Edel-folk: Site Visit to Edelman

By Karen Shulman

On March 15, 2013, a group of over twenty Zicklin MBA students went on a site visit to Edelman’s New York office, headquarters to the world’s largest independent public relations firm. Daniel Boardman (MBA ’14) and Natalia Charles (MBA ’14) of the Association for International Business (AIB), a Zicklin graduate club, and the Graduate Career Management Center organized the site visit, giving grad students the opportunity to learn about Edelman’s role in global business from the professionals who make it happen.

2013-03-15 13.31.09

To kick off the visit, the Zicklin group was warmly welcomed by Madeline Rubin, Recruitment Coordinator who coordinated the visit with AIB, Louis Lemieux, Executive Vice President Human Resources, and Nathan Small, Recruitment Specialist. They screened two short videos on the agency,  first outlining the impressive work that Edelman does in public relations, and second reflecting the company’s work culture. Some words about employees that echoed throughout the clip were: “supportive,” collaboration,” “entrepreneurial.” These qualities remained apparent as we met more ‘Edel-folk.’

Having just returned to New York from a redeye flight, Edelman New York’s President Russell Dubner joined the group to share his impressive two-decade path from administrative assistant to office president. Mr. Dubner inspired the audience by explaining how his MBA helped him become a successful leader. We learned about what his daily activities at Edelman were at the helm, his role in client relations, and the type of people that make Edelman innovative. He also spoke about some of the most creative and interesting projects of his career, and his vision for the future.

Personal initiative and agency are important values within Edelman, Dubner said. When an issue is brought up by anyone, regardless of rank that person is usually authorized to take action and address it. Russell was happy to explain why Edelman has recently decided to start recruiting MBA students to support Edelman’s growth strategy.

What really struck me was that Russell Dubner and others consistently praised being a part of the Edelman family, which speaks to a corporate culture that is warm and collaborative. I also noticed that many at Edelman have stayed with the company for many years, a testament to their commitment to employees.

Our group then toured the offices, and got a chance to step onto a phenomenal rooftop area with a view overlooking the Hudson. Offices indoors were laid out in cubes, with no walls to douse team spirit. The interior was decorated with beautiful art, curated or commissioned on each floor from a thoughtful and relevant theme. Everything was very cutting edge.

Edelman_5We came back to the main conference room for the second half of the visit, and broke into smaller groups. For over an hour, we met representatives of different divisions at Edelman in a round robin series of interviews. This was a great opportunity to gain insight into the internal workings of the agency. We learned from the digital group about the importance of content in public relations, and about how the industry is changing rapidly with the digital space. Edelman’s strategic management consulting group sent two representatives, who explained how important the skills gained through their own MBA experiences help them in day-to-day business. We heard how the public relations industry moved from the old model of client meetings over a four-martini lunch, to the new standard stressing idea-centric PR and research-fueled marketing strategies. Finally, we had a chance to hear about the business and social purpose component of their corporate/consumer marketing segment, as well as their inspiring global practice and integrated CSR.

As the visit ended, the folks at Edelman let us know about available internship opportunities and how the agency sees value in continuing the conversation with Baruch MBA students. To close, Russell mentioned that while Edelman is now a $700 million plus company, he sees it turning into a billion dollar business with an even larger global reach. With such prospects, it’s no wonder we were all interested in engaging with Edelman!

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