My career in publishing has been one of rapid—often unexpected—change driven by a clear career goal. As a woman who wanted a family, I needed to be prepared for major life changes and the impact they would have on the path to my goals. Agility has been a key asset in responding to the right opportunities at the right times.
My first major career goal was to become publisher of a magazine within 10 years of entering the industry. To do this, I aligned myself with mentors and worked my way from a community newspaper to a major market newspaper, city and regional lifestyle magazines, and across multiple national media organizations.
In 2009, I became pregnant with twin daughters, and my husband left his job to run for political office. That was new motivation to push my career forward. What could have been a major disruption became a real opportunity to evaluate the first five years of my career and what I needed next. It led to a new position as the advertising director for Northshore magazine.
The company was closer to home and allowed me to better balance work and family—even more important as my third child came soon after—but it also provided room for career growth, a key element of my decision.
At the office, I invested in training and new technology, growing our brand within the marketplace, and increasing our product portfolio and revenue streams. The success I enjoyed in establishing Northshore as a top-quality magazine left me confident that my goal was within reach.
Along the way, I learned to ask for what I needed to grow my business, for what I thought I was worth, and for new responsibilities I knew I could handle. I also learned to gauge the timing of such conversations. This led to a series of promotions, and three years after starting at Northshore magazine, I stepped into my current position as publisher—one month ahead of my 10-year goal.
On Finding Success and Staying Competitive
I owe my career success and ability to stay competitive in the publishing field to several traits and practices: A thirst for knowledge—investing in training, aligning with mentors, and soaking up industry publications and newsletters to continue to hone my skills; an unwavering commitment to helping my customers and providing real solutions for their businesses; personal integrity, high standards, and high expectations of my staff; and a vision that drives innovative products, new revenue streams, and a growth trajectory that defies trends. I also network regularly, attending multiple events each week to grow my personal and professional brand.
On the Importance of Role Models and Mentors
I’ve been fortunate to have had incredible bosses every step of the way. Two in particular took an interest in my career early on—my advertising director at Cincinnati Magazine and my publisher at Design New England. Each helped me navigate from role to role by teaching and encouraging me, acting as a sounding board, and leading by example. I have stayed in touch over the years and continue to learn from them even though we are no longer at the same company.
Kelly’s Advice to Young Women Starting Careers
Young women today need to have a strong work ethic, as well as a desire to better themselves and the company that employs them. They need to be invested in outcomes. They need to work on their craft and not expect anything to be handed to them. Young women who are willing to “learn it and earn it” are standouts in companies often drained by entitled, ineffective, and unproductive employees.