Senior account director, financial services at Tag, New York on being a shy kid and an assertive leader and the importance of having fun while producing a high level of work
“Effervescent.” That’s the word used by a former colleague and now friend of Sarah Jacobs when asked to describe her in one word.
“Friends and colleagues may find it hard to believe, but I was a very shy kid for most of my childhood,” says Sarah. “I remember my high school English teacher asking me to be more assertive; there was absolutely no inkling I would end up in my current career, where I am often assertive and speak up.”
That career has taken Sarah to her current position of senior account director, financial services at Tag
in New York, where she started as an account manager in 2015. The middle child sandwiched between four brothers, Sarah (like many people) fell into advertising. After studying International Relations at the University of Denver, she imagined she’d end up working in government or at a non-profit, but a junior level marketing producer / project manager role opened up at the agency a friend was working at, and she jumped at the opportunity.
“The most memorable project of my early career was working on a trade show for an enterprise-level risk management and legal data-base,” Sarah tells me. “It was a fully integrated campaign, with a gamification element at the trade show. I remember staying up all night entering target leads into an excel sheet before flying across the country the next morning. It was clear that the trade show presence was important to the client, but you could tell they were proud to be bringing something different to the trade show (this was before gamification was common). It was an exciting experience.”
A project that she believes went on to influence her career the most was an enterprise scale rebrand for a top 100 financial services company, and the first large scale project that’d be involved in that included managing a micro-team internally, managing a huge set of client expectations, and also dealing with sensitive material that couldn’t go to market before the whole thing was ready to go live. “This tapped into my existing client service skill set but also crafting skills for process management and creating efficiencies in those projects.
“I love working with a creative group,” Sarah adds, speaking about her colleagues at Tag. “From the design team that is focused on delivering something aesthetically creative, to the process development and client communication team, who take a creative approach to operations to help produce the best outcomes.”
Thinking about the financial sector that she operates in at Tag, Sarah is keen for more innovative customer engagement tools that can act as advertising but also offer bona fide information and/or information to the consumer. “Think: thought leaders, gamification, (virtual) events, etc.,” she says. “With the emphasis on personal data, people also want customised advice, and what better way to provide that than through a thought leader and community piece. I think that one thing we’ll continue to see is community engagement – brands will need to strike the right balance and tone with their customers to create meaningful engagement.
“The industry is doing a really good job at actioning change, shifting from print to digital, responding to the customer’s new way of interacting with financial institutions and insurance agents,” she adds. “I want to see the industry continuing to adopt change, quickly and to be open to doing things more along the lines of the retail and consumer sector, within regulatory guidelines.”
Outside of work, exercise keeps Sarah grounded. Pre-pandemic she was a spin instructor but more recently has relied on more outdoorsy escapades, such as hiking, backpacking, and in the winter, skiing and snowshoeing, to stay active. She has also been indulging in the virtues of Netflix and social media while more experiential activities have been off the cards (although are finally opening up in her hometown of New York City). “I love that anyone and everyone can be a creator on social media and that you don’t need to be trained in post production to create beautiful content!
“Collaborating with different creative talents and resources,” Sarah adds while pondering her the things that motivate her in life and work. “Working together to bring about positive outcomes for our clients. Doing good work together and finding a way to have fun when doing it.”