Molly Flynn: You have a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, and a Masters in Public Administration. You spent 6 years working in politics. How did you make the shift to career in public relations?
Amy Lyons: While working in politics I learned to have a deep appreciation for reading your audience, and the importance of staying “on message”. I also understood what it meant to know your constituency. In my current role, that constituency includes our team, clients, prospects, partners and the industry at large. It's important to know what they each need to hear and when. With these skills in mind, making the shift to public relations was relatively seamless.
M: You worked at SHIFT for 10 years before you became President. What skills do you believe lead you to this position?
A: I once heard someone say that “management is like being a duck. You are calm and cool, gliding across the water for all to see, but paddling furiously under the surface.” That really sums me up – I’m fairly unflappable and composed, and I think that type of professional maturity is really important in my role.
M: What do you look for in a candidate when hiring at SHIFT?
A: One of the most important things we’ve done at SHIFT is to codify our values – and not just put them on a poster and walk away, but instill them into all of our processes. This includes hiring. We hire for our values. We want folks on our team that are: Dedicated to learning and doing the best work of their careers; Connected to their team, to their clients, to the industry, and to each other; Honorable because the right answer isn’t always the easiest one; Creative because they want to break out of box; Smart because people who are naturally curious will ask the interesting questions and seek out the unexpected answers; Positive, negative-nelly’s need not apply; and Ballsy because that's when you take risks you discover new things about yourself and for your clients.
M: What do you think makes SHIFT stand out above other agencies?
A: SHIFT is different because we've defined our values and built upon them. Our core values have changed our culture dramatically and there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t hear a member of our team reference our values in conversation.
“The client wants us to do x, but it doesn’t feel honorable.”
“This idea is pretty ballsy, but I know it will get great results.”
“My Account Executive is so connected, you won’t believe what she pulled off this week.”
These conversations affirm for me the importance of instilling values into everyday work, and that's why SHIFT stands out.
M: What is your advice for young professional women striving to become leaders in the workplace?
Don't be afraid to use your voice, but do so in a way that serves the organization's goals, not just your own. When I see a junior staff member speak up or come to me with ideas for how to make SHIFT a better or more successful organization, it showcases to me the potential that they possess to be a leader.