McCann Tales: I'm Like Madonna, I Just Keep Reinventing Myself
Debbie Fried (pronounced “freed,” not “fried”), Senior PM, is known for her smile - though you might get a different expression as deadlines approach. Debbie is a founding member of the Project Management department at McCann. She has founded, led and retired other departments before that, and has more than once carved out a role for herself by identifying and fulfilling a specific need.
Nina DiSesa, former CCO at McCann, hired Debbie as her Executive Creative Assistant almost 22 years ago…but that didn't last long. Within 15 months, Nina asked Debbie to found and then head up the new Presentations Department dedicated to getting the most out of this fledgling PowerPoint software for New Biz & existing client presentations. For 11 years, Debbie ran a team of computer artists and A/V techs and was a major contributor to McCann Stakeholder Meetings, which were Town Hall-style meetings but on steroids, held at the Waldorf with 1,000-ish people.
Eventually, presentations were integrated into teams, which eliminated the need for the department. So, Debbie took on Business Communications and Continuity (an unusual role) and then found a new role working as a resource manager with a new department called Creative Engineering, which was dedicated to integrating emerging tech into our client work. When asked about her worst day at McCann, Debbie says, “It was the day they let the Creative Engineering team go. They were ahead of their time. I was the only one who wasn't let go. I was saved because I had good relationships and proven adaptability. So, I reinvented myself to another new role as a Project Manager."
When asked why she has stayed at McCann for so long, Debbie says, “It's the people I work with. I like the people I work with and in this day and age, you have to be adaptable, capable of doing different things and being your own advocate in your career."
Debbie also offered up a piece of advice for people in the early stage of their careers: "If you're not happy, find another role for yourself. McCann is a great place. Be your own career advocate and find your right people. I'm happiest now in the role I'm in. Sometimes it just takes time."