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Thirty Under 30: The best and brightest young direct marketers

The annual Direct Marketing News‘ Thirty Under 30 feature honors the brightest and most ambitious young talent in the direct marketing field. Nominated by their managers and peers and selected by our editors from among nearly 70 entries, these young superstars have achieved impressive professional milestones by their 30th birthdays. The marketing talent on these pages spans channels from social media, search and email to data analysis, CRM and art direction. They lead top accounts at major agencies, and spur the creation of new ideas and use of technology. Please join us in congratulating this crop of young marketers.

Ayush Agarwal, 27
Head of products | CoTweet
Ayush Agarwal has already had many perspectives on the digital world. As a business analyst at McKinsey & Co., he instigated a partnership with TED. Then, as a venture associate at Madrona Venture Group, he sourced and evaluated more than 120 tech startups for the firm’s $650 million-plus fund.

Most recently, within his first six months at CoTweet, Agarwal redefined the social media firm’s release cycle, designed a new pricing model, rolled out an iPhone app and delivered product integrations, including Facebook. His work has led to solutions for more than 150,000 users, as CoTweet becomes a tool for businesses such as Coca-Cola.

Diana Ahrens, 27
Communications supervisor | Eleven Inc.
As communications supervisor at Eleven Inc., Diana Ahrens has had a dramatic impact on revenue, leads and growth, even in a down economy. In fact, she has been an integral part of a near-perfect pitch record. In the past two years, she managed media investment for Virgin America since its launch, including eight new-market launches; increased media client roster and billings seven times in two years; and created partnerships for San Francisco Travel, including cutting edge targeting methodology for the LGBT market. Trilingual Ahrens also brings her talents to the nonprofit front, including securing $500,000 in donated media for three consecutive years for Academy of Friends, which raises funds for AIDS organizations.

Greg Alvo, 26
Founder and CEO | OrderGroove
In these days of declining brand loyalty, Greg Alvo found a way to tweak a platform used by Amazon.com and give clients a better way to retain customers and drive revenues. Raising his first round of financing in 2009, Alvo built a core team and launched OrderGroove, a technology platform that enables marketers to offer their customers ways to renew automatically on their most frequently purchased items.

OrderGroove generated up to 265% increases in revenue for Spencer Forrest and gDiapers by driving frequency of customers’ purchases with subscriptions. Other customers include Sally Beauty Supply, Atkins Diet, PowerBar and My Wines Direct.

Francesca Baraggioli, 26
Director, strategic and analytic consulting group, | Epsilon
Since joining Epsilon after her graduation from Boston College in 2006, Baraggioli rose from an account executive to director of the firm’s strategic and analytic consulting group. She recently released the first in a series of benchmarking performance results in the health vertical, which will set a new standard for evaluating email promotion success metrics.

Baraggioli is also responsible for driving social listening and monitoring effort in the healthcare sector for Epsilon. Last year, she managed listening efforts in the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and breast cancer categories that resulted in key insights for CRM program design.

Brad Beiter, 29
SEO group account director | Performics
Brad Beiter knows about growth. At Performics, he has grown from an entry-level bid strategist to heading client services for the entire SEO department. In working with 25 clients, Beiter and his team of 10 SEO consultants drove organic search traffic growth of 48% over the past 12 months. Beiter’s wall of claim includes optimizing Progressive Insurance’s website to rank higher than their competitors in organic search and solving major technical challenges for Verizon Wireless’ main site.

Perhaps Beiter’s green thumb for search should be expected from someone who at 17 years old attracted the attention of investors and sold his own Internet startup, Starport.com.

Kimberly Brizzolara, 29
Associate creative director | Acxiom Corp.
Kimberly Brizzolara has made her mark on her team by increasing the group’s monthly revenue by 25% over the last six months through new work from existing and new clients, including Microsoft Corp. and AT&T. For client Sun Microsystems, Brizzolara’s campaigns increased response rates by 300% and revived a sleepy audience through an interactive re-engagement assignment. She was also instrumental in a project with Hewlett-Packard for an interactive profiler with a 60% complete rate that ended up as the company’s most successful landing page ever.

Before joining Acxiom several positions ago, Brizzolara interned with the Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive.

Jonathan Burg, 27
Senior social scientist | Digitas
Over the past two years, Jonathan Burg led Digitas‘ development of both Delta and Planters’ social strategies, including the Planters team’s unveiling of Mr. Peanut as the voice of the Planters portfolio on Facebook. Through a series of steps, including a Mr. Peanut college campus tour during the NCAA Final Four, Mr. Peanut’s Facebook fan page grew to more than 262,000 fans in 12 months without the client spending a single dollar in media.

He also helped launch Delta Air Lines’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. By early this year, the company had more than 124,000 followers behind @Delta on Twitter, and about 100,000 fans on Facebook.

Abby Covert, 28
Director, strategic planning and user experience | Draftfcb
Abby Covert’s attitude combined with her experience has driven results for Draftfcb, including as lead user experience (UX) planner on a full-site redesign for Prismacolor, where artists share work online. It tracked a 400% improvement in engagement measured by site traffic, time on site and uploads, comments and views of the member gallery.

She was also the lead UX planner on a Facebook application to let people share their “happy” with Jell-O, building a fan base of more than 150,000 Facebook users within days of launch. After being promoted two times in less than two years, Covert remains focused on her mantra of “make the unclear, clear.”

Billie Edington, 24
Sr. associate, marketing strategy & analysis, social experience | SapientNitro
It’s obvious what SapientNitro thinks of young Billie Edington based on her first assignment with the company. She was part of a team that completed a million-dollar consulting project for Mars Petcare. Since then, she has developed social media strategies for clients, such as Foot Locker, Sony and Dove Chocolate, as well as non-profit work for Cancer Schmancer and Malaria No More.

Edington also hosts her own blog and ran the ING New York City Marathon for charity, raising more than $7,000 for Children’s Hospital Boston. She will record her first EP later this year. Before joining SapientNitro, she freelanced for MTV Networks and BravoTV.

Jessica Every, 27
Manager, strategic services | Digitas Health
Jessica Every, in the space of about six months, honed in on opportunities and insights for 14 Digitas Health clients, including conducting comprehensive market research and assessing the competitive landscape for a wide range of brands. She also identified gaps and opportunities for online advertising messaging, organic and paid search. In addition, Every conducted social listening research and crafted strategic recommendations based on themes and perceptions identified during such research.

Prior to Digitas, she was the senior associate and marketing manager on the AstraZeneca account, helping launch a GI Digest video series.

Omid Farhang, 30
VP, group creative director | Crispin Porter & Bogusky
Omid Farhang joined Crispin Porter & Bogusky (CP&B) as an intern in 2006 and by the end of 2010 he was VP and group creative director. He has spent more than three years as a lead creative on CP&B’s Volkswagen account. In addition, he contributed to campaigns for Burger King, Microsoft Corp., Domino’s, Old Navy and Gap. One of his most notable campaigns was the Baby Carrots “Eat ‘Em Like Junk Food” integrated effort for Bolthouse Farms, which generated more than $10.3 million in earned media based on a total media spend of less than $500,000.

Farhang also writes in his spare time and was featured on McSweeneys.net.

Ben Gaddis, 29
VP, innovation and growth | T3
Last year, Ben Gaddis helped T3, an integrated agency founded by his mother Gay Gaddis more than two decades ago, to win new work with major clients such as Livescribe, Aircell (Gogo Inflight Internet) and Coca-Cola. Perhaps his greatest impact came in his creation and execution of a mobile text-to-text campaign for nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes. This campaign raised awareness for homelessness, led to a home for a homeless man, and generated a 300% increase in online donors.

Before joining the family business, Gaddis was a 26-year-old VP and director of business development at Omnicom’s mobile marketing agency, Ipsh.

Kevin Hill, 27
Paid search account associate | ChannelAdvisor  
Hill manages more than $40 million in revenue and $8 million in ad spending for ChannelAdvisor clients, working on the agency’s largest paid search accounts, including Soccer.com, The Sharper Image and FleetMatics.

For Soccer.com, he harnessed demand created by the World Cup to lead its paid search accounts to 100% year-over-year growth through campaign and keyword development, implementation of new software and engine functionality and ad testing.

Hill has been working with one of the firm’s newest clients, Pureformulas.com, which has already shown a 39% growth in revenue after only five months.

Carolin Hubscher, 27
Art Director | Euro RSCG Chicago
Carolin Hubscher’s recent promotion from junior art director to art director at Euro RSCG‘s Chicago office is indicative of her ability to solve bigger picture marketing problems — a trait not always readily found in 27-year-old art directors. She is part of Euro RSCG’s Sprint team, the largest account at the Chicago office, and has recently added work from other clients to her responsibilities as well. She works across digital and traditional channels. Despite her workload, Hubscher also finds time to mentor. “She never hesitates to help the newer folks, says her team at Euro RSCG. “It is because of her tremendous attitude that we have used her as a mentor to numerous interns.”

Howard Hunt, 29
VP, new business and strategy | The Hyperfactory
Howard Hunt’s ability to adapt has helped his clients thrive in markets worldwide. Prior to joining The Hyperfactory‘s New York office last year, he headed the agency’s Asia Pacific new business team for four years. Hunt led clients including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Motorola, Nike and BlackBerry to multiple award-winning and revenue-generating mobile successes, including 300% year-over-year business growth for BlackBerry.

In his current position, Hunt works with domestic clients,  such as Nestlé, Gerber and Meredith Corp., to navigate the role of mobile in their marketing communications and CRM plans.

Arly Iampietro, 25
Digital campaign strategist | Roska Healthcare Advertising
Working with a highly regulated “black box” pharmaceutical client for Roska Healthcare Advertising, Arly Iampietro’s SEM strategy achieved impressive results, including improving first page rankings versus competitive product sites across multiple keyword phrases by 300%. The effort also led to the client supplementing paid search with banner advertising in the face of regulatory hurdles, with the client increasing its paid search budget by 233% based on results.

She also helped a client generate more than 7,000 physician practice referrals working with a limited budget for a newly approved medical device with limited awareness.
Cynthia Koo, 23
Data analyst | Wunderman
Cynthia Koo stood out to Wunderman even before she graduated from Columbia University due to her analytical and technical skills and a deep understanding of clients’ business needs. She works on top accounts at the agency and can “quickly grasp the core foundations of a client’s industry, their strategic positioning strengths and weaknesses and target audience insights,” according to the firm. Wunderman credits her with adding “valuable content to multimillion-dollar new business initiatives and global client engagements.” Koo has also won the agency’s “Spot Award” and “Employee Recognition Award,” and cofounded Cuvo Design outside the agency.

Amity Zvanut Lackey 30
Director, client services | Medium Blue Search Engine Marketing
In less than six years at Medium Blue Search Engine Marketing, Amity Zvanut Lackey rose through the ranks to become the director of client services, as well as the hiring representative in the company’s human resources department. She manages the company’s largest client — Unique Vacations, which includes Sandals.com, Beaches.com, IslandRoutes.com and GrandPineapple.com. Roughly 90% of her clients have chosen to stay with the company after their contract expired.

In addition to the work she does for Medium Blue, Lackey took on a pro-bono campaign for the Atlanta Humane Society.

Taryn Lomas, 25
CMO | Underground Elephant
As Underground Elephant‘s first hire, Taryn Lomas may also represent the lead generation agency’s most important hire. Responsible for generating more than 50% of Underground Elephant’s daily revenue, she has driven the sales and marketing teams to a projected $30 million in business this year. In 2009, Lomas steered the agency into the education sector, an initiative that is expected to produce more than $20 million in 2011.

In addition to managing the agency’s sales department, she mentors college students in Underground Elephant’s internship program and is a member of the Boys & Girl Clubs’ San Diego chapter.

Mike Marett, 30
EVP of sales | Kyp
Mike Marett has managed to fit a career’s worth of accomplishments in the years before turning 30. In 2007, Marett left his position as senior account executive at RR Donnelley to launch the US operations for London-based Kyp. He has led sales at the independent marketing agency since leading US expansion and supporting global branding. After he opened the New York office, the company has expanded with locations in Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto.

Marett spearheaded led new business wins for clients American Express Co., P&G, Unilever and Pfizer, and oversees the company’s national sales and account teams.

Kristen McCaney, 27
Senior manager, integrated solutions | G2 USA
With a year and a half under her belt at G2 USA, Kristen McCaney has led several successful digital and CRM-focused initiatives for the agency’s P&G CoverGirl brand. Under her leadership, G2 developed a singing competition for its CoverGirl Queen Collection’s Ignite Your Persona campaign, which resulted in 8,000 video submissions with five winners who recorded a new track with Queen Latifah.

Previously, McCaney worked at The Star Group, where she managed the My Coke Rewards Sprite campaign, which increased participation by 15%, and spurred brand loyalty. She is also an active volunteer and runner.

Ellie Mirman, 25
Marketing manager | HubSpot
Ellie Mirman has made her mark on management at HubSpot, including being selected to handle the launch of a new trial program which is now responsible for 20% of the firm’s new business.

Mirman also started the agency’s webinar series from scratch, attracting 500 people to its first webinar in 2007 and expanding it to 13,500 registrants for a single webinar at the end of 2010. She worked tirelessly to make sure the world knew about HubSpot. Through her efforts and those of others, the firm was featured in more than 30 different business books as a case study. She also volunteers at Founder Mentors.

Ruth Mitcham, 27
Manager, client services | BrightWave Marketing
Both the leadership and clients of email and digital marketing services firm BrightWave Marketing have been wowed by the marketing prowess of Ruth Mitcham. “She is the most creative, positive and responsive customer engagement manager imaginable,” raved one client. Company CEO Simms Jenkins called her the “consummate professional at a young age.” As the manager of client services, Mitcham has ensured 100% client retention and also worked to grow incremental revenue by more than 200%. Always up for a challenging marketing problem, she intuitively looks for ways to integrate mobile and social marketing into clients’ existing email programs.

Carolyn Nye, 28
Email marketing manager | USAData
Carolyn Nye grew the amount of sales generated by email programs by more than $3 million in five years while employed as a marketing manager at S&S Worldwide. Since joining USAData late last year, she has established an optimized internal email program and worked with clients to successfully create and manage their email marketing campaigns.

She has also presented at industry events as a thought leader, such as the 2010 Retail Marketing Conference, the 2010 MarketingSherpa Summit and the 2010 Silverpop Client Summit .

On top of her busy schedule, Nye is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in business administration.

Frank O’Brien, 29
Founder | Conversation
Frank O’Brien founded Conversation, an integrated firm with a social bent, in 2008 after working at Mr Youth, Deutsch and Island Def Jam Music Group/Universal Music, overseeing revenue growth of 536% in 2009.

Those results stem from O’Brien’s immersing himself in his client’s world. At Mr. Youth, he grew the creative and interactive division of the agency from a one-man show to an entire department while sustaining nearly 800% growth over a three-year period. At Conversation, O’Brien created an integrated eCRM and mobile program for a casual restaurant client that resulted in a 35% conversion rate for its rewards program.

Carina Pologruto, 28
Director, client services | Marketsmith Inc.
Carina Pologruto is one of those rare birds whose talents span both the left and right sides of the brain. It’s that duality that’s allowed for significant achievements in record time, including turning around a multimillion loss for a Marketsmith Inc.client to a positive bottom line within a year. Pologruto also created a sweepstakes campaign to build a client’s Facebook fan base. Within a few months, the number of fans more than quadrupled. The sweepstakes were directly responsible for incremental revenues with fans having 50% more transactions than non-fans. Another client that opted to use a different firm for a project emailed the CEO of Marketsmith afterward, saying, “I want my Carina back.”

Heather Hilburn Rucker, 28
Senior account executive and marketing contractor | Javelin Direct
As a senior account executive and marketing contractor at Javelin Direct, Rucker has established a reputation for strong project management skills. She handles more than 75 direct mail projects annually with quantities averaging more than 1 million and multiple print formats. Rucker recently developed a welcome touch-stream strategy in an effort to help an entertainment services client alleviate customer churn during the first 90 days of tenure.

Before joining Javelin, Rucker worked as a territory sales manager at Wrigley. She is also an active member of the Direct Marketing Association. In addition, Rucker holds an MBA from Southern Methodist University.

David Schuette, 25
Web marketing analyst | Catalyst
Generating results has been on David Schuette’s mind for many years, including in college, where he started an online media resale business, peaking at $6,000 in monthly sales. More recently, Schuette, a cross-channel agnostic, worked with a Catalyst team to create a franchise deck providing Valvoline Instant Oil Change location owners with a comprehensive, bird’s eye view of their businesses.

Previously, while at Lands’ End, Schuette restructured the retailer’s email marketing data, realizing an 80% gain in efficiency. He also proposed and executed site testing resulting in a functional shift in the way it cross-sold products at the company.

Sarah Van Heirseele, 30
Digital director | Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide  
Sarah VanHeirseele joined Blue Chip as a senior account executive, but quickly made her way to digital director where she leads the firm’s digital practice. Launched in 2010, she has grown the digital division through work with clients such as P&G, On-Cor Frozen Foods and BJ’s Wholesale Club. For P&G, she helped to redesign and update the Military’s “Family Unit” website creating a social media destination that also increased opt-in rates. Under her leadership, Blue Chip Digital is expected to grow from contributing 10% of the firm’s overall revenues to 25%. She taught advertising creative strategy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, while receiving a Master of Science in advertising.

Alice Wilson, 28
Associate manager, social marketing | Southwest Airlines  
Alice Wilson rapidly moved up the ranks at social-media savvy Southwest Airlines, becoming associate manager of social marketing at the airline. She has been instrumental in digital partnerships that have linked Southwest with other organizations, such as an initiative that connected the airline to Gowalla through social media reporting.

She also developed the company’s first Facebook Places campaign that raised more than $300,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Colleagues describe her as “visionary” and “invaluable for any team in the company.” She continues to work with Southwest’s digital agency to develop interactive ads and speak at industry events.

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