O’Hare Headlines 7th Annual AdLib The VP of global brand communications for adidas delivered the keynote address at a daylong advertising and marketing conference full of networking opportunities for students.
For the 7th Annual AdLib Conference at Washington and Lee on March 2, Alegra O’Hare ’94 brought her marketing expertise — not to mention a snazzy pair of black-and-white sneakers — to the Stackhouse Theater stage.
O’Hare, vice president of global brand communications for adidas, returned to the W&L campus for the first time in 20 years to network with students and deliver the AdLib keynote address. Her talk focused on five key lessons she has learned during her career in brand marketing.
The point she hammered heaviest was that a good team (part of what she calls “Vitamin T”) is paramount to success in the field. “They say retail is dead, TV is dead, and content is king,” she said. “Well, content isn’t king if you don’t have the right people working on it. People are king — content is queen.”
O’Hare, who majored in psychology at W&L before going on to study at the SDA Bocconi School of Management and Harvard Business School, also stressed to students in the audience that “it’s OK not to know” where they want to ultimately end up in their careers. “My major took me to a place I never could have imagined,” she said.
Read more about O’Hare, who was named one of the 35 most powerful women in sports by AdWeek magazine, in this W&L alumni profile.
“Alegra’s participation was incredibly valuable and sparked some real thinking,” said Amanda Bower, the Charles C. Holbrook, Jr. ’72 Professor of Business Administration at W&L and the faculty advisor for AdLib. “She was so generous with her time and thoughts, and the students have absorbed it all. My email is filled with students who want to talk about how she has changed their thinking about their own personal and professional directions.”
The AdLib conference, which first took place in 2011, has evolved into a daylong event that allows current students to network with alumni in the advertising and marketing industries. This year’s event was made possible in part by a donation from Jackson Spalding, a marketing communications company co-founded by Glen Jackson ’85.
In addition to O’Hare’s keynote address, this year’s conference included coffee talks, luncheons, and a panel discussion on how to break into the industry. The following alumni donated their time and spent the day at their alma mater:
Carly Sachs ’07 (The Hershey Company)
Maria Blackwell ’07 (C.F. Sauer Company)
Ben Gillespie ’03 (UPS)
Bethany Evans ’05 (Southwest Airlines)
Colton Payne ’10 (Brown-Forman)
Marty Ritter ’04 (The Martin Agency)
Marshall Woodward ’16 (Redscout)
Jillian Leigh ’17 (Burns Group)
Rachel Baker ’17 (Wildfire)
“Our students might have a sort of preconceived notion about what they should do when they graduate, or what they should major in to be able to do that,” Bower said. “AdLib demonstrates to them that there are so many other career options and experiences available to them, and that there are a variety of different paths to get there. Alegra was a psychology major, and Ben Gillespie was a history major, and both are doing some very big, very cool things.”
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