When Mary Gabbard looks at the inner workings of a marketing agency, she sees systems to perfect, problems to solve, and processes that can be more effective. Her experience working within agencies of all sizes, specifically in traffic management, runs deep—more than 15 years, which, using the standard calculation, is about 60 agency years. She’s a self-described numbers person who sees scheduling, forecasting, and traffic management like a game of chess—thinking several steps ahead wins the day. And if she can make the schedules of four kids in sports fit together, we’re sure scheduling our time will be a breeze. To hear more about the skills and perspective Mary brings to Well Done, we sat down for an interview.
Q: Mary, tell me a little about yourself.
A: Well, I’m originally from New Jersey. I moved to Indiana after college when my parents moved to Fort Wayne. I discovered there’s a big difference between East Coast and Midwestern people. The people here are nice and they want to talk to you—it’s definitely the best place to have and raise kids.
Q: Tell me about your kids—how many do you have?
A: I’ve got four kids ranging from 12 to 6 years old. The oldest is a girl and the younger three are boys. They’re all involved in sports and my oldest is in dance and cheerleading. Dance and cheer competitions mean that while we live in Fort Wayne, I’m in Indy most weekends with her. But I’m not the typical dance mom—I grew up a tomboy playing basketball. I have no idea what’s going on, but I’m happy to be supportive. The boys are involved in various sports including karate. Between all of them, we’re always heading somewhere for sports.
Q: Well, if you can make all those schedules work together, being a traffic manager sounds like it comes easy to you.
A: I see traffic as identifying problems and figuring out how to resolve them. Dissecting them, finding creative ways to make things work better. It’s like moving the pieces on a chess board and seeing the ways one move affects the options and openings around it, considering the ways that affects future moves. You’ve got to think several steps ahead. I love thinking about things that way.
Q: How long have you been a traffic manager in the agency world?
A: Seventeen years. I know the ins and outs of agencies at this point, of big and small agencies. At one point I worked for a 60-person agency, another time it was 15. Melissa Sunsdahl has spoken so highly of this place. She and I have been friends for a long time. I’ve heard so many great things about not only the work Well Done produces, but the great team that makes it happen. It’s the people here that really sold me.
Q: So, are you a numbers person or a people person?
A: I’m a numbers person. I love dissecting and analyzing—I find it to be fun. I think every job has a challenge, the biggest one for me is understanding everyone’s needs. Those of the client, those of the job, and those of the team. And everyone’s personalities and how they approach things are different, so there’s that aspect of it as well, getting everyone to work together well.
Q: Sounds like you may be a people person, too. What are you most looking forward to in this role?
A: I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and apply it here. I already see there are ways to use systems more fully, to create some better workflows, and create some efficiencies. I’m excited to do that.
Q: What do you do in your free time, Mary?
A: My husband and I are really into home improvements. I love interior design and he’s really handy, so together we have a vision of what’s possible and make it happen together. We do that in our house and also out in the garden. One of my kids loves to get things growing, so we always have something going on out in the garden. We’re a busy family with four kids and three dogs, so there’s always something happening.
We’re excited to have you bring that knack for making it all work to Well Done, Mary. Welcome to the team!