Women in Leadership: Heather Roymans, Partner & Director at AlterEgo Creates

Photo: Heather Roymans

Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women. 

This month we are proud to feature Heather Roymans, Partner & Director at AlterEgo Creates.

What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership?

Listen.
Let people fail.
Be curious.
Be infinite minded.
Be water, my friend.

Listening shows that I care and understand my job as a problem solver and leader. Because I cannot possibly come up with a winning solution until I understand the real problem.

Letting people fail (or “hands on learning”) is crucial to growth. My favorite anecdote is from “How To Win Friends and Influence People” and it goes like this: A famous test pilot was returning to his home in LA when at 300 feet, both engines suddenly stopped. He managed to land the plane but it was badly damaged. After landing, he inspected the WWII prop plane and saw that it had been fueled with jet fuel instead of gasoline. When he confronted the young mechanic who had serviced the plane he did not scold or criticize him but rather said, “To show you I’m sure that you’ll never do this again, I want you to service my F-51 tomorrow.” That is how you teach people to learn.

Being curious is at the core of who I am and why I am where I am. When I am tasked to work on a subject I know nothing about or with a person with whom I don’t share common interests, I don’t have to fake interest or change who I am. Instead, I am curious about this new thing or this person’s passion- how did they become this way? What is it about this thing that makes you love it so much? Being curious has driven my career and enabled me to have access to all kinds of people I may have otherwise never seen.

As an “infinite minded” leader, I accept that what I’m contributing to is something I may never see realized. I see the importance in embracing surprise (hello 2020… 2021… ) and finding the opportunity in it over sliding into the fear of the unknown. I used to be a finite minded leader playing what I perceived to be a finite game. I threw around sports metaphors that meant nothing to me or my craft and I encouraged internal competition. I wanted to WIN. But as Simon so brilliantly asks, “win what?” I have since transitioned into playing the infinite game with an infinite mindset because I love the act of playing the game. Play. Never stop using your imagination and never stop playing.

And lastly, my north star has always been, “Be water, my friend.” So much so that I had it tattooed on my body a few years back. I never allow myself to be trapped in any certain mindset. Instead, I trust that I am able to adapt to certain situations, grow, and change like water.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I chose this one because it was the hardest question for me to answer because I am one of those lucky people that doesn’t really separate “work” from “life.” And this does not mean that I am a workaholic or don’t see the need for the clear separation that some people do. When I do things “outside of work” I constantly think of how they can help tell the stories I tell “at work.” I love creating floral arrangements because I love color and that inspires my color palettes. I love running and hiking out West and being alone outside because it gives me the time to process thoughts and re-assess upcoming priorities. I love films and watching them with my kids so we can talk about film making together. And my truest passion is writing which is a big part of my life and what I have chosen to do with my life.

What’s your advice to young females beginning their career?

I am going to steal this from Angela Duckworth cause I love it so much. Life is more about consistency than intensity and if you show up and put in the work towards something you are passionate about, time after time, even when it’s hard, you will both see results and feel proud of your well earned achievements. This is GRIT. This is power. Showing up everyday shows that you’re reliable at your craft. Because in the words of every coach ever, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work.”

What are some of the challenges women continue to face in their careers?

I will speak from experience here and this may only apply to my field, but the biggest challenge I face is hearing from other women that they want to support women owned businesses, or female directors, or companies that hire women into their C-suite… but actually don’t. Because there aren’t many women “at the top,” like other minority groups experience as well, we’re always kind of viewed as a riskier option. And if we aren’t given the chance to prove ourselves we continue to grow even riskier over time because we lack the experience or resume required to prove otherwise. This cycle has sadly impeded the career growth and blossoming of so many women and that is why I’m proud to have always had a majority women business where women have held top positions like President, VP/ Head of Production, Executive Producer, Sr. Editor, and Associate Creative Director.

Women in Leadership: Andrea Kalina, SVP & CHRO at St. Clair Health

Andrea Kalina

Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women. 

This month we are proud to feature Andrea Kalina, SVP & CHRO at St. Clair Health.

Of your achievements, what makes you most proud?

When I think about the opportunity to influence, to educate, to mentor…I’ve had an incredibly rewarding professional career, but the work itself is not the most important thing that any of us does. What I’m most proud of are the deep personal connections created over the years with my family, friends, and peers.

What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership? 

Every organization has goals, and, as a leader you’re going to have plenty of opportunities to chase results. The work has to get done, we all want to do well and achieve a high level of success, and it can be easy to just focus on the bottom line. My north star has always been to do the right thing—and do it for the right reasons. As important: never lose sight of the contributions that the people around you make to your success. We’re all in this together. 

How do you strike an optimal work/life balance? 

Seeking balance is tremendously important—perhaps now more than ever with how easy technology makes it to operate in an always-on mindset. Achieving balance is really about prioritization—understanding that not everything is urgent in every moment. If everyone has to compartmentalize to a certain degree, then the key becomes understanding the compartments of your life and which ones demand and deserve urgency at any given time. 

What’s your advice to young females beginning their career? 

I have three daughters and I speak to them in these terms all the time: Be brave—because you’re intelligent and you know what you want and what it’s going to take to get there. Be creative—because you’re talented and resilient and you’re the only one who can get in your own way. Maybe it’s a little cliché but I really believe that there’s nothing we can’t do. Part of being brave is being willing to be told no, that an idea you have is off the mark, or that what you’re striving for just won’t work. And then you put all that in the rearview and trust your own instincts. 

If you had to do anything over, what would it be and why? 

Absolutely nothing—I have no regrets professionally or personally. And there are many reasons for that. I’ve been fortunate, and maybe even lucky in some instances. But I’ve also been deliberate. I’ve set lofty goals, some of which I have yet to achieve. I’ve held myself to high performance standards, and sought out mentors who could help me understand what I needed to do to get to the next level. I haven’t done everything perfectly throughout my career. I’ve learned that often we learn more from failing than we ever could by succeeding. And I’ve come to think of it like this: why spend energy on thinking about changing something that’s already happened? It’s far more beneficial to channel that same energy into doing something that can help others going forward. 

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Noetic News: Welcome to the Team, Affie!

Affie Benson

Hello there! I’m Affie Benson and I couldn’t be more pleased to be writing my first blog for Noetic. I am a passionate marketing professional of over 20+ years, helping brands elevate customer experiences through creative solutions and programs. I appreciate working across cultures and creating opportunities using traditional and digital marketing to solve challenges. I earned my MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Go Tarheels!), and a BS in Marketing from American University. My fascination lies with digital marketing and the ever-evolving strategies and applications to help businesses find the right equation to reach stakeholder goals. As such, I recently pursued a certification from Columbia University & Emeritus Studies for Digital Marketing: Customer Engagement, Social Media, Planning & Analytics.


I was drawn to Nancie and Noetic’s values of kindness first and curious spirit and have seen its application firsthand. The notion of doing the right thing for your team and your clients is an easy one, but it takes real leadership to bring it to life and to do it consistently. When I first met Nancie and the Noetic team, I was grounded in how authentic the team is and humbled by the vast amount of experience, intellect, and drive each team member possesses. I am filled with gratitude to be working with such a power-house of professionals who combine artistry and science to create masterful services like branding, strategy, team empowerment, and more for their clients.


I am thrilled to both learn from the team and contribute to our clients’ success by applying traditional marketing frameworks coupled with creative solutions. I am elated by what I’ve seen and even more delighted about what is to come.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

4 Critical Trends in Customer Experience (CX)

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

How people live, work, and shop has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply relying on what your company has done in the past is no longer enough to keep consumers happy. It’s critical that organizations adjust to the changing consumer landscape and consistently deliver exceptional experiences. Companies that are ignorant of rising trends risk losing loyal customers to more future-facing competitors. Thus, here are four customer experience trends marketers should keep an eye out for:

1. Touchless CX is here to stay

Customers want to make purchases with as little interaction as possible. Touchless experiences such as contactless payments, curbside pick-up, and touch-free restrooms are not only safer but more convenient. In fact, customers want touchless options once the crisis subsides as it has proven to make their lives easier and more efficient. According to GetApp, 82% of customers expect contactless experiences in 2021 and beyond. Investing in making these experiences as seamless as possible will be key to customer satisfaction and loyalty.

2. Virtual assistants are the new app

Voice technology has come a long way. Roughly 1 in 4 Americans now own a smart speaker and over 110 million use a virtual assistant such as Alexa, Google, or Siri. Voice is frictionless and offers users almost instantaneous answers and gratification. It’s a hands-free and hassle-free experience, unlike having to download and figure out an app. The rising popularity of voice technology means marketers and CX specialists should explore ways to leverage voice to make the customer experience better. This will mean they will need to regularly fine-tune their SEO strategy to optimize for voice search. As voice recognition continues to improve, and usage of voice assistants grows, it will be imperative to have a strong voice SEO strategy to stay ahead of the competition.

3. Consumers want contactless, not human-less

While contactless experiences are preferred at checkout, companies must still provide real human support when technology fails. Few things are more infuriating to a customer than having to wait or speak to a robot for help. One bad support experience can sour an otherwise positive experience. Scouring help documentation or navigating complicated system trees to reach a customer support representative is annoying and time-consuming. If your company has call support capabilities, considering doing away with automated voice-system robots altogether or offer callers the chance to “press zero to immediately reach a customer service agent.” In-person help is the most ideal, but if that’s not an option, live text/chat can also bridge the contactless support gap.

4. Dynamic personalization

90% of U.S. consumers find marketing personalization very or somewhat appealing. Dynamic personalization is content that adapts to each individual customer and understands their purchasing habits and behaviors, so it is correctly modified to enhance their experiences and produce conversions. Investing in dynamic personalization can help marketers optimize the consumer experience so that every interaction your customer has with your brand is personal and custom-tailored to their individual needs and interests. Simple ways to leverage dynamic personalization are personalized recommendations, personalized email offers, and intelligent ads (offer a perfectly timed code or discount to convince your customer to pull the purchase trigger). By ensuring your website or app only presents useful or relevant material, you can build trust, improve your brand and encourage repeat business.

This content has been adapted from the Critical Trends in Customer Experience: CX Futurist Blake Morgan on What Consumers Now Expect webinar hosted by AdWeek.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Women in Leadership: Laura Smith, Hertz Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience

Laura Smith

Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women. 

This month we are proud to feature Laura Smith, Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience at Hertz.

Of your achievements, what makes you most proud?

Believing I didn’t have to choose between my career and family. I believe you can be brilliant at both. Nine years ago, I took a huge risk and moved to the U.S. with a newborn baby and a 3-year-old to a new role, new country, and new life. While this came with sacrifice, I am proud of everything I’ve achieved since then.

What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership?

Listen more than you speak. It’s hard to bring people with you if you aren’t clued into where they are. Take time to pay attention to the smallest details, so you can paint a big picture and a bright future.

Who has had the biggest impact on you and your career?

I’ve learned a ton from amazing individuals around the globe over the past 20+ years who have taken time to share their wisdom, feedback, and advice. One such piece of wisdom was during a conversation about moving up in the organization. They said, ‘Find the work that needs to be done and do that work. All good things will follow.’ That advice really mattered and made a difference to me.

My husband has also made a big impact. He is my No. 1 fan, biggest believer, and supporter. I couldn’t do half of what I do without him.

What has been your greatest lesson in the workplace?

Don’t shy away from difficult decisions. Call mistakes early, tackle issues head-on, and deal with people issues swiftly. In all those situations, be honest about why, communicate changes transparently, and share learnings so others can grow from these experiences, too.

How do you strike an optimal work/life balance?

As a busy wife, mom and executive, I’m very conscious of balance but there are no perfect scales. Dinner together with my family is rarely missed when I’m not traveling, and breakfasts to catch up on the weekend are sacred. But I don’t make it to all school events, and we have do-overs if we can’t celebrate an occasion on the exact day. I’ve learned I don’t have to do it all, and the importance of breathing and letting it go.

Workouts are non-negotiable for me to help destress, even if that means 4:30 a.m. starts so I can fit it in. At work, it’s important that meetings have a purpose and agenda and that I’m taking time daily to develop my team, so I have a solid support network I can count on.

I also strongly believe in all the ‘Rs – relaxing, rejuvenating, recharging – so it’s important for me and my team to take time off so we can all stay at the top of our game!

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

I have major wanderlust! My list of places to travel to is growing by the day. I also love to be outside and enjoy running, biking, and hiking…familiar paths, and discovering new trails.

What’s your advice to young females beginning their careers?

Don’t fall into the trap of being the note-taker or organizer. Be prepared, know your audience, anticipate questions and problems to be solved. Share your voice with answers, ideas, and solutions. Ask for help when you need it and don’t hold back. The ladder is high and very climbable.

If you had to do anything over, what would it be and why?

I often reflect on what I could or should have done differently after a conversation, an important meeting, or at the end of the year. But I don’t have any regrets. I believe in diving in, making progress, and that done is better than perfect. I reflect, take insights, and apply new learnings as I go. It never ends and is a continuous process.

What are some of the challenges women continue to face in their careers?

Having the confidence to speak up. I’ve had some difficult situations where I wished I would have sought advice or spoken up sooner. Having a strong network inside and outside of work and the courage to speak up and seek input on how to navigate challenging situations is not a sign of weakness, it’s a vital part of self-validation, growth, and moving forward.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Noetic News: Welcome to the Team, Nellie!

Nellie Ryan

Hello, my name is Nellie and I’ve been a longtime friend of the Noetic team and a big admirer of their work and now I’m thrilled to be their newest Consultant!

I’m grateful that I’ve built a career doing something that I truly enjoy. It all started with a summer internship at a small advertising agency working for a powerhouse female marketing leader that inspired me to pursue marketing as my career. I love all the possibilities and challenges that marketing offers. I love that it’s science and art. And that a strong brand can connect people, spark emotion, and create an attachment that drives engagement and delivers growth. I love that it moves very fast, fostering curiosity as you chase new approaches, new platforms, and new tools that can drive more marketing value.

That internship sparked my obsession with marketing and a 22-year (and counting) career where I’ve worked at advertising agencies on big brands like McDonald’s and at Discovery where I worked with talented teams to build and shape TV brands, digital content platforms, and audiences with multi-media strategies and award-winning campaigns. Most recently, I spent time at Amazon Music where I focused on global engagement marketing. And now a new chapter with Noetic!


Noetic’s values, process, and the big energy I felt from this small team is how I knew this was the right place for me. All the reasons I’m passionate about marketing were affirmed in each conversation I had with team members. But I’m most excited to come full circle and be able to learn from and work for another powerhouse female marketing leader, Nancie McDonnell Ruder! I’m eager to provide value and partner with the Noetic team and clients to strengthen brands and marketing power from the inside out.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Noetic News: Welcome to the team, Ginny!

Ginny Townsend

My name is Ginny and I’m the newest Consultant at Noetic. With a background of 15+ years in the marketing and strategy world, I’m excited to be a part of this powerhouse of a Team. 

As I’ve been telling my personal and professional networks about joining Noetic, the word I keep using to describe this firm is “home.” Finding a culture like Noetic’s and finding a team of driven professionals who feel like kindred spirits is rare and I’m grateful to be here. During the interviewing and onboarding processes, I was struck by the consistent level of thoughtfulness around each interaction, and I continue to be impressed by the level of excellence with which Noetic operates internally and externally.

With an ALM in Finance from Harvard and BA in Marketing Management from Bellevue, my passion lives at the intersection of marketing strategy and finance. This is where great brands remain viable and are able to continue serving their clients at the highest level. 

I’m grateful to have already had a rewarding and engaging career doing in-house marketing, agency-side marketing, and most recently marketing and strategy consulting. In these roles, I’ve had the honor of working with brands large and small that span from financial services and brokerage firms to municipalities, to prestigious universities, and pretty much everything in between. 

In addition to this work, I’m an advisory board member of a legaltech firm, I’m an angel investor, and a Kickstarter Alum. In my free time, I greatly enjoy hiking with my family.

From this varied work, I bring best practices from different industries and my belief in the power of elegant simplicity and “win:win:win” to the Team and its clients. I look forward to working and providing incredible value alongside my fellow best-in-class consultants here at Noetic.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Noetic News: Welcome to the Team, Madelaine!

Madelaine Santa

Halo, สวัสดีค่ะ (sawadee kha), 你好 (nǐ hǎo)!

My name is Madelaine and I am the latest addition to the team at Noetic. A little bit about me: I was born in Jakarta, but I grew up in Southeast Asia. I lived most of my life in Bali, Bangkok, Singapore and I’m now based in Washington, D.C. I studied Advertising in undergrad and I have over 5 years of experience as a creative professional and general generalist. Some of my passion projects include designing an exhibition for a social entrepreneurship expolaunching a home-cooking app, and directing a zero-waste fashion editorial.

Recently I graduated with a Master’s from Georgetown University, which is where I met Noetic’s founder Nancie McDonell Ruder (she’s an Adjunct Professor in one of my courses). I was about a month away from finishing my program when I discovered that her firm was looking for a Junior Consultant. The position seemed a perfect fit and I knew consulting was an environment where my affinity for being interested in well… everything!! was an asset and not a weakness. 

During the interview process, I was blown away at the caliber of the people on Noetic’s team. Yes, they were smart and experienced professionals, but they were also genuinely kind and empathetic. They saw beyond my relative inexperience and saw that I could bring my drive and enthusiasm to the table. They assured me that I didn’t have to know everything from the get-go. It was more important to stay curious, ask questions, and just be my authentic self. Even though I was the one being interviewed, I left each one feeling more energized and confident in myself.

Two weeks in and I still feel this way every time I speak to my colleagues. They’ve embraced me wholeheartedly and they’re still reminding me to observe and absorb. I’m also delighted to report that at Noetic, the company values aren’t just words on a website. It truly is ingrained into our process. It’s used when communicating with each other and with clients. It’s referred to when we hit a hurdle. Throughout my initial onboarding, my colleagues have exemplified Help & Kindness First by taking the time to Zoom call with me one-on-one and answering my many questions with patience and grace. And on my end, I’ve been working on maintaining a Curious Spirit and Dynamic Positivity as I adjust to my new role. 

Right now, I’m looking forward to navigating the dynamic world of consulting, working with amazing clients, and getting to know the Noetic team better (I’ll be meeting them all in person later this month). Words cannot express how honored I am to be here and I’m excited to utilize my creativity, problem-solving skills, and passion for excellence to help build and strengthen brands from the inside out.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Women in Leadership: Michelle Russo, Chief Communications Officer at the United States Chamber of Commerce

Michelle Russo

Noetic’s Women in Leadership series highlights strong women leaders across industries who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators, and humans. They are recognized and influential in their respective fields and they leverage their positions of leadership to uplift, encourage, and support other women. 

This month we are proud to feature Michelle Russo, Chief Communications Officer at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Of your achievements, what makes you most proud?

I often advise younger executives to be fearless in their careers. The only risk in taking chances is failing to learn. As I reflect on my own career highlights and choices, I’m proud that I’ve ‘walked the talk.’ I’ve taken on roles and responsibilities that ‘on paper’ I probably had no business taking on, but I did it anyway and learned a lot along the way.

What is your rule of thumb when it comes to leadership?

There are many definitions of leadership. The only one that matters to me is this: A leader is someone people WANT to follow, not someone people HAVE to follow. Underscores the importance of influence and inspiration rather than hierarchy.

Who has had the biggest impact on you and your career?

My mother. She put herself through college while raising two little girls. She went on to get an MBA and built a very successful career as a professor and mentor to so many people. My fearlessness stems from her example.

What has been your greatest lesson in the workplace?

The importance of allies. You can’t just be good at what you do. You need people in your corner and at your side.

How do you strike an optimal work/life balance?

Every person has to define ‘optimal’ for themselves. My family is the most important part of my life, but my career has been a lifelong passion. And I never apologize for either.

What are you most passionate about outside of work?

Traveling with my family. Meeting people from different places and experiences.

What’s your advice to young females beginning their careers?

Be fearless! Take chances. Be curious. Be yourself.

If you had to do anything over, what would it be and why?

Nothing. Maybe I would have spent less time sweating the small stuff.

What are some of the challenges women continue to face in their careers?

The Double Standard, although some of it is self-inflicted. I’ve never seen a panel or interview where a male executive is being asked about work/life balance. In turn, I’ve never/rarely heard a male executive raise the subject proactively.  

What is the most important quality we can offer in our day-to-day roles? 

Demonstrate curiosity and continuous learning. My third-grade teacher had a sign in the classroom that set the course for my life: “The only stupid question is the one not asked.” I tell my kids, “I’d rather look stupid than be stupid.”

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Consumers are Ready. Are Your Digital Platforms?

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

The masks are finally shedding. Refreshed business and social norms are solidifying. Many organizations are re-emerging with a refined vision and product formulated and optimized over the past 14 months. With that enhanced plan solidified, now is the time to optimize your digital strategy towards fueling accessible growth in today’s landscape.  To ensure your digital platforms re-emerge refreshed and ready for what 2021+ brings, we delve into David Rogers’s top strategies to thrive in the digital age.

  1. Access:  How quick, easy and flexible are your digital interactions? Consider everything from load rates, mobility to response times.
  2. Engage:  Is your content sensory, interactive, and relevant to your customer needs? Explore the stickiest part of your brand identity and what makes it special and unique.
  3. Customize: Are there ways to rely more heavily on AI to personalize our interactions with intent? Distill audience segments to prioritize and messaging that resonates.
  4. Connect:  Where is their innate value of consumer or product connection? Analyze meaningful opportunities for creating, sharing, and participating digitally via videos, images, or votes.
  5. Collaborate:  Does our brand or product lend itself toward collaborating with consumers? Could this enhance our product or consumer value? Explore and apply Wikipedia, and Uber-like business models to ideate determine applicability.

Your brand’s path toward a digital refresh will be as unique as your renewed business strategy and goals.  Our Noetic team is here to guide your digital re-emergence and set you on the path for growth. Let’s get started together.

To see more content from Noetic Consultants be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.