NextUP… Samantha Rotbart
Director of External Communications at RE/MAX, LLC
Samantha Rotbart, director of external communications at RE/MAX, LLC, talks to Isis Simpson-Mersha and Katy Colón from Ragan and D S Simon Media about why she moved to New York City after graduation. She highlights the importance of having work friends. Rotbart also discusses her goals for the future including being a mentor and redefining what success looks like.
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KATY: Hi, I’m Katy Colón. I’m the Client Service and Marketing Associate here at D S Simon Media.
ISIS: Hi, I’m Isis Simpson-Mersha, Conference Producer and Reporter at Ragan. And today we’re here with Sam. Sam, I’m so excited to have you join us today.
SAMANTHA: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here with you guys.
ISIS: So, I want to talk about, you know, sort of the beginning of your career. And I want to know why did you start your career in New York City?
SAMANTHA: Yeah, a couple of reasons actually. I went to Syracuse University, so I was already in upstate New York, and made a lot of great friends and connections out there. And a lot of those people were from the East Coast. And so, everyone was kind of moving to the city, and I wanted to be a part of that experience with them and keep up those relationships I had built. And another reason was just there are so many companies headquartered in New York City and also PR agencies, and I was looking for that entry-level PR job and, felt like there were more opportunities, and more places for me to apply, and kind of a greater chance of getting hired after graduation during that rush when everyone’s applying and, you know, there’s a lot of excitement, it felt like there were just more opportunities in a city like that. And it was also just fun having been from Denver to try and live in a new place. I mean, obviously, I did that in college as well, but not as an adult outside of the school environment, it kind of worked out from a social perspective and then also professional as well.
KATY: Yeah, that’s great. I know you mentioned a bit about your friends, and I wanted to know what is the importance of work friends and how did that enhance your experience in the work environment?
SAMANTHA: I love my work friends. I’m still friends with them today. I met them at Ogilvy, New York. It was a wide range of work, friends, and probably a couple of people that were one or two years older than me. Some peers were great friends as well. So, I think that that was just an invaluable experience for me. I really learned how to be in the workplace and ask them questions that felt silly to ask. You know, some of the more senior people in our department like how to forward our phone line, how to reserve a conference room, all of those things that you just don’t know from being a student and going into the professional world. And so, being able to have those relationships and close friends and be able to ask those questions was super important to me. And then also it just made work fun. I mean, we had some long days here and there, and we would go in conference rooms, and kind of order food together, and plug through our work. And I think that really made it a fun place to be in an environment that was warm and welcoming when it could be kind of scary to try out a new career, that was just of the utmost importance to me. And I think one other thing I’ll mention is we weren’t on the same account, so a lot of times just in speaking with work friends, you kind of learned about the different projects they were working on and that was really eye-opening and something that you wouldn’t know if you didn’t kind of foster those relationships and hear about all the amazing businesses out there and how PR agencies kind of work with them. So, very cool and super glad to have them in my life still.
ISIS: Awesome, you know, I have to agree with you, Sam. I feel like work friends are such a large component of like work culture and, you know, your growth at work, if you’re struggling with something, you know, it’s likely that you’re going to struggle with a coworker or if you have success or you’re going to celebrate with them. So, it’s just, I mean, I feel the same with my coworkers like we, you know, like, you know, just be together and learn from each other. So, especially friends in different roles, I think that’s important as well. And so then obviously, you’re in New York City. This is it’s such a large and fast-paced city and you work at this big company. You know, what is the value of working at such a large company?
SAMANTHA: You’re kind of a sponge at that point in your career, and I think that’s something you should try to hold on to even as you progress. And so, I feel like, you know, the more people you’re around, the more opportunities you have to kind of see that talent in action. So, that’s a huge deal. We also just had a big company, a lot of great resources, and activities that were kind of outside of the day-to-day business with your clients. And so, we had committees for party planning, actually their really important corporate experiences to learn. I think event planning is very big and PR and so kind of putting together an event when we have a Christmas party or a summer party is all kind of related to the profession and the whole. I’m sorry, my dog is chiming in on this discussion, but she agreed.
ISIS: No worries, we love it.
SAMANTHA: She agrees, I’m sure that it’s very important just to kind of have all of those great activities, and resources, and speakers that come in. So, I think that that is really what a big company is all about.
KATY: What is the biggest challenge about your role?
SAMANTHA: My biggest challenge now is RE/MAX has a ton of different audiences, which is super exciting, but we have franchise owners and then they have agents that work with them. And then we also have consumers, of course, so home buyers and sellers. And then we also have a very big HQ staff. So, there are just a lot of different audiences to communicate with. And I think that that sometimes brings challenges because there are messages that are targeted to one group or that might be relevant to only one group, but you have to think of everyone on the whole. Since we’re all working towards the same goal and all working for the same team.
ISIS: All right. And given that Ragan’s communications week theme, which is honestly Communications week is just a few weeks now, wow, given that communications week this year is “Meet the Moment.” How will you rise to the occasion over the next few months in your career journey?
SAMANTHA: It’s a great question. I think that’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately as I am starting to mentor and manage more people. I’ve managed one person in the past and now I have a couple of people that I manage, and I feel like that’s taught me a lot about thinking about our group’s success on the whole, and also planning and being strategic of how to utilize everyone’s strengths because everyone brings so many great talents to the table and your skill set might be complementary to somebody else’s. And the more you kind of dig into that and discover what those unique talents are on your team, you can kind of create a plan for the year ahead and for meeting your goals. And that’s not something I had too much experience in, I think at the beginning of your career, you’re so focused on, you know, how do I keep rising and how do I make sure that I’m doing my part in the organization? And then you kind of realize that you are a part of this greater picture and that mentoring others kind of rising tide lifts all ships. That’s something I’m really going to work on in the next couple of months and in the next year is just working with my team and learning more about the amazing things they can do and then kind of looking at the picture more holistically and then just going to work each day and trying to have a great day. Those are all really important, but I think the more you can kind of look ahead and view it as a bigger picture, the more successful you’ll be in leading a team.
ISIS: Well, I love that answer because it’s such a, you know, a positive lens on you and how you connect with everyone and what you do. So, that’s really awesome.
SAMANTHA: Thank you, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by some great, talented coworkers, so it makes it easy.
ISIS: It does make it so much easier. Sam, it has been a pleasure.
SAMANTHA: Thank you so much for having me and my dog. She likes being here. So, appreciate it.