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Michelle Pujadas is the founder and co-CEO of Zer0 to 5ive, a marketing and communications firm based in Philadelphia, with offices in New York and Pittsburgh. Since 1999, Zer0 to 5ive has helped clients in industries like education, financial services, healthcare, and consumer products build their brands, learn new technologies, and stand out in the marketplace. Thanks to its innovative campaign strategies and experienced team, the company has won scores of creative services awards, such as a silver 2014 Davey Award and multiple Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Silver Anvil Awards of Excellence and Big Apple awards. Additionally, Michelle Pujadas was named as one of Philadelphia SmartCEO’s 25 Powerhouse Women Leaders in 2013. Prior to starting Zer0 to 5ive, Michelle was a Senior Vice President at Ketchum, where she won the company its first Silver Anvil for its Technology Practice.
What do you look for in a prospective employee?
MICHELLE PUJADAS: What does it take to be a Zer0 to 5iver? I think the biggest thing that we look for when we hire people is passion and excitement. I feel like our clients love us and we do great work for them, but what they need to see from an agency is as much excitement about their product or services they have. So, I definitely look for passion from the people I’m interviewing, and then we actually look for hard skills. You know, you can’t just be a passionate programmer but not know a programming language, so we look for hard skills around programming, around excellent design. We always look at portfolios. On the public relations front, we’re looking for people that are extroverts, that like to talk to the media, that see within a company the story and the gem of great ideas and great pitches. We’re generally looking for people who are type-A drivers. We give a lot of freedom to our people. It’s one of the benefits: we don’t micromanage our team because we don’t think they need it. So everybody is passionate about doing great jobs for our clients, and so we definitely have some questions we ask through the interview process that tries to suss that out.
Who are your entrepreneurial role models? Are there certain women you’ve modelled yourself after?
As a woman entrepreneur, I don’t know whether I’ve actually looked toward female role models as much as I have just looked toward role models. One of my greatest role models was my former boss Paul McKeon, who started Crescent Communications and later sold that to Ketchum. He had a partner with Ruth Doering, who was also fabulous—I didn’t work with her as much—but what I saw in in Paul and Ruth was the entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to do great work. I think that’s the hallmark of any great agency, and the ones that stand the test of time is having a passion and then really focusing on great work, and work that’s relevant and moves the needle forward. I mentioned Jeffrey Moore earlier—I think that he just had a different view of how people adopt technology. I think people feel like that’s common knowledge now, but back then, it was a little bit of breaking new ground, if you will. He also wrote a follow up book that talks about getting into markets, and what he calls “the bowling alley strategy,” which I also think is pretty great. It’s definitely a marketing strategy that we advise with our clients and we do have enough tech clients or West Coast clients to know that these are things that were written 15, 20 years ago and they still hold true today.
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