There is more than one way to lead, but the best leaders understand one important distinction. Leading well isn’t just about ensuring good outcomes, it’s also about optimizing and supporting the experience of the people you lead. Without that empathy, leadership is little more than project management.
At PAN, we have found time and again that our best leaders come from within — people who don’t just understand the way we work and the work we do but have also experienced it for themselves. So we are excited to share the stories of two outstanding leaders who have taken different paths to build their careers at PAN. Following their promotions earlier this year, Marki Conway serves as Vice President focusing on our technology portfolio while Lauren Kaufman serves as Vice President, Integrated Marketing & Analytics.
Marki and Lauren have found similar success at PAN not in spite of their individual goals but because of them. They began in different roles, pursued different interests, learned from different mentors and led different teams. Their growth is both a personal success and a win for our entire organization. After all, who better to help guide future leaders than individuals who have blazed their own unique trails to success across more than a decade with the agency.
Marki’s PAN journey began even before she was an employee. As an undergrad student pursuing a communications degree, Marki familiarized herself with national and regional agencies — PAN among them. When she was accepted to the public relations graduate program at Syracuse, the decision to take Phil’s course was an easy one, and it paid off. Marki started at PAN as a technology intern in the summer of 2010, and it was clear from day one that her future with the agency would be bright.
“I was immediately drawn in by the culture,” Marki says of her first impressions. “Upon arriving at PAN, I quickly realized I’d found a home, with people going out of their way to support and mentor me.”
One of those mentors, executive vice president Megan Kessler recalls Marki’s impact on her own start at the agency.
“From day one, she welcomed me here at PAN and made me feel a part of the family, challenging me while giving me opportunities to grow her as well,” Kessler says. She emphasizes that part of Marki’s magnetism as a colleague and leader lies in her ability to balance work with life.
At PAN, we have found time and again that our best leaders come from within — people who don’t just understand the way we work and the work we do but have also experienced it for themselves.
“Marki is a shining example of what makes PAN a special place to work — she is humble, honest, talented and real to the core. As you can guess, she’s an amazing leader and example to our full team because of that. ”
It was mentors like MK who encouraged Marki to pursue her interests over the years, but it was Marki’s own dedication, first to her work and over time to the successes and well-being of her team, that made her a natural fit for continued progress. After three months as a technology intern, Marki was brought on full-time as an assistant account executive and rose through the ranks of account supervisor spanning eight years with PAN. When she was made a director in 2019, it was an acknowledgment of both her expertise in the technology space and her commitment to mentorship of her team. That transition from mentee to mentor proved to be a critical moment in Marki’s path to the present.
“I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout my career at PAN, but one of my pivotal points was when I really got to step into the mentorship role,” she says. “Particularly, when I became a dedicated career coach. Out of all aspects of my job, mentorship is easily my favorite — getting to pass on the knowledge and experiences I’ve learned to help my direct reports step up their games and grow their careers.”
“I could not be luckier to learn from Marki,” says Kate Adams, a senior account executive under Marki’s direction. “As a mentor, she is truly an advocate for her people, ensuring that goals are met while prioritizing work-life balance. As a leader, she encourages her teams to think creatively and strategically, always pushing the envelope which in turn drives incredible results. Above all else, she is the person behind what makes PAN’s culture so incredible.”
When she started at PAN as a junior associate in 2013, Lauren imagined a long career in the industry — but she couldn’t have known how unique a journey it would be. As it became clearer that Lauren’s interests and talents went beyond traditional PR, an option emerged for her to choose her own path forward.
“Early in my career and tenure at PAN, I had the opportunity to write my own job description and have a hand in shaping what my career path looked like,” Lauren explains. “While we’ve grown significantly since then, that same people-first mentality has stayed at the heart of the organization and championed by the executive leadership.”
For mentors like EVP Nikki Festa O’Brien, Lauren’s potential was clear from the moment she applied to work with the agency.
“Lauren interviewed at PAN fresh out of college and with two other job offers in hand,” Festa O’Brien recalls. “She was dynamic, surprisingly experienced for a recent grad and a must-have for us. She set a high bar for us to meet in terms of culture, account mix and ability to continue to expand her skillset. I couldn’t be more excited to see her journey from PR executive to a leader in our Integrated Marketing practice with untouchable skills in data and analytics.”
As she rose through the ranks of account supervisor, Lauren honed her skillset through continued training and development, emerging as PAN’s resident expert in all things data analytics and integrated marketing. And she never lost sight of the people-first mentality instilled in her through PAN mentors.
PAN was built on a commitment to put people first. These stories are both a reflection of that ethos and a promise to carry it into the future.
“The opportunity to be a part of building out an emerging practice for the agency was an incredible learning opportunity for me,” Lauren says. “The IM team has been rapidly growing over the past few years, and we’ve brought on an amazing team of marketers that are creative, talented and fun. Their growth, development, successes and learnings keep me motivated on a day-to-day basis.”
When she became a director of integrated marketing and analytics in 2019, it was second nature to invest in the training and development of her team just as she had her own. Now, as vice president of integrated marketing and analytics, Lauren will help ensure a clear path of growth for the next generation of integrated marketing experts while also honing razor sharp focus for clients as they work to build their digital brands
“Lauren’s willingness to dive in and problem-solve is one of the many things that make her a great team member and mentor at PAN,” says Alanna Sadeghian, a senior account executive on Lauren’s dedicated team. “She’s a pro at client communications, has immense technical knowledge on many of the tools we use, and has taught me so much over the last couple of years.”
PAN was built on a commitment to put people first. These stories are both a reflection of that ethos and a promise to carry it into the future. Marki and LK found a home at PAN and PAN invested in helping them grow in ways that fit their interests in goals. As VPs they will continue to move careers for a new generation of PAN employees.