“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” 
― Sheryl Sandberg

BABE #154: MANDY SHOLD, Sr. Account Executive @ FleishmanHillard

BABE #154: MANDY SHOLD, Sr. Account Executive @ FleishmanHillard

Mandy is a PR pro who spends her days working in corporate and social responsibility as a Sr. Account Executive for FleishmanHillard. Her role and duties perfectly combine her passion for writing and communications with her love for all things Mother Earth. In-between her hustle and her ongoing hunt for the tastiest craft beer in San Fran, Mandy carves out time as a regular monthly story contributor here at BWH, and we’re constantly impressed by her initiative, quality of work and positive attitude. (Long story short: she's the ultimate babe in our book.) Thanks for chatting with us, Mandy!

The Basics:

Hometown: Honestly, I’ve never lived anywhere long enough to have one!
Current city: San Francisco, CA
Alma mater: University of Oregon
Degree: B.S., Public Relations & Environmental Studies
Very first job: Legislative and Public Affairs Intern, Air Quality Management District
Hustle: Senior Account Executive in Corporate and Social Responsibility @ FleishmanHillard

The Interests:

Babe you admire and why?
Ann Curry. She’s the epitome of strength and journalistic integrity, and everything she does, she does with kindness and empathy. What more could you ask for in a babe?

  Callie Gisler

Callie Gisler

How do you spend your free time?
I’m currently on a quest to try all the breweries in Bay Area. Anyone want to join me for babes and brews?

Go-to adult beverage?
Craft beer.

What is something you want to learn or master?
I love to bake, but cheesecakes elude me. All of mine so far have flopped! Any and all advice welcome.

Go-to news source?
Working in PR, I read just about everything. But I start every day by watching the late-night comedy from the night before while I get ready. It’s too easy to be bogged down by the news cycle. Why not get in a good laugh before breakfast?

Three words to describe yourself?
Babe. Who. Hustles. (No? That’s cheating?) Fine. Creative, conscious and committed.  

The Hustle:

Tell us about your hustle.
I proudly spend my days working in public relations, specializing in sustainability and corporate responsibility. I firmly believe a company that cares is a company people care about. That very notion is what brought me to PR—a hunger to deliver good results to good clients. Perhaps it’s a form of communication cosmic balance, but I set out in my career to tip the scales toward the businesses with social purpose. Outside of my regular job description, I happily lead our internship project and co-lead our office writing group. 

What does your typical workday look like?
I love this question! When I was in school, I would ask every agency person this question and was so confused when they couldn’t answer it. The truth is, I don’t have a typical workday. Sure, in an ideal world I start each day with a workout, a latte and a to-do list. But after that, everything goes to shit. Some days I’m trying my hat at crisis communications and putting out fires for a client. Most days I’m desperately sifting through information and trying to find a story to tell, and a few very lucky days I get to put my headphones on and write.

What inspired you to pursue a career in environmental PR?
When I was 17, I went to Yosemite for the first time. I hadn’t grown up hiking or camping, so a full week in the outdoors was a wild (pun intended) experience for me. If you’ve been to Yosemite you’ll understand—there is nothing else like it. Right then and there I knew I needed to look at a career that, in some small way, would protect places like this. From there I went on to study PR and environmental studies, and eventually landed on corporate social responsibility (CSR), marrying my love of communications and writing with my passion for the planet. I was lucky enough to have my calling early on, and haven’t looked back.

Do you feel anchored to your current local community?
Moving around as much as I did, I always felt like I was missing that sense of “home.” That was until I moved to San Francisco. I’d say San Francisco was the first city I got to choose to live in, but in some strange way I’d also say the city chose me. I fell in love with the impossible dream of living here, nestled into some studio apartment between Victorian houses and skyscrapers, and the city allowed me to live out that dream. It would have been so easy for the city to have spat me out—I could have worked in-house for a company that got acquired or had my rent raised to a (more) ridiculous amount. But San Francisco clearly has a plan for me, and I intend to keep living out that dream as long as I’m allowed to stay.

What’s been your biggest career milestone?
This past year I was brought on to lead our agency’s internship project with Habitat for Humanity. Not only was this my favorite client, I was over the moon to be able to help see these interns through their first PR experience. I started at my agency as an intern, so having the chance to, three years later, turn around and lead the interns—well, needless to say, it was my biggest career milestone. After months of one-on-ones and track changes, I was bursting with pride when my intern got brought on full-time as assistant account executive. I think I cried more when she got hired than when I got hired! (OK, that’s a lie; I definitely cried more when she got hired.)

How has being a woman has affected your professional experience?
Being a woman in PR is pretty much par for the course. It’s not a secret that my industry—at least the agency side of things—is predominantly female. But being a woman in Silicon Valley? Now, that’s an entirely different story. For as much as I love San Francisco, the “bro culture” of the Valley can sometimes be difficult to combat against, both personally and professionally. That being said, I think it’s actually brought me closer to other women who are experiencing the same struggle, and it’s a beautiful thing. I’m seeing that same trust and honor amongst women all over San Francisco. Maybe we’re surrounded by a “bro culture,” but we’ve formed our own pact to protect one another and lift each other up. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been invited to more events centered on women in tech and women’s leadership than any other topic. And, ultimately, it was that same search for a community of strong, independent women that led me to Babes Who Hustle.

Who are some women in your field you look to for inspiration?
Too many to name! I’m constantly in awe of the women in my office and my field. (1) My deskmate and work wife who can make pulling together a media event look as effortless as her (Instagram-worthy) outfits. (2) My practice lead who manages to straddle the line between professional rock star and all-star mother. (3) My best friend who left the big city agency life for a small town communications job working for the humane society. There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than a woman who dictates her own direction.

What motivates and inspires you?
Have you ever read East of Eden? It might take 600-something pages, but it introduces the concept of timshel, or “thou mayest.” It all boils down to the famous Steinbeck quote: “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” Stop trying to fit someone else’s definition of success, trying to mold yourself into their timeline or expectations. What matters isn’t how you stack up against someone else—it’s how you stack up against yourself. Everyone has their own set of circumstances, their own outliers; what matters is how you choose to move forward. At the end of the day, you get a choose to fight, to persevere—you get to choose to be good and kind and triumphant.

What helps you wind down and manage stress?
Cleaning and baking. I notice that when I’m stressed, it’s usually because something is out of my control. Oddly enough, taking control of my household chores clears that right up. Plus, there’s something so calming about a house that smells like baked goods. If you stop by and my house is ever spotless, know it was likely a pretty stressful week.

Career and/or life advice for other babes?
As with any industry, people are going to try and put you in a box. It’s not a reflection on you, it’s just easier for them to try and make you into something they can understand. But don’t let it hold you back. You can be passionate about media relations and social media, about technology and sustainability. You are not one thing and you are not a job description. Know what fuels your fire and focus on that.

Connect with Mandy:

Twitter // Instagram // Email // LinkedIn

This interview has been condensed and edited.

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