Partnerships Chair, AMADC
Flexibility is power: a concept we’ve all learned well amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to “flex” -- adapt to others’ working styles, change direction quickly on projects or adjust your tone of voice based on the situation -- is a key skill that AMADC’s Partnerships Chair, Kara Christ, has honed during her career.
“I don’t see it as changing who you are, but rather flexing to the situation to ensure you are presenting your best self for whatever goal you are trying to achieve,” says Christ. “So, if I am in a room with my colleagues, for example, I try to be relatable, authentic and a safe-space creator. Whereas, in a meeting with the president of a company, I might be more concerned with making sure that I'm presenting confidence in my ideas and knowledge.”
As the director of marketing and communications at United Bank, Christ works with a small yet mighty team of 15 savvy marketers. After working for national and global organizations like the American Red Cross and big-four consulting firm KPMG, Christ embraces the voice and visibility she gains at a more agile company.
“I get to hold meetings with the president of the bank and talk to him about my ideas, and then I feel empowered to go and execute them,” says Christ. “In terms of marketing, that's a lot of fun for me because I get to partake in full-cycle marketing, including ideating and setting strategy, project managing and execution, all the way through analyzing results and suggesting ideas for improvement. I have a greater understanding of the work that goes into executing a good idea, so when I bring an idea to the table, it's something that I’m really passionate about because I know the work that has to go into following through on it.”
Christ’s marketing degree led her to an unexpected first job after college as an associate to a wealth management advisor. Despite her lack of expertise in finance, Christ embraced the challenge to learn new skills by working hard, raising her hand and even volunteering to earn her Series 7 license in order to provide better service to her clients and advisors. This lesson -- of pursuing new opportunities and finding “passion points” in your job -- is one she has carried throughout her career. In fact, Christ says giving employees the chance to explore and build their skill sets is essential if businesses want to avoid the repercussions of what experts are coining “The Great Resignation.”
“Companies need to show their employees that they are valued, and that is not solely done through monetary incentives anymore,” says Christ. “If they don't see clients every day, let them work from home. Provide employees laptops so they can travel and work from different offices. Offer opportunities for growth by letting them attend conferences and trainings to grow their skill sets and network. And honestly, just expressing appreciation goes a long way. Receiving a nice handwritten note from my supervisor or one of my internal clients on a job well-done means the world to me and it’s so simple.”
Of course, another way companies can show they value their workforce is to give them the opportunity to join industry organizations -- which is partly what led Christ to join AMADC.
“I first joined AMADC for the great tools that come out of it, like campaign planning workbooks and audience targeting strategies,” says Christ. “Those were tools I needed as a project manager, and using them to execute at a higher level was very helpful. Now, I’m in a more strategic and advisory role in my career, so I find the networking opportunities of being involved with AMADC especially beneficial.”
With her own professional aspirations in mind, Christ finds herself at a point in her career where she wants to give back and share her experience and knowledge with the broader marketing community. Her desire to grow professionally as well as pay it forward is what led her to pursue an AMADC board position.
“United Bank is proud to donate to and sponsor organizations as a way to give back to the communities in which we live and work, so in my role, I'm actually seeing sponsorships from the other side of the curtain,” says Christ. “I thought this insight would be really helpful to the partnership chair role. I know what sponsors want and what makes a good relationship in terms of benefits, fulfillment, communication and price structure. When I found out AMADC was revamping the partnership program, I thought it would be good to have that kind of understanding in order to put together a program structure that can offer what partners want.”
Who is Kara Christ outside of United Bank and AMADC? She’s a dedicated mom of two energetic toddlers, a passionate a cappella singer and a novice golfer. Christ’s personal life is active and social, filled with purpose, excitement and determination -- qualities she integrates into her professional life as well.
“The best people I have worked with and I have worked for are hungry, self-driven and proactive,” says Christ. “Those get-up-in-the-morning and want-to-come-to-work type of people. If you really want to go places, my advice is to come to work to work. Show up, raise your hand, say “yes” to things. Don't rely on somebody to ask you to do something or wait to be handed a task. Instead, create your own meaningful work by listening, thinking through things, understanding what might add value to your team and organization, and then following through on your ideas.”
Want to get involved with the Partnerships committee or another AMADC committee? Become a member and fill out the Volunteer Application here.