Marketing Strategy Consultant - Christie Ray

"Several months in, I finally had a clearer understanding of what a consultant does, and realized that I really enjoyed the work. For me, it is the perfect combination of creative thinking, analytical thinking, and problem solving."

christie ray.jpg

Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do?

I am originally from North Carolina, but now live and work in the best city in the world, New York, New York (I may be a little biased). I moved to NYC after undergraduate school to pursue a career in marketing and advertising, and have been working at a digital agency called Rosetta for the past 2 and a half years as a marketing strategy consultant.

How would you describe your job?

My role as a Senior Associate Consultant is a mixture of problem-solving, strategic thinking, and data analysis. Right now, I work primarily with tech and retail brands to help them improve the way they think about their customers and how they communicate with them. My team conducts a lot of customer and industry research. We analyze the data we get from that research to help brands better understand their customers, relate to them, and meet their interests and needs. I get to come up with the insights and strategies that brands use to make marketing campaigns, products, and websites that resonate better with the people they want to reach.

What does your typical day look like?

My typical day starts with coffee and breakfast at my apartment, followed by a 30 minute subway commute to my office downtown. I pass the time on the train by checking my work email/calendar for the day, reading The Skimm, and people-watching (it never gets old).

Once I am in the office, I catch up with my cubemate, respond to emails, schedule meetings for the day, and jot down a list of to-dos and priorities. I usually have a morning status meeting with my teammates to assess where we are on specific projects and what we need to accomplish. I am typically working on 3-5 small projects at a time for my current tech client, ranging from very quantitative projects (like analyzing our latest round of customer data), to more creative/strategic projects (like putting together a report on the latest tech developments from competitors and how they affect our client’s goals).

 Commute to her office through Tribeca & the Financial District.

Commute to her office through Tribeca & the Financial District.

My day is usually a mix of meetings, conference calls (where I’m reviewing progress and results with my team or clients), and desk time, where I’m actually working on the projects, doing data analysis, and building slides. Every day is super different, which is one of the reasons I love it. One day I might spend most of my time crunching numbers in Excel, trying to find out what customers value most about their tech products based on their responses to surveys. The next day, I might spend most of my time in brainstorming meetings with my team, coming up with strategies and recommendations for our clients, and putting these thoughts into charts and slides to present to the client later on.

My coworkers and teammates are one of my favorite parts of the job and day-to-day workflow. They are not only crazy talented and smart, but also genuinely nice people and enjoyable to be around, which I wasn’t sure I would find in a New York workplace. Since every day looks a little bit different, my hours vary. I usually leave the office between 6:30-7:30 pm, and occasionally finish up tasks or emails from home later in the evening.

When did you know this is what you wanted to do?/Why did you want to pursue this career?

I actually had no idea that I wanted to do marketing consulting until I had been doing it for several months. I studied graphic design and journalism in undergrad, but after doing a few design internships, I decided I was more interested in the strategy behind the marketing campaigns than building creative for campaigns.

I ended up finding a social media marketing internship at a media agency in New York when I first moved here, and got a taste of what it was like to brainstorm campaign strategies, help launch campaigns, and then report on the campaigns during and after the fact.  I found that I liked the strategy and analytics side of marketing much more than the creative/design side.

A friend connected me to Rosetta where she was working in marketing consulting, and I started there a few months into my time in New York and hit the ground running (with a lot of on-the-job training in analytical skills). Several months in, I finally had a clearer understanding of what a consultant does, and realized that I really enjoyed the work. For me, it is the perfect combination of creative thinking, analytical thinking, and problem solving.

How many years of schooling/what program did you go to?

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication.

What aspects of your job do you love and what is the most challenging?

My teammates and coworkers are probably one of the best parts of my job. I may work with people on quick projects for a week or two, for a year or more on longer-term projects, or just see them around the office.  Across all levels, the people I work with are constantly helping me be a better consultant, leader, and thinker. They teach me new skills and analysis tricks (and Excel shortcuts!), and they are excited to do what they do - which makes it fun to come to work every day.

I would say the most challenging aspect of my job, but also one of the parts I like most, is the work itself. As a consultant, problem-solving is at the heart of what I do. Figuring out a way to structure a solution to a client’s problem or question can be a huge challenge, but also fun, rewarding, and full of opportunities to learn.

What is the biggest misconception people have about what you do?

There are a lot of misconceptions about what consultants do, or whether we really do anything. I had no idea what a consultant did until I had actually been a consultant for a few months, and I still sometimes struggle to describe the job. When I say I am a marketing consultant for Rosetta, people often think I am an outside consultant brought in for a short time, but in reality, I am a full-time employee at Rosetta in the Consulting group, just like a full-time employee in our Creative or Account or Tech group. The cool part about consulting is you can get exposure to a wide variety of industries and projects by working on different clients over time.

What is the work/life balance like?

Having time and space for my family, friends, and non-work interests is a non-negotiable for me. I try to take time off regularly to go home, go on trips with family and friends, or relax and recharge. I try to leave the office at a decent hour even if it feels like there is more to be done (there will always be more to do) and I try not to open my work laptop on weekends or vacations if I can help it. Smartphones make disconnecting a little harder, but I do my best to prioritize family, friends, and making time to do things I love.

 

What is the salary range for marketing consultants?

The salary range for marketing consulting can vary hugely depending on the size of the firm, the client roster, how much experience you bring to the table, and even the city, but most consultancies offer pretty competitive packages in order to attract and retain top talent.

What would you tell someone who wanted to pursue your career?

Make sure you find out from connections at the consulting firm what the work-life balance is like, how much travel is expected, and what types of promotions and growth opportunities are offered, before you commit to working somewhere. Every firm is different, and some might pay top dollar but not allow any time for your personal life. Make sure you think about the balance you want and find out whether the places you are applying offer that level of balance and flexibility.

It is also important to think through the industries you are most passionate about. Make sure that the firm you choose to work for has plenty of clients in those industries. For me, I love the tech and retail industries, so I am happy to be working at a place where I get exposure to different clients in those industries and learn more every day about the industries I love.

What are your long term goals with your career/job/practice?

For the immediate future, I am excited to keep growing as a consultant and learning more about my clients and industries of interest. Longer-term, I may decide to work on the client side rather than the services side, and leverage my marketing consulting experience for a specific brand or product.

 Tribeca area in lower Manhattan where Christie Ray's office is located.

Tribeca area in lower Manhattan where Christie Ray's office is located.