GWPR Masterclass: Building Strong Relationships, Embracing Change, and Creating Value in Communications

Published 22nd Jan 2024

GWPR Empower Masterclass from “The Unstoppable Duo: Nancy Ruscheinski and Kathy Krenger

Blog post by Viviana Cruz, Senior Communications Specialist at Siemens Energy North America, based in Mexico City and mentee on the GWPR EMPOWER programme

Nancy Ruscheinski and Kathy KrengerThe virtual room was buzzing with excitement as the second international leadership masterclass of the GWPR EMPOWER Mentoring Programme kicked off. Mentees from all over the world had gathered for a unique opportunity to learn from two successful women in the communications industry: Nancy Ruscheinski, the Chief Operating Officer for Zeno Group, and Kathy Krenger, the Global Corporate Affairs Head of Kraft Heinz.

Kathy and Nancy’s story goes back more than 20 years, when they both worked for Edelman, one of the world’s largest PR agencies. Kathy started her career in consumer PR, while Nancy was running Edelman’s Employee Insights and Solutions practice. Their paths crossed when Kathy became Nancy’s client at Hyatt Hotels, where she was the Head of Global Communications. Little did they know that their friendship and professional relationship would endure for decades, spanning different companies and continents.

As the virtual session began, Kathy shared her career journey, which was not without challenges. She faced the hurdle of many companies preferring to hire people with in-house experience, which made it difficult for her as an agency person. However, she persevered and eventually landed a job at Hyatt, where her agency experience proved to be a huge benefit to the company. She also talked about the big pivot in her career when she moved from travel to food, which taught her valuable lessons about adapting to change and learning from new experiences.

Nancy, on the other hand, has spent most of her career at Edelman, where she worked for almost 30 years. She then moved to Zeno, where she currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer. Nancy shared that her agency experience has been invaluable in her current role, where she oversees the agency’s global operations. She also talked about the challenges of working with clients amid a pandemic but emphasised that having a good relationship built on trust and empathy is crucial in overcoming those challenges.

The conversation continued with the speakers discussing the benefits of having an agency perspective in a client-side role. Kathy acknowledged the bias against agency people in some companies, but both speakers emphasized the value that agency experience can bring, such as the ability to move quickly, think creatively, and provide an outside perspective. Kathy shared her experience of advocating for the use of an agency when she joined Kraft Heinz, despite the company’s previous negative experiences with agencies. She emphasized the importance of having an outside counsellor who can bring different thinking and challenge the company’s assumptions. She also highlighted the importance of building a dedicated team that trusts each other and cares about the work.

Overall, the session was a great opportunity for the EMPOWER Mentees to learn from two successful women who have navigated the communications industry with resilience, adaptability, and a deep commitment to building strong relationships. It highlighted the importance of embracing change, leveraging one’s experience, and having diverse perspectives in the constantly evolving world of communications. As the session drew to a close, the Mentees left feeling inspired, empowered, and ready to take on the industry’s challenges with renewed vigour and confidence.