Mike Giovinelli, our Director of Strategy & Account Services, reflects on his personal career journey and what aspects of a company were his biggest priority. Originally published on Linkedin.
If someone told me when I was a senior at UNH that “GYK Marketing” would be the place I’d spend the first seven years of my career, meet my wife and return back to after working for a large global footwear brand, I don’t know if I’d believe them. However, knowing what I know now, it makes perfect sense.
When I reflect back on where I am today, there were four questions I asked myself that guided the decision-making process.
Do I need to sacrifice home life for work life?
The answer to me was no, I did not.
Born and raised in New Hampshire, I’m biased — I know this — but hear me out. New Hampshire has a little bit of something for everyone. Manchester — the home of GYK Antler’s HQ — is about 20 minutes from where I live, an hour from Boston, an hour from the beach and about an hour from Lake Winnipesaukee, where my family and I like to spend a lot of time, especially in the summer. So, when I began to explore the idea of working in a bigger city like Boston, and having to make the long and frustrating commute every day, I made the decision I wasn’t willing to sacrifice this time with my growing family. Of course, this decision would’ve been harder if I felt like I was sacrificing my career to not have as long of a commute, but luckily for me, that wasn’t the case. During my time at Timberland, GYK was simultaneously experiencing a lot of growth and evolution — they’d moved into a beautiful new office space and added new and interesting clients to their roster — so making the decision to “boomerang” back didn’t feel like I was going “back” at all, but rather like I was starting at a new organization that felt familiar.
Ultimately, my advice is be patient and don’t sacrifice. Find a place that aligns with your professional aspirations and allows you to have balance.
Does size matter?
When I went to work for Timberland, my main motivation was to experience the “client side” of the business, and to gain a different perspective. Coming from a small, largely traditional ad shop and going to a billion-dollar global company with 5,000+ employees definitely was a change of pace. During my time there, I learned a ton and experienced significant professional growth. Another learning that came from working for such a large organization was that it can be much more difficult to impact change, especially when there are so many decision-makers in a hierarchical organization.
For me, yes, size did matter. I wanted to work somewhere where I knew everyone, but also at an organization well-suited for growth, scale and evolution.
Can a company really have “Family Values”?
For anyone who has done their homework on GYKA, the answer to that question should be a resounding yes. Our CEO comes from a family of five brothers who all feel like they’re involved in the business in some capacity, and he’s now carrying out the third generation of a family business through another YCC venture (shout-out YORK Athletics). However, it’s not just that which interested me; it’s really what makes any family worth being around that did — and that’s the people. Since my first stint at the schoolhouse (the old GYKA office building), many familiar faces were still around, but many new had joined as well. And what united those individuals was a like-mindedness I craved. Call it an “entrepreneurial spirit” to make things happen, or a “live free or die mentality” — ultimately, it was a group of people willing to come together to do great work. And I wanted in. So, whether I’m brainstorming on new creative or having a “spirited” conversation with a colleague, we’re all in this together and everyone here is somebody I’d have a beer with at the end of the day — that cultural fit was a huge part of my decision-making process.
Oh yeah … one other thing I had to ask myself was, “can I actually handle working with my wife every day?” ::insert eek emoji:: ::foot in mouth emoji::
I answered yes to that question, too.
What’s in it for me?
Perhaps a selfish question, but I think it’s something everyone thinks about if they’re being honest with themselves. Beyond the work/life balance and the chemistry and camaraderie — which are all things a good career move should provide — a great company should invest in their own talent. I’ve been fortunate in my career to have good mentors who have invested their time, energy and effort into helping my career growth. When coming back, I knew that mentorship would continue. And today, I try to continue to do that for those around me. Between the agency being on a strong trajectory and being surrounded by really smart, like-minded individuals, I knew I’d not only continue to learn and develop from those around me — and ultimately grow stronger individually — I’d also be able to be an even greater contributor to GYKA.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding a place that fits into your life. Interviews and career opportunities are now more two-way than ever, so don’t be intimidated to ask the questions that are most important to you. Without the right cultural fit, you’ll never reach your full potential and you won’t be the best contributor to whatever company you work for. Find what works for you and feel good about it. If all else fails, just ask if they have cold brew and beer on draft — that’s what I did.