Meet Sarah Marshall (no, not that one), the experience architect at humanworks.
With a passion for helping people bring their best selves to work and an addiction to organization, Sarah breaks down the big picture into calculated actions. This can be said for whatever she’s working on – from planning a family vacation to building an intranet site.
Sarah enjoys envisioning, road mapping and executing strategies around organizational communication, employee engagement, employer branding and event planning.
Learn more about Sarah in this Women Who Wow profile, and connect with her on LinkedIn.
Why did you choose your profession?
While wandering aimlessly around a majors and careers fair in college at the University of Minnesota, a woman drew me to her booth saying, “Do you want to make ads for Target?” Growing up, my sister and I fought over who got to look at the Target ad first in the Sunday paper, so it was a big YES from me.
I chose a Strategic Communications major and what do you know…my first job out of college was at Target HQ. I wasn’t making the ads, but I was close enough and was thrilled to be working within my unique ability.
After being in a marketing role at Target and then at a travel organization, I was tapped on the shoulder to build and shape a corporate communications role within HR. I thought I’d give it a shot and simply had the best time creating the role based on organizational need and my own passion to help people enjoy coming to work.
The things I learned, confidence I gained and relationships I built led me to my role in the workplace culture space, and I still have marketing responsibilities to keep in the mix. A little push from a recruiter, a tap on the shoulder and the potential my leaders saw in me along the way helped to pave the path for me when I wasn’t really sure where I fit.
What do you love most about what you do?
When an organization’s leadership team sees how their newly elevated core values impact the bottom line of the business, or when a team learns about each other’s instinctive strengths on a deeper level and applies them to their work for greater effectiveness, I can see their renewed energy. There’s a new spark and I know that I’ve played a part in giving meaningful people-focused direction to a business. I get to learn about different industries – from construction to hair styling – and then ignite some momentum into a business.
How has social media helped you build your business/brand?
LinkedIn has been one of the most effective ways for my team to build our business. By connecting with new people or re-connecting with those already in our networks to share what we do, we’ve gotten new business, abundance partners and even a list of people who want to join our team when we hire in the future.
LinkedIn has helped us to find target clients and stay up to date on their happenings, as well as enabled us to grow brand awareness for humanworks through promoting our professional development sessions and blog content. I don’t want to imagine what business development looked like before LinkedIn.
Any advice to young women about succeeding in the workplace?
Keep your personal well-being a priority and don’t feel guilty taking time away. You’ll be a better employee when you have a good grasp of your own purpose, balance and physical health. Plus, your life experiences will help you connect with others, learn and understand different perspectives.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Stop spending time trying to figure it all out. Make some plans, but be adaptable. Have some dreams, but let them change. The measure of success isn’t winning a 40 Under 40 – it’s about the impact you have on the lives of others. (Also, your mom is probably right, so listen to her more.)
How do you achieve work/life balance?
The tagline of humanworks is “Bring work to life and life to work” so to put it simply, I believe in balance and therefore strive for it. I do that by picking my priorities and using them to set boundaries. It’s important to me to make it to the gym to relieve stress and be among active people, so I work out in the morning before I log onto my computer.
It’s important to me to pick my kids up from daycare (and for them to not be the last ones there), so that’s when I know the work day is done. And it’s important for me to have fun things planned on the weekends, or be able to, as I like to say, “weekend hard.” I make those things a priority and though I’m flexible when needed, I do my best to work my schedule around those musts. And yes, sometimes we have applesauce for dinner, but I’m okay with that.
What do you think is the key for success in a role like yours?
An abundance mindset. My role involves writing, project planning, marketing, business development and working with clients. I have to seek the critique to improve my work and be open to feedback if I want to make [insert anything I do here] better – more effective, more clearly articulated, more aligned to the corresponding goals. I also must accept that everyone has different unique abilities and instinctive strengths. Not everyone works the way I do so I look for the beauty in that rather than let frustration or fear of competition creep in. There’s always room to grow.
What is a surprising/fun fact about you?
I’m intrigued by assessments! When it comes to conative assessments, my Kolbe A is 7-6-4-3. For affective assessments, my current favorite is StrengthsFinder and my latest top 5 were Futuristic, Relator, Belief, Discipline, Developer. And last time I took the “Which Disney Princess Are You” quiz, I got Pocahontas.