As global chief marketing officer for branding firm Siegel+Gale, Margaret, an Offaly native and Harvard graduate, delivers breakthrough marketing and business development programmes on a daily basis.
In March 2016, Margaret began sharing photos of various Irish fashion pieces on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and encouraged others to dress head-to-toe in Irish-designed clothing, or pick one item or accessory to wear, in celebration of our heritage, all the time using the hashtag #WearingIrish.
“I came to New York over 20 years ago on a one year internship with Enterprise Ireland. I worked my way up the city ranks and now I lead global marketing and new business at Siegel+Gale (part of Omnicom), one of the world’s top branding consultancies. Our services include brand strategy, design, naming, research and employee engagement and our clients include GE, SAP, American Express, Novartis and the NBA, among others. We are known as the simplicity company because the brand strategies and experiences we deliver are rooted in simplicity. By cutting through the clutter, they’re impossible to ignore.”
I realised in secondary school that I wanted to become a marketer because the profession requires a blend of communications, creativity, analysis and team-building skills. I studied business and Spanish at the University of Ulster, and spent a year at the University of Valladolid in Spain. I then went on to get an MBA from Harvard Business School. The most important aspect of my job is inspiring and guiding my high-performance team. I created #WearingIrish as a passion project in 2016 to build awareness of the diversity and calibre of Irish fashion. I champion Irish fashion and jewellery designers by wearing their creations and posting photos on social media. The movement achieved major momentum last March with press and thousands of posts on social media by those who joined #WearingIrish. I see tremendous opportunity for Irish designers to capitalise on the fact that Ireland owns the month of March. No other country in the world owns a month. That’s a powerful asset.
“My days consist of a combination of internal management tasks as well as representing Siegel+Gale at events, in the media and to new clients. I really enjoy meeting prospective clients to understand their branding challenges and identify how Siegel+Gale can help them achieve their business goals through the lens of branding. I strive to bring a sense and sensibility, a blend of analytics and creative thinking, to everything I do. My professional accolades include being named among the Top 50 Power Women of Irish America, Top 100 Irish American Business Leaders, Top 10 CMOs on Twitter and a Top CMO Influencer.”
On a personal level, it’s exhilarating to discover and wear high-quality designs that aren’t mass-produced or expected. From an economic development standpoint, there’s a strong case to be made for the Irish government and industry to promote Ireland’s fashion talent. Irish fashion does not receive the recognition it deserves. My vision was simple. I wanted to create a movement around #WearingIrish, that men and women around the world will choose to buy at least one item of Irish fashion to wear every March. Ultimately, it’s about building Ireland’s reputation for fashion. We live in an era where designers are highly valued in every sector. Showcasing Ireland’s fashion is a tangible way to demonstrate our creativity. The benefits of this positioning and further creating ‘Brand Ireland’ accrue way beyond the design sector, especially as it relates to creating jobs.
“Strive to balance confidence, competence and curiosity. Competence is about having marketable skills. You need to bring value to your employer. Confidence is being proud enough of your ability to show that you care, and communicative enough to raise your hand for opportunities. Curiosity is being unrelenting in your discipline and never assuming that you’ve figured it all out.”
There is a great focus on global issues in Ireland and Irish people have always had a keen interest in the rest of the world, which is often reflected in their conversation. New York’s vibrancy, fast pace, endless possibilities and seamless integration of work and life suit me perfectly. The biggest challenge is that it’s an expensive place to live and work. I love living in Manhattan with my husband and two sons, even though my sons don’t spend enough time with their grandparents in Offaly! I’m the eldest of six children so they have lots of cousins that they would love to see. I have no plans to leave New York. I’m proud of my connection to Ireland and would like to continue to contribute to its growth.