Interview: Sally Seye- PR Manager for Samsung Electronics at Eventcom

Sally Seye
          Meet Sally Seye. A 2010 graduate of Indiana University, Sally now works for Eventcom as a Public Relations Manager for     Samsung Electronics in Dakar, Senegal. With three goals in life to stay true to herself, love like there’s no tomorrow, and become a legend, it’s safe to say she’s a successful PR woman. Attending high school and being a part of the same dance team together, it’s been exciting to somewhat watch Sally’s career change and grow via Facebook. As a PR woman myself, I found her posts intriguing and I had to know more about what she does and sneak in some advice as well.

What was your major in College? 
 
I majored in Journalism and minored in Marketing. Luckily I had a lot of freedom when it came to specializing my course load so I was able to take every communication class under the sun from PR, advertising, graphic design, telecommunication, copy writing, to magazine writing; you name it I probably took it. Also, in the business school I was able to knock out all of the prerequisites in about 3 semesters which helped me to be able to focus on marketing and finance for the rest of the time which really helped maximize my experience. 
 
Did you participate in any internships during college? 

Heck Yes! I was interning every chance I got and was also involved in the Student Advertising Agency. I interned in New York, Cincinnati, and at IU. Anything I could find to expand my portfolio, I did it. The good thing about internships is that once you have one successful internship under your belt you become so much more appealing to other companies. After my first summer interning in New York, I was offered internships at Chanel, Gucci, Betsey Johnson, and Harper’s Bazaar among others for the following summer.

What is a day at work like for you at Eventcom?
 
The thing about my job is that I never know what I’m going to be getting into that day. I handle the PR but I also work directly with the marketing manager and assist with the marketing activities as well. We handle all communications for Samsung in about 9 countries, all french speaking except for Gambia so there is definitely  a lot of work to go around! If I’m not handling PR requests and preparing for events, then I’m drafting up the marketing proposals for all activities during the quarter or making the monthly marketing report. Sometimes I feel as though there aren’t enough hours in the day!   
 
Right now I am preparing for the 3rd Annual Samsung Africa Forum in Cape Town that will start on March 12th and I have so much to do that even my to-do list has a to-do list. I have to choose the list of media that will be attending, contact them, confirm them, register them, help them get visas, book their day trips while in South Africa, translate press releases issued from South Africa, get everyone on the plane for Africa Forum, and then make sure everyone is looked after while in South Africa. Then when I get back I’ll have to follow all the media coverage and make an extensive report of the trip and all coverage received and calculate things like the AVE. 
 
What do you enjoy most about working for Eventcom? 
 
 I suppose what I enjoy the most about my job is also what frustrates me the most about my job and that is the high pressure, last-minute situations that I’m always dealing with. It’s a double-edged sword. 
 
I also love being able to travel and enjoy the once in a lifetime experiences that I’ve been able to be a part of i.e  organizing travel and accompanying the Senegalese Olympic Torch Bearers chosen by Samsung for the Summer Olympics in London this year. 
 
Was it always your plans to move outside of the U.S?
 
 Actually not at all! After graduation I was planning on moving to New York and work in fashion PR and Marketing. Then one night at dinner with my parents, right before graduation I might add, my mom kind of sprung the idea on me. To clarify, my parents are Senegalese and they’ve always wanted me to spend more time exploring my culture and Africa but it just wasn’t a priority for me while I was in school. At first I really wasn’t into it at all and then the more I talked to my parents about it the more the idea started to grow on me. I can you now say that it is the best decision I’ve ever made! 
 
What people don’t realize is that all of the global companies that are household names (like Proctor and Gamble, Ernst Young, Samsung, Ogilvy, Saatchi & Saatchi etc) have offices in developing economies and focus a lot of resources on developing these markets (Africa, Asia, South America) and there are always positions available for young bright-eyed and eager Americans. 
 
You get the benefit of working for a global company and having the global company support system while being able to challenge yourself and be truly utilized because of the value of your education. I can say that the things I am doing now in my job I would have to wait normally 2-5 years to do if I was at a firm in the states. I am not an assistant manager but a manager handling PR & Communications for a global company at the age of 24. When was the last time you’ve heard of that happening in the states? 

What did you do while working at the Crossroads Center?
 
A: Working at the Crossroads Center was like my first “big girl” job. The Crossroads Center is a non-profit organization for drug & alcohol rehabilitation. I was working in one of the community outreach programs setting up activities and developing newsletters etc. I learned so much while working there. I was able to learn the in and outs about how companies work, the chain of command, and search for new ways to incorporate PR and communications in the non-profit sector. It was challenging yet very rewarding!

What do you do to de-stress and stay motivated?
 
 My favorite thing to do to de-stress is to spend time with the people who matter the most to me in life. My fiance, my family, & my friends. They help me to realize that it’s just a job and that I work to live not live to work. I also find comfort in knowing that this is just a stepping stone in my career and that I’m portable so the thought of not feeling “stuck” really puts things into perspective as well. 
 
To stay motivated I have to admit that I do the oddest thing. I listen to the Art of War by Sun Tzu on my phone. I’ll listen to a couple quotes before a big meeting, when I’m feeling down, or just in the car while on my way to work. It helps me to clear my head, stay focused, and makes me feel like I am ready for anything. 
 
Do you think you’ve found your career niche?
 
Right now at this point in my life, I feel as though I’ve found a career path that I really enjoy. I can’t say that I’ve found my niche just yet because I am open to different experiences in the future. I like changing things up from time to time and challenging myself, so you never know! I could be a farmer in 5 years…. Ok, maybe not a farmer but you get the point. I like the idea of the unknown, just seeing where life takes me and picking up experiences along the way. 

What do you enjoy about Public Relations?
 
 I love that PR is no longer the small niche that it used to be. Now there are so many careers paths for those interested in PR and it overlaps with so many other sectors as well – like marketing, advertising, and events. I like that PR is what you make of it. You can be imaginative, creative, and have fun with it. Every idea might not work out but when you find a memorable one it makes it worth while. I also like that you can SEE your work. You’re not just writing reports or press releases but you’re reaching out to people, planning events, and developing PR campaigns. There is nothing like seeing an article or billboard for something that you helped developed. Or receiving thank you emails after a successful event. It’s very hands on! 

What advice would you give to PR students? and those who are soon to graduate?
 
 First I would advise them to start interning right away! These days it makes a big difference! Companies want to hire someone who has a solid background and foundation so that they don’t have to start from the beginning. Also try to get involved with as many campus organizations as you can, this looks great on your resume and it will allow you to connect with alumni who might be able to help you find a job once you graduate. Lastly, find yourself a professional mentor, the easiest is to find a professor that you really like and respect and ask them. They will appreciate the request and will help open a lot of doors for you and help to keep you on track. 
 
For those about to graduate, buy a business card holder and start collecting business cards from everyone you meet; and make sure you write a little note on the card about where and when you met that person so you know exactly who you’re talking to if you decide to contact them in the future. Also it wouldn’t hurt to make your own business cards, with technology these days there’s so much you can do. Put a QR code on it that leads to your online resume and blog. Future employers appreciate creativity and effort. Make yourself noticeable! Also, never burn a bridge! Always stay in contact with past companies that you’ve interned for and professors etc, you never know who they may know or when their contact will come in handy. 
 
Finally, ENJOY YOUR COLLEGE EXPERIENCE! College was the best time of my life and even though I was focused on school I always tried to balance it with truly getting the full college experience. I joined a sorority, different clubs, and tried to visit different schools as well. I have friends that now regret some of the times they chose to stay in or stay at the library all day and night instead of going out and making unforgettable memories! Now I’m not saying be mediocre or flunk out of school but I’m saying enjoy the FULL college experience! 

What advice would you give to those who want to move to another city to pursue their career?
 
 I would say RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Moving out of your comfort zone is no easy task especially if it’s the first time. Research the location, the standard of living, the quality of life, the places where young professionals like to live, and reading reviews and opinions never hurts. Starting any new job can be scary so imagine how much scarier it can be if you’re in a new city or country with no real support system. You have to make sure its something you really want to do because if it’s not you wont last a month. 
 
Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of moving before anything else. Also set specific goals, it will help you to stay on track with where you want to be, help you to access your ROI, and it will help to keep you motivated once you reach a goal. Also make sure you have a positive outlook! It’s not the end of the world to go out on your own! It can be fun! And don’t forget, everyone is just a plane ride away.
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