We exchanged emails for this interview and it has been slightly condensed and edited.
Marc Goldberg: Tell me about your background, so many characters above your name!
Helene Parker: My name is Hélène Parker and I was born and raised in Senegal, a small west African country where the official language is French amongst a few other dialects, hence why Hélène is pronounced “Ellen” – the H is silent. My origins are from Cape Verde, a Portuguese Island also in West Africa and my grandmother was from Lebanon (RIP Nana). I moved here 15 years ago for college and I’ve always known I wanted to work in marketing watching my mom work on her marketing presentation, growing up. At that time she was a marketing director for an airline company and I always was super fascinated by the big boards and presentation papers she had (Yes, y’all, be thankful we have Powerpoint and Canva today!!! Can you imagine carrying those big things around for client meetings?)
MG: So where did your work journey begin?
HP: I started as a Programmatic Media Trader working for an agency in Virginia beach 7+ years ago. A few years later, I moved into planning and strategy and then leading the team at the agency as the Director of Programmatic Media, before getting laid off the day I returned from my vacation – A story for another article :-).
MG: So you have gotten to wear a few agency hats?
HP: If there’s one thing people in our industry love to brag about is the fact that you get to wear multiple hats working for the agency world. Here’s a positive thing about that: yes! True! You get to develop new skills by sharing responsibilities outside of your “job description”. I have learned how to manage, plan for, and report on omni channel media campaigns in programmatic, paid search, and paid social media campaigns. You get to collaborate with other teams such as creative, account team, sales, data analytics, etc. You also get to touch different AdTechs so I’m very good at being able to log into an DSP for instance, and give me a couple days and I will figure out how to run a successful campaign. The downside of it all is that we pride ourselves into working longer hours claiming a work life balance that I don’t think is truly valued and understood. We unfortunately associate the amount of hours with productivity and success. But who doesn’t enjoy occasional happy hours after those long work days, huh?
MG: So what is your role now?
HP: 2-3 years ago, I decided to take the leap in entrepreneurship (which was honestly and always burning inside of me for years now) and build a business that I am proud of, Helene Parker Consulting LLC.
I’ve acquired a pretty dope network over the years and had many opportunities to do freelancing and contracting work here and there in the last five years. I realized that my loyalty was not really for an agency but for the transparency and the integrity of the actual work.
So I decided to start something for myself and have never looked back since.
Before working from home was mandatory, I wanted to create something for myself that would complement my family values and my personal health above all as a new mom and back then newly wedded to my college sweetheart.
If you ask what my Why is, I will tell you to retire my mother in the next 3 years (so check-in in 2024) and gain financial and time freedom for my family. I am building a table where my nieces and nephews will have a seat and will focus on shining their God given gifts as they will not have the same barriers I have and am still facing to some extent. I value mental and physical health and have set the business up to complement my client’s professional and personal needs.
MG: So what is you are doing , give me your Elevator pitch
HP: OK OK here’s the pitch
Hi I’m Hélène, Chief Programmatic Sensei and Founder of Hélène Parker Consulting LLC.
Marketing and Advertising agencies I’ve worked with, have become 25% more effective internally and their teams more efficient in digital media activation after three months or less. I provide support by implementing operational workflow and comprehensive programmatic and digital media campaigns. I truly love to work with agencies as they really only need guidance on how to implement internal systems allowing their team to thrive while focusing on campaign performances and analysis. Now, who do you know that I can help today? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will figure out how I can best assist you.
Additionally to being a Programmatic Sensei, I am the host of the Programmatic Digest podcast, where I interview fellow programmatic and digital ninjas about 1-2 industry topics
MG: Tell me about the podcast? What do you discuss? Who has been on?
HP: Oh I like to say I started the podcast for selfish reasons! I wanted to learn with no limitations and boundaries. It was challenging, scary but above it all, very rewarding as I got to talk to some pretty bomb ass individuals including you. The Guests I’ve interviewed always had some type of influence on me and the decisions I make as a business owner and as a Programmatic media expert. The podcast is called Programmatic Digest because I needed help digesting the intricate and quickly advancing industry. We discussed one or two main topics per episode. We, as an industry, are so great at information overload and I wanted to make sure I cover one topic of interest because you can only digest so much at once. So we discuss everything and anything that is related to programmatic and digital media, data analytics, advertising technology, and creative topics, and more. It’s a conversation with other pretty amazing digital media ninjas like You and I and I can end by saying this, I just heard Chris Do say on The AdCast podcast: “if you want to learn something, teach it.” Help support the mission of the podcast and follow us on iTunes and subscribe to our YouTube channel (very recently launched, yay!!!).
I am now accepting sponsorship opportunities and if any of your readers are interested in advertising on the Pod, please email me at email@example.com.
MG: You had me and our CEO Shailin Dhar on recently We really had a good time, loved the format, even if it also did have video.
HP: Ha, you don’t have a radio face like you said! You guys were great, love to have you both back
MG: You are big on education and helping your customers understand how to get it done. What are three things you think are often overlooked?
HP: This is such a deep question in my opinion. My experience has been mostly working with Ad agencies and it’s 100% on the buy side. Yet, I’ve discovered that the following three things are not always prioritized: training, transparency, diversity. Yes I said it: training, transparency with the clients, and diversity.
Training and self development efforts are always the first to get cut in an agency and are less prioritized but the reality is that it is probably one of the most important. Focusing on training correctly and efficiently can help teams become happier and productive (for real! Knowledge makes you happy – prove me wrong!? LOL).
A well trained team understands that it is a journey not a destination. It helps build trust within the team and while collaborating with others. The U of Digital posted the following on LinkedIn the other day:
“51% of decision-makers rank trust as the top factor they look for in a sales person.” Another says “65% of employees say the quality of training and learning opportunities positively influence their engagement.” and one last: “Companies spend $10k-$15k to hire but less than $2k to train them.”
How can you expect them to do their job well if we are not continuously training to grow in an industry that is 100% advancing? Encourage team and self development!
That is also why I created a podcast: to encourage knowledge sharing for free and try my best to bridge that gap.
Secondly, we all know what transparency is and all define it differently. Why do we think some brands started moving their media team in-house?
Lastly, diversity! Diversity before it got sexy. Diversity and inclusion! Diversity genuinely and honestly!
MG: How was your second mothers day?
HP: It was very nice. She is one and some years old and I can never keep up with her. It was honestly very nice as my husbae watched her all day while I escaped to non-essential errands like Target, pharmacy, book store, and coffee downtown Raleigh. It was nice, alone, and quiet. We don’t always appreciate being lonely and there’s so much growth happening when you are uncomfortably alone.
MG: The world is starting to open up a bit more. Where are you taking your daughter on her NEXT vacation?
HP: My husbae and I are big on traveling internationally and domestically at least once a year. So after almost 15 months of not being able to travel as we had planned, because of pregnancy and a pandemic, we are going to Hawaii for our first family vacation this summer and I cannot wait to lay on the beach and do absolutely nothing.
MG: What are some of your favorite podcasts?
HP: Aside from the Programmatic Digest podcast, I am a big fan of eMarketers Behind The Numbers with host Marcus Johnson.
He honestly gave me the oomph to start my own podcast and I hope to have him one day. Like it’s almost a dream (Ha Ha Ha Ha) I would say him and Jeff Green from the Trade Desk. Other really cool podcasts, I am a big fan of:
But Content Is Queen from my very good friends Sanarr McLaughlin and Alexis Day.
I would recommend Rachel Rogers Podcast Hello 7 and my business coach David Shands The Social Proof podcast.
Yes I make an intentional effort to look for hosts that I can relate to culturally and mentally and content I can grow from.