Having a plan can give a degree of comfort, but it can also be a constraint. Being nimble is a key element in being successful.”
Gross: What is your career advice for other young professional women?
Patrick: My advice is that communication is your greatest asset. If you do not clearly express what you want, how you want it and when you’d like to achieve your goals…no one will just give you the opportunity.
Image by Michelle Peralta, courtesy of Arielle Patrick.