Lesson on Leadership | Inspiring Women in Business | UIowa American Marketing Association

A Lesson on Leadership Taught by Three of the Most Inspiring Women in Business

Written by: Rhiana Chickering

On Friday, September 30, 2016, three inspirational women of Von Maur, a billion-dollar retail company, visited The University of Iowa: Melody Wright, Chief Operations Officer; Gayle Haun, Director of Human Resources; and Amy Rotert, Vice President of Stores.

In order to have an intimate discussion with the Von Maur business leaders, 10 American Marketing Association members and 10 Women in Business members met Melody, Gayle, and Amy at The Iowa Memorial Union for a lunch discussion.

Dressed in professional business attire, and fashionable heels (of course!), they stood at the front of the room, and spoke to us regarding their roles at Von Maur.

Gayle, Director of HR at Von Maur, shared her experiences from her Human Resources perspective. Her HR position consists of many human resource details such as hiring, training, employee benefits, and handling any issues that arise.

Amy, VP of Stores at Von Maur, ensures that the security and needs of each Von Maur store is met. For example, if there is a break-in at a store, she must drop everything she is working on at that moment and travel to the store as soon as possible.

Melody Wright, Chief Operations Officer of Von Maur, explained what her position entailed as a COO as she oversees the business operations of Von Maur. Melody ensures that business operations are running smoothly by making crucial decisions that affect everyone in the company and by communicating with her employees.

The discussion was quite personal and advice driven, which was interesting and beneficial deriving from their work life experiences that we could learn from.

A key topic in our discussion was in regard to work-life balance. Melody’s questions for us was, “How important is that to you?” As it turns out, financial stability is more important than work-life balance to the three Von Maur leaders, as it is for much of us who attended the Von Maur lunch.

Melody gave us valuable advice to travel somewhere for your career, regardless of your boyfriend or husband’s resistance because relocation helps people develop mentally and socially. Many of us know someone who has given up an extraordinary opportunity to stay with her boyfriend, so this was a piece of advice that many women need to hear.

However, one should not be busy trying to “climb the career ladder.” Titles of positions never mattered to Melody, Gayle, or Amy. They should strive to succeed by working to the best of their ability while enjoying their work, and success will follow.

No matter how successful a person becomes, he or she must stay grounded. Never think lowly of anything or anyone.

One should always feel that no job is too lowly. As Melody advised, “If you see a gum wrapper on the floor, pick it up.” Never think you are above any task.

In addition to general career advice, they spoke to us about more specific aspects of careers and internships.

No matter what position individuals are in, they must always take notes to refer back to when a manager or coworker provides them with instructions. However, most importantly, we must be able to accept feedback. Instead of becoming defensive, we must ask how we may improve. Constructive criticism should be considered a form of training.

Even managers have room for improvement, which is why Melody believes managers must learn from those they manage.

Ultimately the key to success is to work hard.

The most successful people in life never feel completely prepared for their next promotion; they may even feel scared because they understand that they must learn, change and work extremely hard throughout their position as they prove that they can succeed in their new career.

All of us were extremely pleased with the expertise of three of Von Maur’s inspirational leaders as they explained their careers throughout the discussion.

Melody, Gayle, and Amy equipped us with knowledge that students cannot obtain from classes, but only learn from experience and from those who have experienced such a variety of leadership and non-leadership positions. We can use the additional knowledge they have shared with us through their expertise to improve ourselves in our future career.

Giving a jump to electric cars

Source: Tom Snee, IowaNow

UI competition to help Alliant Energy meet sustainability goals by encouraging electric-vehicle use

The UI’s Tippie College of Business chapter of the American Marketing Association will host Alliant Energy’s University Challenge Case Competition with teams from four other Iowa schools, all considering new ways to address the Cedar Rapids–based utility’s goal. A panel of judges, mostly from Alliant Energy, will study the teams’ entries and may use the students’ findings as part of the company’s overall marketing plan to encourage broader use of EVs.

Besides the Tippie team, competitors represent the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Luther College in Decorah, and St. Ambrose University in Davenport. Alliant Energy is asking the teams to consider several factors that prevent electric vehicles from being more widely purchased, such as cost and availability, among other barriers. The students will also consider what factors motivated those drivers who have already purchased electric vehicles to do so.

The students will use their findings to suggest strategies Alliant Energy can use to encourage more drivers within firm’s service area to drive electric vehicles.

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Spring 2016 Semester Info Meetings


Come enjoy some snacks and learn about AMA. We would love to see your faces there, new and old. This is a great group to grow as a professional, meet people, and learn new things!

We will be having TWO info meetings:

Thursday, Janurary 28, 6:00-8:00pm in W107 PBB
Monday, February 1, 4:30-5:30pm in S401 PBB

See you there!

-Your Exec Board

Hawk-Tober Festival Fall Philanthropy!

On October 25th @ Hubbard Park the University of Iowa’s American Marketing Association chapter will be hosting a fall event, Hawk-Tober Festival, to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The event will start at 11 AM and end at 4 PM and there will be an entrance donation fee of $5 per person.

At this event students and families will have the opportunity to enjoy fall foods such as baked goods and apple cider. There will be many activities to enjoy as face painting, carnival games, balloon animals, live music and more. There will also be a brief presentation by the philanthropy group and information on their cause and how to help! Guests will also be able to take photos great fall photos with a scarecrow and paint pumpkins. Come out an enjoy all the fun festivities and help contribute to a wonderful cause!

Warm Wishes from UIowa AMA!

Check for updates on our Social Media!

Kick Off the School Year At Our First Informational Meeting

The American Marketing Association of the University of Iowa has exciting news for this coming school year! During the summer the executive board has been working hard to organize dates and events that will enhance the experience of all AMA members. We want our members to have a voice, working with executives, to experience hands-on leadership and have a more productive, fruitful year. Through different committees, members will work with appointed executive board members to fulfill the goals of each committee. These committees include working with alumni relations, event planning, fundraising, and much more.

A new addition this year is our Professional Development executive position, which will amplify the focus on members’ professional development with AMA. Members will have opportunities to learn from prestigious guest speakers, AMA alumni, and team-building activities. Workshops to enhance member resumes, business cards, elevator pitches, and interview skills will be incorporated into weekly meetings.

Of course, this year will be full of great events including professional trips to marketing and advertising agencies, participation in regional and national AMA conferences, philanthropic festivals and activities, and the annual Tippie Case Competition.

This is only a glimpse of what AMA will accomplish this year, however we have much more in store. Stay posted for more information and upcoming events!

If you would like to know more about what we can offer you, please attend our first informational meeting. It will be held on: Thursday, September 3rd in S121 PBB at 6:00PM.

We hope to see you there!

Our Trip to Four Businesses in Kansas City

Last week, sixteen of our University of Iowa American Marketing Association members travelled to Kansas City, MO marketing agencies for our Spring 2015 Professional Trip. Every semester, AMA members look forward to getting the chance to tour and meet one-on-one with top marketing companies, and this semester’s professional trip did not disappoint.


Our trip began early morning on Thursday, March 26 and our first stop was to the vibrant headquarters for Barkley, an independent marketing agency. Barkley is the largest employee-owned advertising agency in the U.S. and works with clients like Dairy Queen, Vanity Fair, and Spirit. AMA had the opportunity to meet with recruiting manager, Jennifer Karns, and HR coordinator, Heather Giarratana, to ask questions about the work that Barkley does and about internship and full-time job opportunities that are available. We especially loved the tour of Barkley’s open floor plan and the inside peek to strategy, creative, and social media departments.

After a great start to the trip with a visit to Barkley, AMA took time to wander around Kansas City’s Power and Light District and built up quite an appetite. We grabbed a bite to eat at BRGR Kitchen + Bar (more like giant mouthfuls of delicious burgers and classic American meals) and then headed back to our hotel to prepare for the next day of visits.


Our second day started out with a bang as we met with the entire team from BIGSHOT Inbound who specialize in inbound marketing-based strategies for the healthcare industry. AMA members took shifts meeting with BIGSHOT members from each department and had the opportunity to explore what each department does on a daily basis. Our members were ecstatic about getting to talk to each department one-on-one and had a lot of fun doing so!

AMA’s third stop was to Hint, a digital content and strategic marketing group that has an impressive portfolio including work for LinkedIn, Apple and H&R Block. Our members took a tour of Hint’s office and even got to steal a sneak peek at their “Bloody-Merry-Go-Rounds” that they created for the Kansas City Design Week. Afterwards, Hint’s Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Growth, Dan Barker, met with the group to discuss the projects that are currently being worked on and gave honest and insightful advice to our graduates that were soon to be entering the workforce.

What’s a trip to Kansas City without tasting some amazing BBQ? After our stops to BIGSHOT Inbound and Hint, AMA stopped by the legendary and original Arthur Bryant’s for the best pulled pork and burnt ends sandwiches around. After refueling with some awesome grub, we headed out to our final stop.

On our way out of Kansas City, we met with Don Costante, Event Presentation and Production Specialist from the Constante Group, at Kauffman Stadium. Our members got an inside look to what the marketing team for the Kansas City Royals are currently working on as well as a VIP tour of the stadium. We were even allowed into the stadium’s control room, the Royals Hall of Fame, and on the field!

It’s safe to say that our Spring 2015 Professional Trip was a huge success. AMA truly appreciates all of the companies that met with us during our trip and showed us such hospitality. Our members learned many things about each company and gained some great tips on searching and interviewing for marketing positions. We hope to see everyone again when AMA comes back to Kansas City!


Join Our Marketing and Advertising Career Fair

AMA is working with Students in Advertising to put together the first annual Marketing and Advertising Career Fair. This event is targeted towards marketing, advertising, communications, and graphic design students at the University of Iowa who are eager to find jobs. The career fair will also be open to all University of Iowa students interested in finding jobs and internships.


The event will be held on Friday, April 3 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm in the Pappajohn Business Building at the University of Iowa. The first hour will be open exclusively to American Marketing Association and Students in Advertising members. At 3:00pm, the event will be open to all University of Iowa students.There is a $5 admission fee for non-American Marketing Association and non-Students in Advertising members.


Recruiters from marketing and advertising companies from around the Midwest are encouraged to participate. The goal of this career fair is to facilitate an open exchange between businesses and University of Iowa job-seekers who have an avid interest in the marketing and communications field.


For more information about the event, please contact AMA’s president, Jake Glendenning, at jacob-glendenning@uiowa.edu.

If your business is interested in participating in this career fair, email Cassie at cassandra-hansen@uiowa.edu by Monday, March 23.


We hope to see you there!


AMA is preparing for Professional Trip to KC

The Spring 2015 professional trip is just around the corner! This semester, twenty University of Iowa AMA members will travel to Kansas City, MO to meet with a handful of marketing and advertising companies. At each stop, members get a taste of what it’s like to work at leading marketing agencies with a tour of the company’s facilities and a focused panel discussion with representatives from the company. The group visits three or four companies within a two day time period. The companies visited are typically a mix of small and large size and can include a range of B2B agencies, advertising firms, sports marketing, marketing research, digital marketing, and internal marketing departments. So far, AMA has secured meetings with two Kansas City companies: BIGSHOT Inbound and Barkley.


BIGSHOT Inbound specializes in inbound marketing-based new patient acquisition strategies for the healthcare industry and is a HubSpot Platinum Partner. Barkley is the largest employee-owned advertising agency in the U.S. and works with many prestigious clients like Adidas, Target, Sonic, and H&R Block. AMA hope to add more companies to the professional trip’s roster, and those will be announced soon.


The group will depart from Iowa City on Thursday, March 26 and will return on Friday night after two days of professional development and networking. Stay tuned for updates about the trip!