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Inspired By Issue No. 4 - Katrina Connelly, Chief Administrative Officer at Faraci Lange

Alexis and I met during our freshman year of college at the Fashion Institute of Technology one night when we all went out to the local FIT bar, and we've been friends ever since! After our freshman year, we both moved to the same upper east side neighborhood in Manhattan and lived within a block from each other for the next 6 years or so. Today she is one of the few people I still keep in touch with from my NYC days now that I am living back in Upstate New York!

 

1. Tell us about yourself and your background.

I grew up in a small town in Upstate New York called Holley.  I graduated with less than 100 people so naturally, I was dying to get out of my small town and go to the “Big City”!  I only applied for one college and that was the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and when I found out I got in, I was beyond excited to know that I had “made it” and was going to go live in NYC!

2. What brought you to a career in Marketing and what keeps you there? 

I got my bachelor’s degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications from FIT in 2007.  When I initially applied to the school, I wanted to go for Fashion Design as I often made my own clothes in high school and liked making clothes for my friends as well.  One of the criteria for the application was to submit a portfolio and since I didn’t have one, I chose a different degree from the business side of the school and figured I could switch my major once there.  However, once I started taking classes, I really enjoyed the marketing and advertising classes and realized that there was so much more I could do with a degree in advertising and marketing than a degree in fashion design.

I have had the ability to use my degree in two very different jobs since graduation.  My first job out of college was at 4Kids Entertainment, a licensing agency devoted to the creation, development, production, broadcasting, distribution and manufacturing of children’s entertainment products.  In my role as Brand Manager, I oversaw the day-to-day marketing & licensing activities on popular kids’ brands such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and Monster Jam.  This was a very cool and fun job to have right out of college and I was able to use what I had learned in college.  That’s not always the case for recent college grads especially these days.

When I decided I wanted to move back to Rochester, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find a job in marketing, but I was.  I landed the job I have now (although my role has greatly changed) at a personal injury law firm called Faraci Lange as the Marketing Assistant.  Our firm does a lot of traditional advertising such as TV and radio so I manage that along with our website and social media presence and many other forms of marketing that our firm and attorneys partake in.

Marketing is an ever-changing business that can be applied in any industry which is why I love it and why I will continue to pursue careers in this field.

3. What are some of the primary challenges/obstacles that you face as the Chief Administrative Officer at Faraci Lange, LLP? 

My role has changed significantly over the years.  When I first started I was somewhat of a second assistant to our firm’s Managing Partner.  I helped him with any and everything that was related to the firm’s business operations with a focus on the marketing.  After a little less than a year at the firm, I realized there was an opportunity for me to grow in my position, but that I needed more training so I spoke with the Managing Partner about pursing my MBA.  I picked out a program that worked best for my schedule and after the lengthy application process was accepted into the Simon School of Business’s Executive MBA program.  I graduated in 2013 and upon graduation was promoted to the Chief Administrative Officer of the firm and took over management of all staff.  THIS has been the biggest obstacle in my current role.  Going from my first role to one of management was not easy and one I tried to approach delicately.  I think I have learned a lot from this transition and I think I did so tactfully, but it still presents its challenges on a daily basis.

4. If you could restart your career, what would you change? 

I don’t think I would change anything.  I think everything I have done has been a learning experience and the older I get the more I realize that we never stop learning, we’re not always right, and there is always room for improvement.

5. How do you approach work life and personal life balance? 

I’m not good at this at all.  I have a very bad habit of always saying yes and never saying no when it comes to work and so I often overcommit myself and my time.  In order to have somewhat of a personal life, I sleep less than I would like.  I wish I had a better answer for this, but it’s the truth.  Most days I wake up at 4:45, go to the gym, work from8 am-6 pm and then meet a friend for dinner and go home to bed.  On the weekends, I try to make it into the office at least one day because it’s so much easier to get work done without anyone here.

6. Tell us one tip that you would give a young woman who is trying to advance in her career?

Ironically one tip I would give is to say yes to as much as possible.  I have had several interns and one of the things I hate hearing from them is that they can’t do something.  I would much rather someone try and fail than say no at the start.  Also, always be on time, dress appropriately and do your best to read people and know how to act at certain moments.  I had one assistant in the past that would come into my office when I was visibly stressed and trying to meet a deadline and want to tell me about what is going on in her life.  I couldn’t understand how she couldn’t read my body language and realize that I didn’t want to talk to her at that moment. 

7. Anything else you would like to share? 

I think anyone can accomplish anything if they are driven enough.  I know that sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s true.  If you want it, go get it.  It’s not always easy, but if your passion shines through you will succeed.

 

Alexis here! When I think back to our college days, I remember how Katie always received A's on all of her assignments! She's super smart and hardworking - I'm not surprised that she has excelled in her career. I'm sure she makes an awesome manager and is open to learning more every day! 

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