Meet Mary Carpenter, an executive marketing consultant and rock star member of We Are Rosie. After an impressive tenure at top media firms including Starcom and PHD, Mary made the leap to independent consulting in 2019. Since then, she’s worked with clients—including a We Are Rosie partner—on all kinds of projects, from measurement strategy to project leadership.
We recently caught up with Mary to learn about her path to consulting and why she became a Rosie.
What was the moment you decided to pivot your career and go independent?
After five years of running the Midwest region of PHD as President, I decided to take a bit of time off. It was important for me to spend more time with my daughter, who was a senior in high school, and with my father, who was facing some health challenges. I did a consulting project with an independent agency and realized how gratifying it was to share my expertise while having the flexibility to work on my terms.
What concerns did you have about making the switch to consulting?
I was anxious about two things: how would I find clients, and would I make an impact without a team or company behind me? Fortunately, both have not been a concern. I’ve been lucky to have a steady stream of assignments through referrals and actively reaching out to colleagues who might need my help. In terms of making an impact, I’ve contributed effectively to every assignment, which has given me a lot of confidence.
What have been the greatest gifts of your consulting career?
In addition to flexibility, the main reason I am committed to staying independent is that I find the work more satisfying. Consulting tends to have more tangible deliverables and deadlines than a senior role overseeing an ongoing client relationship. As a consultant, I can assess a situation and make an impact quickly, and I like the gratification of completing a job.
Why did you join We Are Rosie?
A trusted colleague recommended that I get to know Stephanie Nadi Olson, who had recently formed We Are Rosie. I was impressed with her vision for a more flexible work model, so I added my profile to the We Are Rosie system. I had an opportunity for a 12-week assignment that was a nice fit with other projects I had at the time. That engagement opened the door to a second assignment with the same company.
How is working with We Are Rosie different from other freelance roles you’ve had?
In my other engagements, I’ve been the one to find opportunities and negotiate terms. I needed to prepare and submit invoices and waited to be paid for at least 30 days. It was amazing to have We Are Rosie come to me with the opportunity and handle the details related to contracts and billing. We Are Rosie has an easy timecard system and pays consultants within a week. Everyone I’ve worked with at We Are Rosie has been wonderful.
What are three pieces of advice you’d give to someone starting their independent marketing career?
I recommend that anyone considering this path form an LLC, which will allow you to create a taxpayer ID and have a W9 for your business. Early on, I also found it helpful to talk with colleagues who had a similar experience to understand how to price services and to get a sense of how others have secured assignments. Finally, networking is essential. Make sure people in your network know what you are doing. Stay in touch with people you think might need your services and influential people who might know others who need help.
As we look to the rest of 2022 and beyond, what marketing workforce trends are you watching?
The obvious trend is remote work, which has radically changed since I started consulting in 2019. The ways independent marketers contribute in a remote work environment are much broader than they were in an office environment. Consultants used to be very project-focused with a tightly defined scope of work. Now, independent workers can fill open roles and easily handle day-to-day tasks alongside the rest of the team.I’m also closely watching the economic environment.
Financial pressures, especially in an economic downturn, could make consulting work harder to come by. But those conditions also provide opportunities as companies may be constrained to hire full-time roles. Even more important, in a tough environment clients need decisive advice on how the media can help them mitigate challenges and continue to grow.
Whether you’re an executive like Mary or in the early years of your marketing career, We Are Rosie is your home for flexible, remote work opportunities with the biggest brands and agencies in the world. Join the community today.