She's a member of the Ad Council's UX Committee and SVP of Experience at Alpha, meaning she's responsible for both the Alpha platform experience along with the Alpha employee experience. Meet our latest Champ for Good: Linda Gramsch!
Q: How have you worked with the Ad Council? What campaign(s) have you supported and what was the project you worked on with us?
Linda Gramsch: I had the opportunity to join the Ad Council’s UX Committee early last year and kicked off working on campaigns for the American Heart Association (High Blood Pressure), Smokey Bear, and Love Has No Labels. Throughout our work together, it became evident that there was a need to bring user feedback into the fold earlier in the campaign review cycle. I began to see how the product that I’m building at my day job, Alpha, could be leveraged for good.
Most recently Alpha partnered with the Ad Council to begin to shift team behaviors and processes for campaign testing towards a focus on experimentation and iteration, in order to better connect with target audiences. We used Alpha on the most recent campaigns for LGBT, Love Has No Labels, Empowering Women in STEM, Breast Cancer, Discover the Forest and High School Equivalency.
It’s been rewarding to work with amazing folks at the Ad Council and its partners to create a ‘culture of experimentation’ and educate stakeholders on best practices.
Q: Social good ads pull at our heartstrings. What social good ad has made you cry or stand up and cheer?
LG: It’s a difficult choice because the Ad Council does a wonderful job of showcasing strong creative to promote important social issues. One campaign that stands out for me is She Can STEM which inspires middle school girls to stay in STEM by showcasing female role models. It's important for these girls to see themselves reflected on the screen and be inspired to excel in STEM fields which report lower percentages of women professionals. I’m honored to support an initiative that reduces the gender gap and creates more opportunities for the underrepresented.
Q: How do you or your team integrate social good into your work, or how do you think your brand is making the world a better place?
LG: At Alpha, we firmly believe that the competitive advantage of the future is democratized and data-driven decision-making. We’re thrilled that the market agrees: product and agency teams from more than one-third of the Fortune 100 already use our platform every single day. By enabling Fortune 500 teams and agencies to generate user insights from target audiences very quickly and consistently, we're raising the bar for companies to create better offerings that solve real pain points for real people. We like to think we’re the fastest way for companies to learn about their future customers.
As a company, we also live by our value of generosity. We strive to connect with our communities, lend our time and learn from these experiences. One of my favorite volunteer experiences was with City Harvest. I had the opportunity to work their Mobile Market, which is where community members gather in a farmer’s market setting to receive fresh donated produce. Throughout the year, about 65 different produce items are made available to the community at large.
The competitive advantage of the future is democratized and data-driven decision making.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for brands to have a corporate social responsibility plan in the world we live in?
LG: The world is increasingly connected and it's now imperative for companies to have a proactive plan in place with respect to social responsibility. But it’s not ‘any old plan’ - rather, a company’s plan must be authentic and tied back to their mission. Two-thirds of corporate executives believe that their CSR program provides material for competitive advantage. So a win-win is the goal.
Q: What was the greatest piece of advice someone gave you, and how did it end up helping you?
LG: As the child of immigrant parents, it was ingrained in me to dive into the unknown without fear and surpass any challenges with a big smile. To this day, this is how I live my personal and professional life. If you lose the fear and learn to fail, pick yourself up, and push ahead, nothing can stop you. This advice has helped me navigate my professional growth and learn that with every trial and error you experience, there is always a nugget of gold that opens up possibilities. I didn’t know it then but I was living experimentation.
As the child of immigrant parents, it was ingrained in me to dive into the unknown without fear.
Q: If you were giving a commencement speech to this year’s college graduates, what would you want them to know?
LG: Working in the user experience field has taught me to put emphasis on empathy. It has taught me to listen, observe, and learn from users and my peers. It has built my knowledge about human behavior and reinforced the need to take a moment and reflect on others’ perspectives - to experience the world, learn about different cultures, and to try to understand your world through the eyes of another. There's so much beauty in the differences.
Q: How has your organization improved or innovated the digital landscape in the last year?
LG: Today, the great equalizer is the consumer. This has radically changed what challengers and incumbents look like. The contrast is no longer size, it’s speed. What’s changed is that companies are winning that have become relentlessly customer-centric, where the definition of customer-centricity is helping to make their customers’ lives easier. Companies are not winning because of mere persuasion anymore. As a result, we’re seeing resources move away from marketing and advertising to innovation, product management, and go-to-market. Corporations right now are installing innovation teams and innovative processes and figuring out what’s working. It’s an exciting time. In many ways, it echoes the move from print to digital at the turn of the 21st century.
In this current market dynamic, Alpha is helping companies truly install culture and discipline around innovation. We are using digital tools to affect real change within larger organizations, for whom large market research studies have traditionally been easier to execute than good old-fashioned conversations with customers. As a result, the line is blurring between incumbents and challengers and we’re helping larger organizations gain new footholds.
Q: What value(s) of your organization are you most proud of?
LG: The value of empowerment resonates with me and fuels my drive. At Alpha, the person closest to the problem is equipped with autonomy. It has been liberating to be able to have ownership and push important initiatives out without the red tape that has become the norm in more traditional corporate settings. I've experienced an abundance of professional growth as a result.
Q: Tell us what you hope to see more of or experience more of in the next year, using only emojis.