Noreen Arora: IDEO

Noreen AroraI, Mike Miller, am not a marketing maverick. I have yet to accomplish or significantly impact the fascinating world of marketing and communication but in time, absolutely!

I am currently a graduate student in Emerson College‘s GMCA program but after speaking with Noreen Arora, a 2010 alum of the GMCA program, I’m excited to graduate and get to work!

Noreen doesn’t give out false hope or anything but she does exemplify success, one that requires hard work, intense passion and an indescribable lust for life. If anything, her journey to her dream job at IDEO is inspiring. If I learned anything from Noreen, it’s that the future looks promising and, dare I say it, fun. Without further ado, meet this week’s Marketing Maverick…

What got you interested in the world of marketing communications?
I want to be the connective tissue that bring people together. I’ve traveled to over 46 countries and I want to be able to connect with people from all walks of life and that drives me and my interest.

Why did you choose to attend GMCA?
I heard about the program from my career counselor at the University of San Diego. I was looking at different graduate programs, specifically for ones that offered MBAs in the realm of marketing communications and advertising, and my counselor discovered GMCA. I was drawn in by the global focus of the program. Since my father is from India and my mother is from Queens, NY, I’ve been exposed to many cultures and religions and I wanted to be immersed in a diversity embracing organization. I wanted that experience and global hyper-focus.

How was your GMCA experience?
Life changing. I am forever grateful to GMCA; it got me into my dream world and even my dream man, who I met on the first day. I am still close with my classmates, who I never know how or where in the world I’ll intersect with, and my network was really built through this program. Enjoy every minute you have left!

Where did you do your GMCA required summer internship?
I did my graduate internship in ‘Emerging Media’ at the Boston ad agency Mullen. It was a truly wonderful experience.

What was the process of applying for internships like?
Hard, but it is something you just have to make happen. Trying to get an internship was like a full-time job; you’re always on the hunt. I must have applied to over a thousand places and it felt hopeless at times since many companies want undergraduates and not graduate interns. I tried so hard, applied to so many places that there was a period of time that I wondered if I’d get anything. I thought about going back to Southern California, where I’m from. But I got offer at Mullen, which I took, even though I was hoping for IDEO, whom I’d met with but had no positions available at the time. Sometimes it takes a leap of faith to stay and I wanted to. It lined up perfectly in the end.

ideo_square_logoHow did you become interested in IDEO?
I read a Harvard Business Review case study on IDEO in class and that got me interested. Later, when a different professor, Kristen Lied, encouraged my classmates and me to go to the Edge club, where the IDEO creative director gave the keynote, I was just blown away. I connected with him afterwards and there was a genuine connection. I was able to meet with people at IDEO in May, soon after GMCA graduation. It was more of an informational meeting where they got to know me. Since I didn’t have a traditional portfolio, like an art student would, I brought my version of a creative one and they loved it. At that time there was no project but I was top of mind for something later and it worked out.

So how did you actually get started at IDEO?
While I was doing my internship at Mullen, an opportunity at IDEO presented itself and I took it. I would happily still be at Mullen otherwise. I started at IDEO as an intern where I worked in half in a business development role and half in marketing communications. It was a time-consuming job that I held for a year and a half until last February when I shifted to the new role. The timing worked out well. I should note that the different tasks gave me an understanding of how the business works and I’m very grateful for the journey I took. It enabled me and it was important.

What do you in your role as Market & Communication Lead for IDEO?
I identify the hidden gems and life stories and communicate them to the outside world and to all 12 IDEO offices. I am hyper local and hyper global, meaning I work with the Boston, NY, and Chicago offices and connect them to the global offices. Basically, I connect studios, internal and external communications, as well as write case studies, manage local media and PR while helping manage Boston content. Being punctual is important, as is knowing how to craft topline headlines.

What role does relationship building play in your work?
Relationships play a huge role especially since marketing with IDEO is about letting the business shine through, which relationships impact. Some relationships are healthy, some are not, but knowing which are or aren’t, though hard, is incredibly valuable. I work with the 65 members of IDEO Boston, and specifically in my MarComm team of 16 at IDEO – we are highly functioning due to great relationships. We put each other as people first, respect one another and as a result, the work comes naturally. We are highly communicative and we have fun.

What about the role of story-telling?
It’s everything. You have to figure out audience, what is the interesting story for that audience. You have to be flexible, nimble, shuffle in between to deliver the right story to the right audience.
How do you unplug?
There isn’t always time but I love to read books. It is my favorite way to be unplugged, to unwind and to just separate myself. However, though I love physical books, I do most of my reading on my iPad.

Is your iPad the screen you see the most of?
No, it is definitely my iPhone. I’m on the move a lot so I always have my phone, and my laptop, with me.

Complete the sentence….
In 10 years, Google will…
provide free internet all over the world.
In 5 years, Twitter will….be a memory.
In 3 years, Facebook will…won’t be as cool.
In 1 year, “the cloud” will…rule the world.
Buzziest Buzz Word….lean in.”
Interesting fact about yourselfhaven’t been on Facebook for almost a year now.

Do you live by any mottos?
Hmm, talk quickly or Life is short, talk fast. I also like the motto of David Kelly, the founder of IDEO, who says if you are not having fun, why are you here?

Barbara LynchChanging gears a bit, what should anyone visiting Boston make sure to do?
Eat at one of Barbara Lynch’s restaurants, like Sportello. I especially recommend a bar I frequent, called Drink. Ha, I even know the address, 348 Congress Street.  If IDEO were in the restaurant business, it would be here. The food is incredible and the dining experience is tremendous. It is wonderful, you always feel taken care of and special. That goes for any BL group restaurant. The service quality and presentation is superb. Oh, and her chef de cuisine at Stir, Kristen Kish, just won Top Chef.

Where in the world do you most want to go?
Well I’m going there this summer, but do a safari in Africa. I’m going on a volunteer trip with my family. You always learn when you travel and my family tries to travel every year. The more you are educated, the more you want to travel so you can learn and experience.

Do you any advice for GMCA grads trying to get into the marketing world?
It is incredibly important to communicate your unique perspective to employers and show your depth of skill and passion. It is equally important to communicate your ability to communicate regarding other disciplines. For me, I love to write. It is one of my deepest skills and helps me communicate with others, be they engineers, designers or clients.

Parting thoughts?
Enjoy the last few weeks even though you are in the middle of exams, projects and capstone. GMCA is a special time. I look back on the time fondly and I want to go back. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, so enjoy it.

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