Culture Matters

Feb 3rd, 2021

Written by Natasha Dure, VP - Culture & Communications

Ampersand’s recognition by Ad Age as part of “Best Places to Work 2021” was a great way to kick-off the year and was also incredibly humbling.

I joined Ampersand nearly two years ago and would often get asked, “what do you think? How do you feel?” My response was and continues to be that working at Ampersand feels like finding a shoe that you loved at the back of your closet, slipping it on, and remembering why you love it so much. It’s a weird analogy, but it’s my way of saying that it felt familiar.

Change, however, is inevitable. Our vision is to move the TV ad industry forward, which means readying our employees for what’s ahead and providing them with the information, tools, and resources to deliver on expectations. Add to that the raging pandemic that’s still in our midst, there’s a potential to revert to the status quo and become culturally lazy.

Culture has to be driven primarily by a company’s mission, vision, and values. And, if there’s one thing the pandemic made clear, it’s that ping pong tables, free lunches and yoga classes as culture, while nice, is a false equivalency. The past year hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination; we’ve worked to balance keeping employees engaged and informed while staying hyper-focused on our goals, directing our attention on empowering our employees to be and do their best by:

  • Reinforcing Ampersand’s mission, vision, and values through our programs and policies–whether it’s our recognition program, book club, employee resource group or mentoring initiative. Our goal is to retain employees way after hello!
  • Investing in learning & development. With the quadrupling of the L+D team, we delivered programs that enhanced and bridged any knowledge gaps. Employees participated in formal and informal sessions on everything from introducing our new AND Platform to the market, to skills-based training, and unconscious bias workshops.
  • Driving leader engagement, so our people managers are equipped to provide guidance and inspire action.
  • Communicating transparently—it’s been a hallmark of CEO Nicolle Pangis, who believes that addressing employees directly and providing insight into the good and the not so great, and why, is integral to inspiring trust and fueling productivity. In the past year, some employees might say we overcommunicated to which we’d plead guilty. But, it felt vital to stay connected while working 100% remote.

The AdAge recognition is a milestone on our journey. We still have work to do, including increasing representation at every level of our Company. While diversity, equity, and inclusion has always been a part of our employee strategy, we accelerated our efforts this past summer between training, partnerships, sparking conversations on our teams, and listening to our employees’ lived experiences.

Feedback has been imperative as we’ve moved forward, so at times we’ve had to pivot. It’s certainly a delicate balance, but one we’re committed to continue working on and getting right. That’s why the independent recognition of Ad Age’s Best Places to Work is inspiring; if it’s any indication, it certainly feels like we’re on the right track!

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