Working women receive a slew of advice — lean in, lean out, be aggressive, but not too aggressive. We’re constantly inspired by the women who are paving the way and taking charge in the ever-evolving world of technology. Welcome to This Woman’s Work, a series highlighting how different women are advancing the tech industry, both professionally and personally. This month, we caught up with Devin McNalley, Associate Director of Ad Quality at Amnet.
IX: Tell us about Amnet. How does it fit within the Dentsu-Aegis Network?
DM: Amnet is part of Dentsu Aegis Network’s investment division, Amplifi. At Amnet, we create solutions designed to drive value for our clients through the use of technology, insight, and creative thinking. There is also an energy at Amnet that’s truly contagious — we’re a group of problem solvers and we thrive when given a good challenge.
IX: What does your current role at Amnet entail? What problems are you working to solve, day-to-day?
DM: I am currently part of the digital strategy team, focusing on developing and implementing our ad quality and brand safety strategy. Our goal is to eliminate wasted media dollars for our clients and ensure we are delivering best-in-class solutions across every pillar of their businesses.
The ad quality space evolves daily, and brand safety concerns arise from every angle, so my day-to-day really fluctuates. Currently, we are researching Blockchain solutions, supply path optimization (SPO), and comprehensive fraud management strategies. We want to continue leading in this space by bringing in new technology solutions and creating new partnerships with players who align with our thinking around a transparent media supply chain.
IX: Love to hear this. Now, turning the clock back a bit, it looks like you’ve worn quite a few hats over the course of your career… Can you tell us a bit more about your career journey to date?
DM: I started in broadcast radio sales and quickly realized that money, or the sale, was not a motivator for me. But I loved the relationship-building and problem-solving mentality that came with sales.
After a short stint in radio, I left and began doing freelance social media consulting for small businesses in Ann Arbor. Then, after freelancing for about two years, I stepped into the corporate world and worked in the marketing department for The Auto Club Group (AAA Insurance) for three years.
While there, I led the development of their social media program and team, working closely with other departments like direct mail and print to try and build bridges between the digital and print worlds. It was a great learning experience for me and it really has allowed me to better understand the corporate structure when working with clients today.
I joined Amnet after my time at AAA and have been here ever since. I am lucky in that I’ve had the chance to wear a few different hats at Amnet as well. I started as an account manager, dedicated to organizing and creating new programmatic supply relationships. Living in the PMP world, I also had the unique opportunity to learn the supply side of the media industry from the buyer’s perspective.
More recently, in the spring of 2018, I took on a new challenge and jumped in to lead ad quality and brand safety strategy. Something I value immensely in a company is being given the opportunity to challenge my thinking and work on projects that allow me grow my knowledge of the space. Amnet does just that — it is a huge benefit of working here. You just need to be willing to raise your hand.
IX: And what led you to get involved in the world of programmatic, specifically?
DM: Pure luck, really. I had someone in my life (Ben Couture) who took a chance on me and told me to apply for a role at Amnet, as he felt I would be a good fit for the company. I knew nothing about programmatic, but I knew I was ready for something more challenging, and after hearing how highly Ben spoke of Amnet, I thought, “Why not?”
Best career decision I have ever made. It’s a reminder of how great things can happen when you step outside of your comfort zone and take a risk on your career.
IX: Is there any piece of advice you wish you’d gotten at the start of your career?
DM: Get out of your own way. Although I believe some lessons must be learned the hard way, this is one thing I wish someone had sat me down and told me directly.
You couldn’t tell 21, 24, or even 25-year-old Devin anything — ego and stubbornness really got in the way of some potentially great opportunities. I have learned over the past nine years that there is value in having patience and being quiet about your successes. Opportunities for growth started coming to me after I realized that hard work, the ability to be agile and kindness never go unnoticed.
IX: We couldn’t agree more. Now, outside of the office, can you tell us a bit about your involvement with TogetherDigital Detroit?
DM: I was Googling “women’s networking groups,” stumbled upon TogetherDigital, and was completely impressed with their mission. It was something I had never seen before, especially in Detroit.
TogetherDigital is focused on women finding their power and using it. The organization is designed to help women grow in their careers and empowers women to work together and challenge the status quo. The values of this organization resonated so deeply with me, I knew I needed to be involved. I joined immediately, not realizing Detroit didn’t even have a chapter yet.
Luckily, that same day I met Alaina Shearer (the founder) in such a serendipitous way: I stumbled into their first Detroit happy hour. Alaina and I immediately clicked and realized our passion for helping women grow and overcome adversity, sexual harassment, and the pay gap was something we were both clearly behind. I decided to launch the Detroit chapter that night.
I have now had the privilege of leading the Detroit chapter as City Champion for almost 3 years. The Detroit chapter launched in late summer of 2017 and we have grown to over 100 members throughout the metro Detroit area. This organization gave me something I didn’t realize I needed: a true sense of purpose.
We are a national organization filled with over 2,000 powerful women nationwide. From C-suite to entry level, we challenge each other, support one another, and align through our mission to help women find their power and use it to grow both professionally and personally. Check out the TogetherDigital website to learn more, and be sure to stop by one of the open meet-ups in your city!
IX: Who are some “women in digital” (or outside of the industry) who have inspired you?
DM: I could name so many women in my life who inspire me daily. I am surrounded by smart, hard-working women. But my mom is my biggest inspiration (and she is not in my industry at all).
My mom has taught me that you can grow in your career without sacrificing your true self. I watched her grow within her company, go back to school to get her degree, participate in school functions and be the rock to our family during tough times. Never once did she give up, quit or make excuses — she continues to challenge her company with new ideas and surpass expectations. She lets her actions speak for themselves and has mastered the art of being present. When my mom is with her family, she is present in that moment; when she is at work, she is focused on her work. Having a woman like that as a role model has affected me more than I realized it would. To this day, I find myself aspiring to handle conflict the way she does, approach team projects with her mentality and always stand up for what I believe in, including myself.
IX: All right, last but not least! What’s your favorite thing to do in Motor City?
DM: Eat! The food scene in Detroit has really taken off over the past five years. There is nothing better to me than hanging out downtown, when the weather is nice, and checking out a new restaurant or bar. The Motor City brings out this creative energy in people that you can really taste in all the new restaurants popping up around town — there really is something for everyone here.