Q&A with Deirdre Mikolajcik, Account Manager!

Posted November 14, 2023 by Brightly creative.

A self-described “Productive Dilettante,” Deirdre spent more than a decade working in higher education and holds a Ph.D. in English literature with a subfield focus in both economic theory and gender studies. While an unusual entrée into the agency world, this background developed necessary skills such as project management, networking and communications while providing her with an “outsider’s perspective” and depth of knowledge across a range of topics that is the foundation for creating fresh and memorable client work. 

Prior to joining Brightly, Deirdre worked with other boutique agencies on client accounts as varied as individual talent in the entertainment world and regional soft drink companies to global coatings companies and cannabis-space startups.

How did you find out about Brightly Creative, and what drew you to the account manager position?

I came across Brightly’s job listing on LinkedIn and was drawn to the company because of the food and beverage focus. While I’ve worked in a variety of sectors, my favorite clients were always food and bev, and I was excited at the prospect of getting to focus entirely in that world. I was also attracted to the size of the company — small enough to be nimble and quick moving but large enough that I would have people to learn from and opportunities for professional growth.   

You have a Ph.D.! How will your education and skills help you reach your goals at Brightly?

One of the main skills that earning a Ph.D. honed for me was establishing a hierarchy of information. When writing a dissertation, the amount of research you execute can be overwhelming and requires you to constantly ask, “How does this fit into my larger project?” If it doesn’t fit, regardless of how interesting or flashy the information might be, then it doesn’t get into the project. These moments also provide a good opportunity to check in with the larger project and make sure that the project is still on track to accomplish what it is supposed to accomplish. This skill translates pretty directly into client projects: Does this tool fit the client’s needs? Is the project on track? If not, what adjustments need to be made and what is the most effective way to make those adjustments?

You live in the heart of bourbon country! Let’s talk whiskey. What are your top three favorites?

Right now, my favorite bourbon is Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Year Old. Noah’s Mill, a small batch bourbon, was my favorite before McKenna. I’m also a big fan of Michter’s Rye, especially for a Manhattan. My current cocktail fix is a Vieux Carré with Michter’s Rye. If you’re offered a bottle of Peerless Absinthe Barrel finished Rye, you should absolutely say yes — I finished mine about a year ago and have been on the hunt for it again since then!

Let’s take a look at your desk. What’s your must-have item(s)?

Outside of my laptop, I need my Logitech MX keyboard, a lamp, and pen and paper. I have long nails — a good friend of mine is a nail tech who uses me as a willing test subject for techniques, new products etc. — and the shape of the keys on the Logitech MX Keyboard help reduce typos and the noisy clacking that come with having long nails. A lamp is essential because I hate overhead lighting and only turn it on as a last resort. Pen and paper are essential because I find a blank page less intimidating than a blank screen. All my brainstorming and first drafts are composed long-hand where I can cross out, scribble, draw arrows between ideas, and generally make a mess of things as I flush and flesh out ideas.

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