W2O Group has experienced growth by welcoming new team members, unveiling new tools and celebrating program milestones. To continue the momentum, we announced today three new hires: Jeff Burnett, Donna Duncan, and Chuck Hemann (returning W2O-er) who will further strengthen our Chicago office.
As an NYC transfer myself, I’m thrilled to be part of this exciting expansion of our office. I sat down with our three new team members to gain more insight into their background, their vision for their roles, and to learn more about their favorite things about Chicago!
Anita: Welcome to the Chicago office! We’re so excited to have you all here. Can you share your background and how that is in sync with your role here?
Jeff: I’ve had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of clients over the course of my career on both Rx and OTC products with many pharma and CPG giants – from toothpaste to transplantation, GERD to gut health and COPD to constipation. I love digging in deep with clients, helping them solve problems and bringing innovative programming to life. My role allows me the flexibility to do just that as well as grow our base of business in health and wellness.
Donna: Thanks for the warm welcome – I’m delighted to be part of W2O Group. My passion for healthcare communications started here in Chicago about 20 years ago, leading community relations for the regional organ bank. On the agency side, I’ve led integrated teams across the health and wellness spectrum – including pharmaceuticals, hospitals, associations, advocacy and consumer packaged goods. As part of the growing office in Chicago, I’m excited to be leading teams in the development of insights-driven activations that optimize the right marketing communications mix.
Chuck: I started my career in public relations/investor relations research, and have since transitioned into social and digital analytics. I’ve spent most of my career in agencies, though I did just complete a tour of duty in the big company world (Intel) leading global media and digital analytics.
Anita: What is your approach to learning and staying up to speed?
Jeff: As someone who started my career looking up media contacts in Bacon’s…I find the best way to stay up to speed is to stay close to the work. I am also a pop culture junkie and firmly believe there is no better way to know what is going on in the world than to follow societal trends.
Donna: I’m a digital and audiophile when it comes to gathering news and insights. I read The New York Times Morning Briefing each day before my feet hit the floor, and I can tell if I’m running late based on when the theme from NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report kicks in. I love podcasts for learning and for deeper dives into specific topics. A new one I’m enjoying is I Hate My Boss, which despite its name, takes a very positive look at strategies that help you love your workplace and be a better leader. I also think it’s critical to learn from other people’s experience, which I find through storytelling podcasts like The Moth.
Chuck: This is a really hard thing to do, believe it or not, because there are so many sources of information. I typically rely on two places: My LinkedIn newsfeed and an occasional glance at Twitter.
Anita: What is your “super power”?
Jeff: The early bird gets the worm – which also could be the best piece of advice I ever received. For me, the height of my productivity is from 6 am – 9 am. I take advantage of that time to power through key materials that require deep thought and send off key correspondence that I know I won’t be able to get to once the day takes off.
Donna: I’d have to say adaptability. For me, adaptability means moving through difficult situations with a goal in mind, being open to new ways of working, seeking out others with knowledge and expertise, and collaborating to find solutions and new opportunities.
Chuck: Wow. Great question. My super power? I think if I were to pinpoint just one thing it would be that I’m pretty low key in almost every situation. I don’t have very many highs and lows.
Anita: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Jeff: The time you have is the time you need. You can’t add time to the day and while I could wring my hands and worry about how little time I have to accomplish a task, all I am doing is wasting time by doing so.
Donna: Leave time for listening. We pride ourselves on preparedness and counsel, but in the rush to present our good thinking it’s easy to sweep past the pauses. When we leave time to listen, we open doors to conversations that help to re-align against our goals, set priorities and discover unexpected opportunities.
Chuck: Always be curious and open-minded. There have been a number of people throughout my career who have tried to impart on me the importance of being curious, but to me it is the most important part of our profession.
Anita: Ok. Now for the speed round. All about Chicago! Favorite pizza place?
Jeff: Dark horse entry from the suburbs, I have to say Viccino’s in Glenview.
Donna: Lou Malnati’s. It’s all about the butter crust.
Chuck: Full disclosure: If you would’ve asked me this question about two years ago I would’ve told you Lou’s. Hands down. Now, though? I love Pequod’s.
Anita: Favorite Chicago neighborhood?
Jeff: West Loop – so many great restaurants, so little time.
Donna: Logan Square, for its great mix of people, always-growing list of bars and restaurants, and beautiful parks and boulevards.
Chuck: I’m biased, but I love the River West neighborhood.
Anita: Favorite Chicago landmark?
Jeff: Chicago features some of the world’s best skyscrapers in many styles by many prominent architects. One only has to look up. I’ve had the pleasure of working in 2 iconic Chicago landmarks – the John Hancock and Aon buildings.
Donna: So many amazing choices, but the Chicago Cultural Center comes out on top for its architecture, amazing Tiffany glass dome, and its history of free public access.
Chuck: Any place with a rooftop? Just kidding. I love Wrigley Field.
Anita: Cubs or Sox?
Jeff: Um yeah, not a baseball fan but to be fair, not a sports fan, in general.
Donna: Sox during the regular season, but neutral enough to root for the Cubs when they make into the playoffs.
Chuck: I’m originally from Cleveland so this question hurts my sports soul a little bit. But I think I’ll answer by saying Cubs. Who hates the Cubs, really?
Anita: Thank you, all – that was fun! Looking forward to working with you all to #MakeItHappen here in Chicago! And as we always say here at the office, it’s all about #ChicagoRising…
View the official release for more details around the announcement here.