This year’s Women & Business Conference theme is “Thriving in the Hive.” What does that mean to you?
This is a very meaningful theme for 2023. Thriving suggests that we are not just surviving but are fully engaged and contributing from a place of abundance and presence. It can be challenging to step into a thriving mindset in view of the many socioeconomic and ecological challenges that we are all facing. And 2023 has had its fair share of challenges. How do we manage to overcome our personal and global limitations? One of the most important factors in thriving is community. As a community, we can share wisdom, and we can help each other go from surviving to thriving. Utah has one of the most dynamic communities I know. There’s a real desire to help and contribute here in the Beehive State. I’m so happy to be a part of it and to be able to lean into this community. For me, 2023 is the year that I chose to step down from the agency that I have helped lead for over two decades. It’s a giant step into the unknown, and yet I feel a sense of thriving, of renewal. I feel calm and peaceful about this change because I know that I have the support of this incredible community.
What is one thing women can do to help each other thrive?
The best thing we can do to help each other is listen. We can actively listen to each other, with respect and care, without trying to “fix” or “help” each other. We can be a mirror for what has been shared, and we can ask questions of each other, and if we have resources to help, then, by all means, do it. The reason why listening is key for women is that we so often are not heard or even given the opportunity to express ourselves. By creating space for each other, we can truly nurture our unique voices. And that’s what the world needs most: our unique and authentic voice.
What accomplishment in your career are you most proud of? Why?
I’m proud of the impact we have had on our employees and clients. I saw the State of Utah Tourism boom thanks to our Mighty Five campaign and then I saw us pivoting towards responsible tourism to help preserve our beautiful state. Every brand transformation we have done nationally or locally, from Palisades Tahoe to Westminster University to Altabank, has had a huge impact on their ability to compete and thrive. I’m proud of the impact we have had on the biotech world, helping hundreds of biotech startups grow exponentially by telling their story through branding and digital transformation. I’m proud of our incredible experiential work to inspire wonder and drive engagement, from JouJou at The Grand America Hotel to McDonald’s SXSW experiences to Nickelodeon Animation’s Studios reimagining to telling the Jacobsen Story in their new headquarters. But perhaps what I am most proud of is our diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts culminating in being recognized by the State of Utah’s 100 Companies Championing Women. I am proud of the huge impact on the women at Struck; their ability to earn a fair wage, raise a family, and have a career. I am aware of the impact this has on their partners, families, children, and our community. Leading the way with equity is by far the most satisfying aspect of my career. Finally, I am proud to have led an agency through many trials and tribulations over 20 years and to see our work be just as relevant today as it was when we started. I’m proud to have fostered a culture of creativity and innovation while managing P&L and a slew of challenges from mental health to the pandemic and changing technologies.
What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs or business professionals?
Always start with value creation. Ask yourself: what is valuable for this business, this market, this customer, my boss? What is the market white space, a need no one else is fulfilling? Once you understand what the value is, ask yourself how you can bring your unique abilities to contribute to creating value.
Understand your strengths, be clear about your unique abilities, and lean on those to create value. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Cultivate your own personal and company brand.
Learn to communicate effectively. It is not enough to bring value; it is important to communicate succinctly, for yourself but also on behalf of your company.
Connect with empathy. Many of my successes have come from being empathetic. It’s important to be authentic in the way you foster relationships, and always bring empathy to any relationship. Don’t go at it alone. Lean on experts to help you and your business grow.
How do you stay resilient in a rapidly evolving business landscape?
You have to cultivate what I call ‘optimistic realism.’ Cultivate a positive outlook based on data and experience. You do not want to be blindly optimistic and disregard reality, otherwise, you will miss important pivots and course corrections. On the other hand, you do not want to be hopelessly pessimistic, as you will also miss important opportunities. Every challenge is an opportunity. When things are slow, put your time and effort into all the things you always wished you’d done for your new business pipeline and marketing, for instance. Turn lemons into lemonades. Keep going.
Pauline Ploquin is a pivotal figure in Struck’s story and success as an agency. She doesn’t just understand what makes the agency unique — she’s one of the key individuals who has made it so. Pauline led Struck’s strategic planning process, operations, finance, culture and growth. In 2023, after 20 years of leadership, Pauline left Struck to start her own consulting and coaching practice. Follow her on LinkedIn for more information.
One of her superpowers is empowering others. Focusing on human outcomes as well as business outcomes, she’s pioneered Struck’s initiatives to measure client satisfaction, prioritize mental health and wellness, and expand equity, diversity, and inclusion. Her resume spans decades of transformative work for clients ranging from the Olympic games to Dreamworks, the Utah Office of Tourism, Biltmore, Sony, McDonald’s, Universal Studios, ICON Fitness, and Altabank. She enjoys sharing her time and talents with organizations ranging from community nonprofits to national industry and advocacy groups, and has spoken at TEDx and EVComm London.
She finds peace and inspiration in the outdoors, exploring the farthest wilds of Utah’s desert with her husband, carving ski turns with friends and enjoying good reads on the porch with her cat.