Delivery Sessions: Interviews with Great PMs (Sheryl Gillette)

We had the pleasure of interviewing Sheryl Gillette, the Vice President, Project Management at Scoppechio. Scoppechio, founded in 1987, provides a comprehensive omnichannel suite of services for its clients with a robust, in-house production capability that provides digital, video and photographic content for a wide range of clients that include GE Appliances, Darden, Yum Brands, Brown-Forman, Baptist Health and more.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background and your path to becoming the Vice President, Project Management at Scoppechio?

I am a Jacksonville, FL native and I started my career thinking I wanted a career as a Deaf Education teacher. But after an internship at a small niche publishing company, I found a love for printing, production, and planning.  I left that company as General Manager after 9 years and was excited to pursue an opportunity to learn more about high-end printing and international print buying at the third largest stock photography company in the world. Print manufacturing and technology was changing so quickly at that time and it was great to be involved. I was also interested in large format printing, window and environmental design so about a decade later, I took a bit of a redirect, stepping down as a VP of Print Buying and Marketing, to become a Corporate Project Manager at Coldwater Creek, a large Woman’s Apparel Company. My time there really set the course for me and my career in Project Management and opened some amazing doors for me over the next 12 years, first at Saatchi & Saatchi X, where I built the Project Management Office (PMO) there, and then Publix Super Markets, which had an existing in-house agency model and PMO, but was quickly evolving and growing to become a more data driven discipline. When I learned about Scoppechio and their passion around building a best in class Project Management office in Louisville, and saw the amazing work they were doing as an omnichannel agency in the Retail, Healthcare, and Restaurant space, I knew I had to be a part of it.

What do you think are the skills that you have that naturally allowed you to become a great project manager?

I am curious by nature and I am a learner. These skills have served me well as a project manager and have helped me learn over time to know which questions to ask to get to the heart of a problem or opportunity quickly, and helped me become a better collaborator.  I want to understand all the ways a project can fit together, what dependencies it may have on other projects or activities, so I can craft the best holistic project plan possible that allows my team to deliver great work to our internal and external clients with minimal risk. It helps to also be a bit fearless!

Are there any role models that shaped how you manage teams now?

Absolutely! I have had some amazing leaders, and co-workers that have inspired me to a better manager than each day before. While at Publix, I had the privilege of working with Joa Pope, Agency and Creative Operations Leader (and former Sr. Manager, Marketing Operations at Publix Super Markets), whose investment in mentoring, listening, and coaching her teams made you aspire to set you own personal bar just a little bit higher and challenge yourself just a little bit more each day.  Because of her own pursuit of excellence, I invested in my craft and pursued and obtained my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification two years ago. Also, I believe the gift of time is the greatest gift you can give to another person, so by investing in the growth of others, this is never time wasted to me. I also admired the work of the late Don Soderquist, who after retiring from Walmart, founded the Soderquist Leadership Center, which provides value-focused development training for executive leaders across the country. I still keep a copy of his book “Live, Learn, Lead to Make a Difference” in my office and share it often.


What do you think are some of the biggest challenges that PMs face in agencies today?

The need to create and manage more and more dynamic creative content, with shorter project timelines will continue to challenge existing tools and infrastructures within agencies. Tools will need to be more connected, easier to use, and accessible to more stakeholders to meet client demands.  You will have to have the resources available to create this mass content. Another challenge is the growing tendency to meld several PM methodologies into a blended approach. PMs will have to continue to ensure they are up to speed on the latest methods so we know which parts can be best applied to our specific project needs, at the right intersections.

What are the characteristics you are looking for when hiring a new Project Manager?

One of the things I look for specifically in a candidate is whether they have a servant leadership mentality or not. This is one of the best characteristics a PM can have. If you are focused on the growth and well-being of the people you are serving and working alongside of each day, you are virtually guaranteed to be seen as a valued contributor within your organization. I also look for the ability to be agile. The ability to pivot or flex quickly, and calmly, will help instill confidence in a team, and allow a PM to effectively leverage resources well, and get to the finish line successfully.

What are some changes that you would like to see in the agency space?

I think agencies need to continue to look for ways to be more adaptive and reflective of clients’ needs. Agencies will have to develop or acquire better tools to manage data, trends, challenges, and compete in the speed to market arena. Marrying creativity with data will be key.

What does the future of project management looks like in the advertising industry and how do you think we can better prepare for that?

I believe we will continue to see an increase in the use of a remote workforce, and/or freelancers. For PMs, managing these teams create a unique set of challenges as it relates to time, task and people management. We’ll need to make it more of a focus to minimize risks better while keeping dispersed teams motivated and connected to each other. Processes, structures, and tools to enhance teams communications will be critical to a team’s success in the future.