Shari Altergott’s path to corporate marketing manager of Associated in Addison, Illinois, began serendipitously. Ten years ago, while working in sales at a retail store during college, she realized that she would need some business experience in order to get a good job in her field after she graduated. She went to a temp agency asking for any kind of office job with marketing attached to it. The agency set her up with an interview at Associated. The rest, as they say, is history. While attending Northeastern Illinois University for undergraduate coursework and then Northern Illinois University to get her MBA in marketing, Altergott worked full time and balanced college with her job at Associated. She was able to apply what she was learning at school to her work and credits this experience, along with taking as much additional responsibility at work as she could, for her rise to marketing manager three years ago.
Altergott, 29, now manages the three-person marketing department at Associated, and runs the marketing gamut. Her team is in charge of all marketing activities including the corporate website, publications, advertising, CRM and customer events. Altergott appreciates the creative environment that the marketing department affords and relishes the daily challenges that are presented. Changing buyer behaviors in the material handling industry along with the advent of electronic media bring the opportunity to try different methods of online marketing. Altergott has been able to come up with innovative solutions to keep up with the change, such as providing customers with additional information via social networking platforms. With the added emphasis on electronic media in mind, Altergott begins every morning by checking her LinkedIn community for updates and returning e-mails.
One of the major creative projects that Altergott has been a part of is the rebranding campaign that Associated is currently going through. During the past five decades Associated has helped customers optimize storage and order fulfillment operations. However, Associated’s product and service offerings have expanded to include engineering and fleet solutions. To reflect these offerings, Associated decided to undergo a rebranding campaign to enhance its brand image. This project has required the marketing department to focus on creating branding messaging, producing and repurposing marketing collateral and determining new ways to get their campaign into the market. The rebranding campaign was two years in the making, and achieving such a daunting task is Altergott’s proudest achievement at the company to date.
When assigning a project, Altergott likes to explain what needs to be done and then take a hands-off approach to the process, unless asked specifically by her employees for help. Experience has taught her that constant micro-managing can inhibit the creative process. In her employees, she values strong creative drive, the ability to work independently and the foresight to see long-term. She knows that not everything can be tailored to the here and now and that sometimes, especially in the marketing department, you need to look at the bigger picture and focus on the future. To Altergott, the key to being a good manager is being able to listen and accept input and criticism from everybody.
At the heart of everything she does is creativity. Without constant originality, the ideas and marketing of them will get stale. To keep those creative juices flowing at all times, Altergott can’t go a day without her iPod. Listening to music throughout the day, she says, helps get her into that imaginative mindset.
Each day in the marketing arena presents a new challenge and Altergott tackles each one with relentless work ethic and innovative solutions. Her management style fosters a creative environment and allows the entire staff to come up with new and unique solutions to every new undertaking.