Leading Ladies: Joy Liu

One awesome thing about living in New York City – and traveling around doing TV shows – is that I get to meet people with very cool jobs.

So, I started thinking - why not introduce you to some of them?

For all of you fabulous career girls, I am excited to start a series of interviews I am calling “Leading Ladies.” 

These are people who are going places – or are already there. 

It didn’t take long to decide who to interview for the first feature.  Joy Liu is one of the most hard-working, creative and organized people I know.  She is also one of the nicest people I know, and a great friend to me and so many others. 

Joy radiates excitement about life and work, and is genuinely interested in people and helping them succeed.  When it comes to “leading” ladies – she is definitely at the forefront at the ad agency where she works and, as you will see, among other young women who want to make it in NYC.

Joy has been a speaker at several career panel discussions I have hosted for university students visiting NYC.  They love hearing about her cool job in advertising, how she got there and her straightforward advice about looking for a job and being successful in your career. 

Let me introduce you to….

Joy Liu

What do you do? 

By day, I am an Account Executive at Burns Group, an advertising agency in New York City. I manage day to day marketing activities for brands such as Yellow Tail, Josh Cellars, and Ricola. 

Where are you from?  Where did you go to school?

I grew up in small-town Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  I moved to the east coast for college where I attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island.  I graduated in 2012 with a degree in Advertising and Marketing Communications.

How did you end up in NYC?

The spring before I graduated, I got the job offer of my dreams from BBDO New York, one of the world's largest advertising agencies, to work on one of the most widely loved chocolate brands in the world - M&M'S. It was amazing. It was scary. So I accepted, and packed up a U-Haul and drove to the Big Apple that summer. 

How did you get your job?

 I got my first job by getting involved with the American Advertising Federation as a student. I got to participate in the Most Promising Multicultural Student program with 50 other students from across the country. We spent 3 days in NYC meeting sitting in on industry panels, agency visits, and most importantly, a career fair comprised of all of the top agencies. I got lucky that day and was offered a job on the spot. 

After 3 years at BBDO, I had gotten my butt kicked and got back up many, many times. The result:  I learned a lot. I got the lay of the land for the industry from the viewpoint at the very top. I was in the big leagues from the start. Big teams, budgets, marketing plans, the Super Bowl. You know, the way it "should be." 

Right as I was leaving for my very first "business trip" representing BBDO, I was offered an incredible opportunity to switch jobs and go to another agency. A much smaller agency. A completely different culture, more flexibility, and bigger salary. No one tells you how scary it is to quit your first job. But I did it, and that's how I got to where I am today.  

What is your typical work day like?

A typical work day as an Account Executive in advertising is pretty unpredictable. No matter the size of the agency, AEs wear many hats.  We're jacks of many trades, but most importantly we're relationship managers. In other words, I schedule a lot of meetings and read/write a lot of emails/make a lot of presentations (decks, we call them). Luckily, the subjects of those meetings are generally fun topics - like what is the new TV ad idea, what kind of celebrity should be in it, is that color really expressing the essence of the brand, how would this work in Snapchat, is honey lemon or cherry a better cough drop flavor? It's not rocket science, but we like to pretend it is. 

Tell us about The Lady Project.

On the side, I am the City Manager for the NYC chapter of The Lady Project. A non-profit organization with a mission of connecting, inspiring, and showcasing awesome women doing amazing things through monthly events, membership, and community engagement. 

Lady Project is all about celebrating female friendships and helping you find "your people" - those like-minded, smart, savvy, driven ladies from all different backgrounds. We're creating the Old Boys Club, but for the girls. 

It was founded by one of my best friends when I was in college. As we've all graduated and moved to different places, we've brought Lady Project with us. 

What inspires you?

Great people, good food, and big, ingenious and unbelievably simple ideas

What advice would you offer to new grads starting their careers?

Go into it with the expectation that you have a lot to learn and your bachelor's degree is nothing special (but a necessary evil). 

Trust your gut. There is no such thing as the "right" or "wrong" job. There are downsides to every job. The upside is whatever you make of it and how you take the experience you gained and apply it to the next job. 

Regularly check-in with yourself on your accomplishments, and keep an on-going list of those "wins" no matter how big or small. This is good to use in performance reviews / building a case for a promotion or raise. Good information to keep top of mind for job interviews. 

Thank you, Joy!  Such great advice, whether you are several years into your career or are job hunting with that brand-new diploma.

You can follow Joy on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Have a great week, everyone!


* All photos by Jennifer Brister