Today we’d like to introduce you to Carole Neal.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve always been a planner. I mean, I literally sat down as a freshman and planned out my entire four years of college – every single class for every semester – including living abroad. At the time, I marveled at my organizational skills. Now, I look back and laugh at my naivete because life has a way of sending you down some windy roads along your journey.
I’m originally from the East Coast and a big supportive family. I found my way to California after college as part of a management training program. I moved every 6-months for one and a half years and spent time in L.A., Germany, and Virginia. So, even though I’m a planner, I do like taking (calculated) risks. I ended up coming back to Los Angeles because let’s face it – the weather is amazing and continued working full-time in finance with a telecommunications company.
I’m a certified project manager (PMP), with 15+ years of experience in marketing, sales, and finance at leading global brands and national nonprofits. I’m currently working as a marketing consultant with various nonprofits and businesses in different industries. Prior to this, I managed the social media and branding strategy for one of Verizon’s multi-billion-dollar product portfolios.
This past year, I also started teaching an evening class on social media at Loyola Marymount University. I love the student interaction, and we worked directly with several local small businesses to develop and create a social media strategy which increased their brand awareness and sales.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like anyone, I’ve definitely had my share of disappointments and missteps. I think one of my biggest struggles has been trying to figure out work-life balance and be present for my family. At one point, I was starting work between 6 am-6:30 am every morning, working a 10-12 hour day and then trying to be “Supermom” and volunteer at my daughter’s school and other nonprofit organizations.
I literally had nothing left to give anyone and was just wiped out. About 18-months ago my Dad passed away, and it made me stop for a moment and just think about what I wanted to do next. The outcome was that I knew I needed a job that was more closely aligned my personal desire for a greater social impact and my professional skill set.
At the start of this year, I took a leap of faith and started pursuing that dream. I’m now doing some consulting work with nonprofits and public sector organizations, continuing to teach, and serving on boards while I figure out my next move. For a person who at one point had her entire life planned out, this has been a big step in learning to trust myself and get comfortable with the unknown.
What I’ve learned is that holding space in my life for the unknown leads to self-discovery, joy, and new opportunities. Even though I don’t know exactly what’s next, I feel like I’m right where I’m supposed to be and am open to whatever comes my way.
Marketing Consultant – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
In my first job out of college, I remember saying to a friend “I wish I was doing something to make more of a difference.” That feeling has stuck with me, and throughout my career, I’ve always been interested in corporate social responsibility.
I’ve looked for ways to weave that perspective into my personal and professional life. Early in my career, it was participating as a mentor to local elementary students and eventually evolved into leading corporate philanthropic initiatives for some of the companies that I’ve worked for in Los Angeles.
Now, as a consultant, I’m able to leverage my experience as a business person, volunteer, board member, and pro bono consultant (Taproot Foundation) to help companies enhance their social impact, strategic planning, and organizational success.
When I became a parent, I was struck by the disparity in education available to students and wanted to make more of an impact in that sector.
Currently, I serve on boards for Friends of the LAX Dunes (an environmental nonprofit), UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program (AAP) and Green Dot Public Schools. I’m particularly interested in college access and equity for underrepresented and first-generation students.
I enjoy participating in mock interviews or career days to offer students real-world advice. I’ll also lead workshops on networking to help the students prepare for that inevitable interview question of “tell me a little bit about yourself” or to feel more comfortable with networking.
Even as an adult, networking is hard – so imagine what it’s like to be a teenager trying to navigate career fairs and LinkedIn. I’m an advocate for education and recently joined Coro Southern California’s “Lead LA” leadership development program to take a more active role in Los Angeles’ conversation about pressing social issues including educational access and equity.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
At this point in my life, I view success as doing meaningful work that has a positive social impact and allows me to support my family. I love to learn and enjoy working with people who are interesting, smart, and willing to collaborate.
- Website: Friends of the LAX Dunes – www.friendsofthelaxdunes.org
Green Dot Public Schools – www.greendot.orghttps:/
UCLA Academic Advancement Program – www.aap.ucla.edu/
- Twitter: @CN_Mktg
- Other: www.linkedin/in/caroleneal
Alia Kate, AABLI, Nancy Price (Los Angeles World Airports), UCLA Career Bootcamp