Ann Mack: From Prison Reporter to Facebook

Ohio native Ann Mack followed a unique career path to become director of business solutions, global business marketing at Facebook. She started out covering the prison beat for the Mansfield News Journal, an intense, life-changing job. (Mansfield is home to the Ohio State Reformatory, also known as the prison from The Shawshank Redemption.) Ann then moved to New York City — and later, Silicon Valley — for work, doing corporate communications for advertising company J. Walter Thompson and market research for Facebook. On Episode 33 of the Coffee Break w/NYWICI podcast, Ann shares what she’s learned throughout her career. Here are some key insights from her hour-long conversation with host Julie Hochheiser Ilkovich.

Trying a new career? Find a way to transfer your skills
Ann’s journalistic skills—learned at that very first newspaper job—have served her well in various roles. “Journalism is a throughline throughout my career,” she says. “What I was doing at JWT and now at Facebook is very journalistic: reading everything I can get my hands on, doing a lot of research, talking to a lot of influencers and experts across multiple fields…connecting dots, synthesizing information, and packaging it up in new and interesting ways to appeal to their intended audience. That’s very journalistic in nature.”

Don’t be afraid to take a leap
After a decade at JWT, Ann wanted to be part of the technology world, so she accepted a role at Facebook on their Global Consumer Insights team. She’d lived in New York City for 15 years, and moving to San Francisco was an adjustment. Although she was able to easily find a social circle and adapt to the outdoor lifestyle, it took her a while to figure out the new office culture. “At Facebook, it’s all about cross-functionality and getting stakeholder feedback,” she says. “That was a huge learning curve for me.” Professional growth isn’t always easy, but it’s definitely worth it.

You don’t have to meet every single job requirement
When looking at job listings, Ann advises paying more attention to the description than the title. And don’t count yourself out if you meet most — but not all — of the requirements. “If it’s oriented towards you, you’ll check three-quarters of those boxes and it’s okay if you don’t check that last quarter,” she says. “If the job doesn’t stretch you in new and interesting ways, then why consider it?”

Set realistic goals—and hold yourself accountable
Every year on her birthday, Ann writes down her vision of where she wants to be in one year. She keeps it on her phone where she can easily refer back to it, and she also shares it with her team and family, so they can help her stick to the plan. And most importantly? She makes sure the vision is something she can actually achieve. “Don’t put too much in it that you won’t be able to accomplish,” she says. “But also be forgiving with yourself.”

Thanks to Ann Mack for being part of the podcast! You can listen to all the episodes of Coffee Break w/ NYWICI here.
—Andrea Goldstein


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