Michelle Truong is a Senior Communications Analyst at the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC), the world’s largest equity derivatives clearing organization. This year, she was our go-to person for a variety of large-scale collateral for OCC’s pinnacle event, the Options Industry Conference.
I interviewed Michelle as part of our 6 Questions feature: a series of interviews with people we work with who inspire us to do our jobs better. We build close relationships with our clients as we work together to solve their marketing and branding needs, and Michelle is one such partner. With her guidance, OCC has put out some remarkable, award-winning materials.
Read more to find out about how Michelle balances her to-do list, the power of Post-its and when to just let it go.
1. We know we can always count on you to be organized. What are some ways you balance all of your communications duties at OCC? Do you have any tips?
I try to put everything into my calendar in order to manage due dates for deliverables. I create a to-do list in my calendar, flag important emails and make sure to follow up on them before I leave the office each day. I’m also pretty old school—I love writing Post-it notes. I have a bunch of notes stuck to my monitor and wall, and when I complete a task, I love ripping the note off, crumpling it up and tossing it in the trash. It makes me feel so accomplished!
When working with BatesMeron, I love that Basecamp is used—it’s a new tool for me and I just love it how it keeps me extra organized when working with a team of contributors. As for tips, always carry a pen and paper into every meeting, no matter how formal or informal. Unless you have an out-of-this world memory, the power of pen and paper rules my universe.
2. What’s it like working in the fast-paced world of OCC as a communications professional? What are some things you’ve learned during your years there, and what do you love most about representing the voice of your company?
OCC is a wonderful place to work. I am coming up on three years with the company and I’ve enjoyed all the projects that I’ve worked on. It’s an exciting place to be, especially with the gamut of projects that come up, from corporate-structured assignments to more relaxed and free-flowing creative projects, there is never a dull moment. I am lucky to be a part of a stellar communications team, and we pride ourselves on helping each other out and staying with the current in terms of what new communication channels our audiences might respond well to.
I’ve learned so much in my time here, both in terms of hard and soft skills. The new tools I’ve mastered and the different methodologies for approaching complex problems are now with me. That’s what I love about representing OCC; we always look for new and exciting ways of communicating what can sometimes be construed as a “boring” industry.
3. You oversee the marketing and communications for the annual Options Industry Conference, which just took place in Austin. What have you learned about managing all the collateral for such a pinnacle event for the OCC?
The annual Options Industry Conference in Austin this year was so fun. I really enjoyed all of the creative pieces, panels and entertainment that we put together. This was my third conference, and what I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as being too prepared. Setbacks happen, no matter how much you plan ahead. There should always be a plan B in your back pocket, because you never know what can change. It’s imperative to make all decisions against the budget you’re working with, and with the attendees’ best interest in mind.
Aside from being too prepared, I’ve learned that sometimes you just need to let things go. Things that can go wrong will, and as long as you did your best and what you could, at the end of the day that’s all that can be done. Thankfully there’s been no huge conference incident that illustrates these things but there have been plenty of little things that I wish I did differently or did better. But it’s all part of the process; each conference that goes by I think that it can’t possibly get better than that but it does! And I love that.
4. You help keep OCC relevant and accessible in an already fast-paced world. Can you tell us about the new conference mobile app and how it will change OIC?
The new conference mobile app is great—we received so much positive feedback on it and have realized some major benefits that it has brought us. We toyed around with the idea of a mobile app in past years, but it just wasn’t the right time for us. We completely revamped our website just two years ago, so that was the first step in moving towards a more mobile friendly state.
In 2012 we debuted an electronic-only final program on an e-reader, which was met with mostly positive reviews from our attendees, but people still wanted to hold a tangible book. We realized that the timing wasn’t right to go from 0 to 100 in terms of our collateral versus electronic offerings. We decided to offer a mobile app this year, while still keeping our printed final program. We were blown away by the adoption rate (60%) and the positive feedback that we’ve gotten.
The fact that a majority of our attendees have smart phones and/or tablets convinced us that this mobile app would be a useful resource for our attendees while adding value to our sponsors and exhibitors. This app has made the conference experience even more seamless and intuitive for our attendees, and it will be making a return appearance next year.
5. We love working with you because you speak the same language as our designers and writers. Tell us about your experience working with our team?
I really enjoy working with the team at BatesMeron. Everyone is really skilled at what they do and they all produce great work. It’s neat because I get to work with another group of talented communications professionals aside from my colleagues. I feel like I’ve gotten to work with mostly everyone on the BMSD team—principal, programmers, designers, project managers, copywriters and even the adorable BatesMeron mascot, Sukhi the dog (or so that’s what I consider her in my head).
With help from the team, I feel like I’ve improved so many of my hard skills (WordPress, MailChimp, Cvent, etc.) through training and constructive guidance. I feel like I can clearly communicate my ideas and criticisms and that they’re met with an understanding eye. The rapport that I have built with the team has also improved my soft skills. It’s a great working relationship and I am excited to see what other projects we have in store together.
6. We’ve worked together for a few years—what’s been your favorite project so far?
We’ve worked together on so many projects (holiday cards, conference videos, printed programs, email templates, etc.) but my favorite project so far, hands down, has been the conference website redesign. Ever since we moved from our home-grown, antiquated website to the easy, self-manageable world of WordPress, my day-to-day responsibilities have changed for the better. WordPress has really made a huge difference in how quickly information can be pushed out to our audience. The fact that I can make all of the site updates myself (I am not a computer programmer by any means) has been really valuable. I love the way the site is redesigned and how its new look (which is updated every year to reflect that year’s conference theme) and functionality addressed all of our pressing concerns.
Working with BatesMeron to redesign and build out our site was the right decision because it allowed us the opportunity to work with an agency that really listened to us and deliver a custom site design with custom functionality. We looked at other companies that offered out-of-the-box solutions with some room for customization but nothing else offered us what BatesMeron was able to create.
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