Business graduate finds success in the big apple

First published 2 April 2020

“I wanted a business career that was going to be fun. Advertising sounded like a good place to be.” 

Having played a hand in the PR rollout of a number of notable advertising campaigns including the Cannes launch of Ethel Goldschmidt's fake beer brand, Kaya’s career choice has delivered more than a little fun.

 

Now living and working remotely for the time being in New York, Kaya heads up U.S. marketing and communications for WPP’s global media agency, Wavemaker, which has clients that include IKEA, L’Oreal and Paramount Pictures. As a managing partner, she oversees internal communications, public relations, marketing campaigns and events for the agency’s six American offices.

Kaya first landed in the United States as a fresh QUT graduate in 2006.

“I had wanted to take a gap year to travel before starting uni, but my Dad always said I should first complete a degree and then take the year off,” she shared.

“What can I say, he was right. It worked out very well for me.”

After finishing her Bachelor of Business (Communications and Advertising) degree, Kaya took a year off to travel the world – taking on a mix of internships and adventures. She started with an internship at DDB Worldwide’s Seattle office, later moving to Sydney to join the company’s graduate program and joining DDB Sydney as an account person for several years. Kaya eventually moved to New York and ultimately took on the role of Associate Director of Communications at DDB U.S.

“It’s not necessarily easy to secure, but the best piece of advice I can give current students is to get real world experience early on,” Kaya said. 

“When I graduated, I had good grades but not enough job experience with real companies. Taking a year after graduating to travel and intern at DDB in Seattle really opened doors for me.”

Working in communications has also given Kaya the opportunity to tackle many exciting projects.

Kaya is particularly proud of communications efforts that allow her employers to give back or help an organisation’s employees to better get to know one another. She was excited to launch a, social media campaign that essentially Twitter-stalked and positively surprised people in the ad industry with holiday gifts. The campaign won Kaya a Crain’s New York ‘Business Best Idea’ Award.

When asked what made her choose QUT, Kaya says she, “liked QUT’s real world tagline.”

“I knew that my effort in the classroom would result in an actual job.” And it did.

“I also loved the real-world experience that the professors brought into the lecture hall. And the city location is ideal too!”

Life experience has helped her stay grounded – particularly when it comes to professional achievement. She notes there’s always a new goal around the corner and highlights the importance of celebrating each accomplishment before rushing to the next.

“I’ve learned it’s important to stop and smell the roses. I lost my Dad when I was 17 and took on a mortgage with my two siblings; I had to grow up fast, and I was hungry to achieve and succeed. I didn’t always celebrate the happy moments or pause to take it all in when I got that promotion or new job.”

Looking at where she is now, Kaya attributes real life work experience as being key to her success.

“Network, make connections, find a way to work part-time in your desired field while you study if you possibly can,” emphasises Kaya.

“Get that experience. And don’t wait until you graduate!”