Working with the best
Helene De Vries ’89 is always thinking about the best of the best, it’s her job.
“As chief talent officer at MRY, I recruit top talent to join MRY,” she said. “And I collaborate with our teams to train, engage and retain that talent by developing programs and growth opportunities for them.”
MRY is a digital marketing agency focused on millennials, a generation that relies on mobile devices and technology. MRY works with blue chip clients like Visa and Coke to reach millennials with brand messaging delivered via the non-traditional media channels these customers prefer.
Being part of a company with such a mission is both rewarding and challenging for De Vries, who works in MRY’s New York City office and who double-majored in political science and psychology at Union.
“The best thing is shaping people’s careers in a positive way. I love seeing how an opportunity at MRY is going to be a career enhancer for a person, while also building MRY’s relationships with its clients,” she said. “I love to understand what makes people tick (part of my psychology background from Union!), and figuring out ways to tap into their skills and passions for a mutual greater good.”
Making all this good stuff happen, though, isn’t easy. The competition for top digital media/social media/tech-skilled personnel is stiff.
“Highly sought-after employees have a myriad of opportunities,” De Vries said. “Fostering a unique culture and backing it up with employee-centric actions are some of the ways we mitigate the talent drain. We lean in to MRY’s entrepreneurial heritage and continually encourage employees to share their business ideas.”
De Vries shared some of her own ideas during a Union College event in New York City in October that featured alumni working in the entertainment industry. She appreciated the opportunity.
“It’s important to continually learn and mentor. Understanding the challenges faced by your predecessors—those senior to you—enables you to make informed decisions going forward,” De Vries said. “Learning from those junior to you is equally important, too. This event provided great development opportunities for everyone.”
She also expressed appreciation for her continuing connection with her alma mater, and the difference it made for her.
“A liberal arts education is as important as ever. Being exposed to a broad range of disciplines, and gaining the ability to think and write critically, are invaluable,” De Vries said. “These skills, combined with more specific studies, create strong leaders and communicators. I tap into my Union education in this way every day.”
De Vries was joined by Jack Cole ’04 (writer, director, showrunner at Orange Soda Productions) and Amy Silberman ’04 (supervising producer at “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider”). The event, hosted by Julie Swidler ’79 (executive vice president, business affairs and general counsel, SONY Music Entertainment) was streamed live online.
To watch, click here