CAMD alumna Colleen Finnegan, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Industry and Business Management in 2011, has worn many hats – both during her time as a student and after graduation. While earning her undergraduate degree, she held co-ops at Nettwerk Music Group and the Middle East Nightclub (simultaneously), and later at her own event production company, while also working at Starbucks and fitting in all of her coursework. After graduating, she worked for a year in Boston before moving to California, where she landed a job at Twitter and then Pandora. Now, she has been working at Pandora for five years, where she currently leads the Employee Experience and Marketing Team. She loves what she does, and we were lucky enough to catch up with her recently even with her busy schedule. Learn more about her current role, and how she got there, below!
Tell us about what your team does at Pandora.
The Employee Experience and Marketing Team at Pandora produces marketing campaigns and events that tell the story of Pandora’s culture and employees, and develops programs and events to keep our employees engaged.
We do this via three methods:
- Telling the story of Pandora and our employees across digital, social and experiential channels
- Expanding recruiting pipelines through targeted recruitment marketing campaigns
- Driving workplace connection and fostering belonging through focused engagement efforts
Team meeting at Pandora
How did your time at Northeastern lead you to Pandora and on to your current position?
It’s a long, nuanced story – this is my attempt at keeping it short. While at Northeastern, I was a shift manager at a Starbucks in the mornings (one of the best companies I’ve ever worked for, hands down) and had a split co-op between Nettwerk Music Group and the Middle East Nightclub at the same time. Once my co-op was over, I continued working at the club at night and working at Starbucks in the morning, going to class in between. I don’t remember when I slept!
For my next co-op, I created an event production company and began producing queer events around Boston and Cambridge, as well as producing concerts at the Middle East. At one point I was also handling merch, or the door, or the phones, at three or four major venues in Boston. (Pro-tip: that’s a great way to get your name out there and network). After I finished classes at the end of 2010, I was hired as a sales rep at Sonicbids, a music tech startup, and eventually moved into account management. I was still producing events and working at venues in the evenings.
About a year later, in 2011, I moved to California without a job or a plan – mostly for career opportunities, but also for the whole “no winter” thing. After a few months, Twitter hired me when they were going through a hiring spurt in their Inside Sales / Account Management department. I got the job because of my usage of Twitter for both my personal brand and for the events I threw, but I had no experience in paid media management and spent quite a few late nights learning about things like CTR, CPM, CPC, relevancy scores, and frequency capping. Thankfully I ramped up quickly and the job really clicked, but I missed working in music and live events. A role opened up at Pandora that was a combination of sales, digital media and event management – the perfect role for me given my background – and I went through the interview process and thankfully got the job! I’ve been at Pandora in various roles for almost five years now.
My career path hasn’t been linear, which is something that I am very thankful for. I have carried over unique skills and experiences from every job I’ve had into my current role.
You began at Pandora as an event manager for external company events – what prompted you to make the switch to internally-focused work?
While I was producing concerts for Pandora, I also started to take an interest in Diversity and Inclusion and office culture, and started to do some work on various initiatives in that world in addition to my work in concert production. As my interests expanded, and my appreciation for what a special culture we have at Pandora grew, I realized that amplifying our culture and working to make Pandora an incredible place to work was what I wanted to do for my full time job. Creating events and experiences is something I love to do, and something I am lucky to still do in my current role.
Team with BJ the Chicago Kid at diversity mixer
Can you tell me about some of your favorite projects and events that you’ve worked on or are planning to work on?
So many! One of my favorite programs is Pandora Performs, our annual employee talent show. We have so many talented musicians/artists that work at Pandora. It’s an incredible experience to see a whole different side of the folks you work with all day. This talent show also becomes content for things like our People of Pandora Podcast, videos (like the one above), social media content, and more. My team handles everything from event development/design/execution, the internal promo and RSVP process, audio and video recording, and content creation using the collateral gathered at this show. Essentially, any employee engagement program we have then becomes the marketing collateral we use for our Recruitment Marketing and Employment Branding efforts.
Colleen (right) and colleague having fun at the office!
What do some of your future work plans look like? What sort of events are you hoping to bring to Pandora?
A big focus for me right now is keeping employees engaged in our locations outside of Oakland (our headquarters). Part of the work for this will be releasing an Employee Engagement survey that focuses on the effectiveness of the programs we offer. Part of the follow up to the survey will be conducting focus groups in most of our major offices, and then adjusting my strategy for the remainder of the year planning for 2018.
If you could offer any advice to current Music Industry students. what would it be?
It sounds cheesy, but listen to your heart. Move in a direction that feels good to you and aligns with your beliefs. It might take you on a different path than what you had envisioned for yourself, but that’s not always a bad thing. Also, remember that the only consistent thing in the industry now is change. Embrace it, be flexible, and don’t dig in your feet when everyone around you is moving forward.
Instead of thinking of where you’d rather be, give your current job and position your “all” and learn everything you possibly can while you’re there. Someone once told me to work at a company until there is nothing left to learn. That is valuable advice and I’ve used it for every step of my career.