From creativity to pragmatism, today’s marketers need to exhibit a wide variety of traits in order to succeed. But, the road to victory isn’t easily paved.
That’s why we’re paying tribute to the most talented up-and-coming marketing professionals who are shaking things up and have forged their own path in the industry.
This year, we introduced the Rising Stars Awards, which highlights five up-and-coming marketers who are already making an impact in the industry.
In the video above, John Lincoln sits down with three of the top 5 finalists to discuss their backgrounds, what excites them in the world of marketing, and any advice they have for those just getting started in their digital marketing career.
Without further adieu, here are some of the winners of the 2021 Ignite Visibility Rising Star Awards:
Top 5 Finalists
Finalist: Greta Gryz
Greta Gryz began her career as a branding specialist and marketing recruiter before she moved into managing a marketing team, which led her to where she is today. As a results-oriented marketing professional, Greta has supported one of the fastest-growing software agencies in Europe, growing its headcount from 150 to almost 650 and reaching an audience of over one million users per quarter.
She led Nixa.io through a complete website redesign and introduced an inbound methodology to the company’s efforts. Those changes resulted in a 116% increase in website visits, 4,200% increase in conversion rate, and 9,333% increase in the number of submissions. At the same time, she advised and consulted many startups in Europe about their marketing strategies and inbound implementation.
Part of her success can be attributed to her unique understanding of customers’ needs, as well as her willingness to help her fellow colleagues and push them to perform at their best. She notes how important it is to find a workplace that believes in you and trusts you will grow in your career. “I would say that it’s not being afraid to fail and just trying and trying and trying again and having the freedom in a company to be able to try and not be afraid that you will lose your job, because you fail.”
To anyone starting their career, Greta suggests, “Put a lot of effort into simplifying your work, so you can spend the most valuable time doing things that actually matter and bring you the most results.”
Finalist: Kim McNichol
As one of the youngest CMOs in the United States, 28-year-old Kim McNichol is consistently breaking barriers. For one, she co-founded a startup called Schoolyard, a production and distribution company based in Los Angeles, CA. As the Co-founder and CMO of Schoolyard, Kim has signed on talent with millions of followers from the TikTok and YouTube realm. She found her way to marketing and where she is today through influencer consulting in the entertainment industry.
As Schoolyard continues to grow, Kim is working on curating a marketing team to match her wit and innovation, amassing a following of her own around lifestyle and marketing, entrepreneurship, and being Filipino-American.
Kim is a driven individual and gives this advice to anyone else chasing their dreams: “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from the game.” She is often first to market and is ready to embrace change and try new things. Her advice to anyone trying to navigate the world of digital marketing is “not to fear new outlets or new mediums and always be open and willing to learn.”
Prior to her roles at Schoolyard, Kim served as a consultant and coordinated social collaborations and partnerships for Hollywood stars with brands like The Catalina Island Company, Evian, Chipotle, PETA, and more.
Finalist: Marc Westray
In the two-and-a-half years Marc Westray has been working with Interpreters Unlimited, the company has received more press than ever.
Not only has Marc improved press relations, but he’s revamped existing content to maximize SEO, which resulted in a 3,000% increase in Google search impressions a 124% increase in new website visitors per month, and a 261% increase in website leads.
Marc also refreshed the company’s email marketing, leading to a 96% increase in clicks including a 36% increase in brand first-time clicks, as well as Interpreters Unlimited’s social media presence, which yielded a 204% increase in clicks from social media to the website.
Marc’s advice to his peers in the world of digital marketing is to “stay educated. Marketing is an everchanging animal and there are always adjustments and changes that can be made.”
Finalist: Matt Oney
Matt Oney has been working in digital marketing for a tech startup for more than five years, acquiring a ton of knowledge along the way.
As roles and priorities began to shift at Guidebook, he found himself focusing more on content marketing and SEO. Before long, he was responsible for producing and launching webinars, running paid social and search ads, and managing the agency.
Today, he has transformed his love for SEO into a passion project, eventually launching Zenmaster Wellness, a company that aims to help consumers discover the best products in the mental health space.
Regardless of your career path, Matt suggests, “Stay humble, admit you don’t know everything. Take that and move forward to learn.”
Finalist: Stephanie Buga
After joining AMOpportunities as an intern, Stephanie Buga quickly climbed the ranks to eventually become the company’s Content Specialist.
Stephanie shares her experience in the job market, “So many jobs labeled ‘entry level’ ask for 3-5 years of experience, which can deter less experienced but talented individuals from applying and interviewing.” She urges recent graduates and young professionals to strive for their goals and never give up.
From taking courses to completing certifications, she is consistently sharpening her skill set and honing her marketing skills. Stephanie has also mastered the art of educating customers without overtly selling and works diligently to ensure that she’s always up-to-date with the latest developments in both the marketing and healthcare education industries.
In her current role, Stephanie writes an array of content tailored to meet the needs of multiple audiences, even taking it upon herself to start publishing more newsletters and launch a brand new blog, which subsequently resulted in a spike in readership. And without any social media experience, Stephanie has managed to grow AMOpportunities’s followers and reach in record time.
Even though she is still starting her career, Stephanie wants to share these words of advice: “Work to build new skills and brush up on those you have daily. Soon, you’ll be able to see improvements in your work, and recognition will follow!”
In addition to plenty of praise and recognition, each winner will receive the following prizes:
- A feature in multiple online publications
- An interview on the Ignite Visibility podcast
- A Rising Star award mailed directly to you
- A full set of Ignite Visibility swag
We also wanted to give a special shout out to our runner-ups, who have also been making great strides in their marketing careers:
With only two years of marketing experience, Aida Grigoryan has already been featured on websites like cmswire.com, databox.com, and tapfiliate.com, and has published more than 10 blog posts while working at two of Armenia’s top digital marketing agencies—Incredo and Andava. Her article—”SaaS Thank You Page Best Practices To Nurture and Convert Your Leads (+6 Examples)”—won 3rd place in the 2020 SaaS Brief MVP Awards Customer Success category.
Since joining the Ascent team in June of 2019 as the company’s Content Generation Marketer, Alicia has more than doubled their social media following, established and sustained a record 55% engagement rate on Instagram, and increased organic traffic by 33% year over year. Alicia’s passion for content began when she was a staff writer for her college newspaper. Soon after, she quickly mastered writing brand-focused content and connecting with consumers directly through social media.
Against all odds, Branda Johnson officially launched her own agency—Branda J Communications—during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, serving clients in the fashion, beauty, and healthcare industries. She consulted on the “Limos to the Polls” initiative surrounding the 2020 election, crafted the marketing materials, and secured over 40 media placements.
Catherine Llamido wears many hats as a marketer and is proud of what marketing has done for her personal growth. As a Performance Marketing Manager, her role involves running social ads, search ads, and SEO. She is known to challenge her clients and colleagues to experiment and take risks, while still driving results. She has built a reputation as both an organized producer and teacher and is always sharing what she learns with others.
Gaby Hernandez Franch
Gaby Hernandez Franch oversees author projects and events for Fig Factor Media, an international publishing media company. She’s also worked on award-winning campaigns for Young Latina Day and A Safe Haven.
After joining Vye in 2017, Jashmin Nakarmi has helped the agency earn several marketing awards. She has also volunteered with AdFed and AIGA since graduating from college.
Entrepreneur and host of the top-ranked podcast The Launch Fix, Jess O’Connell knows exactly how to plan and execute high-profile product debuts. Since 2018, she’s led multiple online launches that resulted in high five-figure and six-figure revenues. In 2021, her business is on track to generate $450,000 in revenue.
Serving as JJR Marketing’s Mission manager since 2018, Kylie Knur is well-versed in domestic and international project management, event planning, creative strategy, public relations, and social media. Her accomplishments include helping to launch a worldwide, 12-day virtual festival where participants are connected to more than 50 breathwork practitioners who provide them with breathwork tools, tips, and tricks.
Within five years, Lauren Webster has found success in various forms of marketing from digital to social. Most recently, she launched Brunchaholic, a top resource for connecting New Yorkers and restaurants, and expanded the business in the spring of 2020 to include a product lifestyle box called Brunch Box.
Madison Yeack began her marketing journey as a consultant for a variety of companies, spanning industries like non-profit, cybersecurity, global device management and deployment, and technology. Her knack for organization and planning enabled her to eventually launch her own international marketing and business development agency called Maika Global and serve as the company’s CEO.
Mariie Velez has played a major role in building the FMS brand since joining the company. Her strategic insights and development of the organization’s marketing strategy have resulted in more brand awareness and more leads. Current year-to-date organic sales are up 13% over the prior year as a result of increased sales funnel activities.
With expertise in content writing, technical SEO, and personal finance, Shane Griffiths has helped two SEO websites rank in the top 10 for competitive SEO and Google Ads search terms in Seattle, WA. And after making notable improvements in the agency’s reporting processes, he was promoted to Senior SEO Specialist faster than anyone in the history of the company.
To the above-mentioned winners and runner-ups, we congratulate you all for a job well done. May your marketing career continue to flourish!