March 1, 2023
Living Your Why: Q&A with Luquire President Stephanie Spicer
For more than a decade, VP of Strategy Stephanie Spicer helped clients find their “why.” Why? Because she knows that the heart of any strong brand narrative is not “what” they do or “how” they do it, but why they do it.
A year ago Stephanie took on the role of President and as such, official guardian of Luquire’s why, ensuring every team member understands their individual and collective roles in helping Luquire (and its clients) achieve ambitious goals.
This International Women’s Day, we turned the tables on Stephanie to learn more about her own why and how it has shaped her trajectory as a strategic leader, the opportunity she sees for ad agencies to lean into business consultancy, and why being a working mom is actually a professional superpower.
What drew you to the advertising industry?
I didn’t intend to go into advertising – my degree is in commerce. In college, I thought I wanted to be a management consultant because it seemed like an opportunity to make a difference, and that felt awesome.
At the same time, I took the one advertising class UVA offered, and it was all about understanding people and how they are motivated. I loved it – I loved the psychology of it.
Did you have a mentor?
Yes, I did – my boss at Grey, Lisa Rubinich – I adored her. She put everything into perspective. You stress so much in the agency world about things that are important, but nothing is life-or-death important. She understood the balance of prioritizing important things while still showing support for her team members, letting them know she was on their side.
You advanced quickly and had opportunities to manage people at a relatively young age – what would you attribute that to? What skills did you have?
I did, and for that I’m extremely fortunate. I recognize that my path has likely been easier than many women in this industry, and in the workforce generally, and I’m grateful both for the trailblazers who paved the way for people like me to succeed and my own peers, colleagues and managers who encouraged me to harness my own power.
Even in my earliest years, I always felt supported by male and female colleagues alike, and as a result was empowered to share my opinions and ideas internally and with clients. That support gave me confidence in myself and my work and is something that has stayed with me throughout numerous agencies and positions.
I also think my ability to get things done without getting lost in the weeds has served me particularly well in my career. In advertising being able to see the bigger picture of a campaign is one of the best things we can do to help our clients win.
What additional leadership skills have you developed over the years on your track to president?
As an agencywide leader, anticipating industry trends and seeing how these trends can be utilized to best serve our clients is a huge part of my role. Additionally, one of Luquire’s core values is, “You Can’t Fake Passion,” and [Luquire CEO] Brooks [Luquire] and I feel strongly that emboldening our team to live these core values starts from the top down, so we both try to inspire that palpable zeal.
When you look at leadership at the department level, it is more about understanding individuals and what motivates them and what they want their career paths to be, and what skills they should be nurturing. I don’t know if I’m perfect at that, but I try my hardest.
One could argue that makes you a good leader, no? Knowing not just what you’re good at, but also what you want to work on.
My grandmother once said, “The only time you ever need to worry about being a bad parent is when you stop.” There is a lot of truth to that in a work environment, too.
Speaking of parenting, you and many of the Luquire team members you lead are working mothers. It’s no secret that working motherhood can feel like a juggle – exhausting, too much at times. But is there another narrative to pull out? One in which being a parent actually serves your role and enhances your skills as a professional.
Like my mentor Lisa, having kids also put things into perspective. It also made me a little softer – in a good way. I’m very opinionated and headstrong, and you simply can’t be that way as a parent. Humility, patience – so many of the characteristics that make a good leader – are aligned with good parenting and give a positive transfer to the job.
At the same time, on the other side, my kids get a different perspective of the world because I work. My daughter is obsessed with talking with me about my job – she wants to help me solve problems – she’s got more of me in her than I realized!
The balance is not easy and I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy, but it definitely enhances who I am both as mom and as a professional, and I hope others see that.
You’ve just hit your one-year anniversary as president of Luquire. What are you most excited about looking ahead to year two?
I’m excited for the momentum that we have. The talent at this agency is so magical right now, and I want Luquire to get credit for the brilliance of our team. I don’t think people quite understand the caliber of talent that you get when you partner with Luquire (whether as an employee or a client), and I want the world to know that.
With your talented team and continued leadership, what do you think is the next big opportunity for the agency?
As I mentioned, seeing the big picture is such an important part of the advertising puzzle and the agencywide changes we’ve implemented over the past year have been laser focused on ensuring our collective team is set up to be able to do just that.
Where many agencies have pigeon-holed themselves, siloing their worlds to advertising or PR or content, Luquire has set out to make the role of agencies much bigger and broader. We have the opportunity to impact positive change for our clients because of our expertise in obtaining consumer insights and leveraging them in all the right ways – ways that fuel the Brand with a capital B, not just the marketing.