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“Be a constant student”: Beyond the Brief featuring Katrina Busch, Roberts Communications

Roberts Communications president Katrina Busch

Fulfilling her dream of running an agency had been a full circle moment for Roberts Communications president Katrina Busch. Holding the post of the Rochester, NY-based agency since 2014 has Busch in charge of an entire roster of local and national clients, including D3 Communications, M&T Bank, Xerox and Philips.

Not a big deal, when she’s spent the previous decade leading many of the agency’s B2C and B2B services. The agency’s first female president is leading Roberts to the future, a challenge she’s taken on with remarkable results.

Just this year, the agency won two Pinnacle Awards at the Rochester AMAs for successful B2B and social media campaigns for clients Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and Textron. It was also named by regional newspaper Democrat and Chronicle as one of Rochester’s top places to work for, its fourth consecutive honor. And most recently, it acquired branding shop Brandtatorship. All major moves for a small agency located a little north of Madison Avenue—and Busch is one of the key contributors to the agency’s success.

A standout in the idea business that is taking her agency to new heights, Busch continues to set the tone for her agency by living beyond the brief.

What skill/personality do you have that draws colleagues to you?

I consider myself to be very open, and I try to be a great listener. Facilitating an open environment where all ideas are welcome is something I think the team values, because we’re able to have more information on the table and make better decisions. This is also important to me because I want everyone to feel like we truly are a team, and that we’re all in this together.

I’m also very high-energy and excited about my work. I’m always looking for the next challenge, and “no” isn’t in my vocabulary. When you have the right team, there’s always a way to find a great solution.

What makes you excited about going to work every day?

Every day is different. It’s an expectation that I’ll be met with something unexpected — and that keeps me learning and engaged. I often say “bring it on.” I also feel strongly about delivering on promises, and every day we have a multitude of promises to our clients. It’s exciting to me to come to work every day and make sure that we’re delivering. And of course, to see the bright smiling faces of everyone around me, who are also all conquering the unexpected and delivering great work.

What was your proudest career moment?

The moment when my presidency was announced to the agency. It was the most moving experience to feel that I had so much excitement and support around me. Not only for me, but for what was to come for the organization. Becoming president had always been a dream of mine, and it was so incredible to know that my colleagues believed in me to put my skills and ideas to work. At the same time, there was 10 percent of me that was scared to death. I was used to stepping out of my comfort zone, but that was a really big step.

Where is your happy place/space?

My family’s home on Canandaigua Lake, NY. My mom grew up in the area and was a full-on lake girl, so my father became a lake lover as well. We purchased the property in the mid-80s and my family worked to renovate it. As a kid I remember being annoyed I had to spend another weekend at the lake working, but, holy cow, now every time I walk through the front door I see the fireplace I helped build, the deck I helped design and the beautiful lake that is both peaceful and full of fun.

What life advice do you give others?

Be a constant student. Push yourself to try or learn something new every day. I sure haven’t seen any one criticized for knowing too much. It’s not just about being smart, emotional intelligence is just as important (or I’d say even more important than) book smarts. Empathy and understanding should be a part of every day. The seasoned leader should learn from the first year account exec. The junior art director should learn from the social media director. In advertising, your daily activities almost always include a team. A team to you can learn from, grow with and succeed together.

To celebrate its 100th Anniversary, the 4A’s has partnered with us at The Drum to pull back the curtain and look at an industry full of problem solvers, creative types and analytical minds. But what keeps them going once the briefs are written, the campaigns executed, and the pitches won (or lost)? We’re interviewing 100 people at 4A’s member agencies — across all disciplines, levels, regions, and agency types — to get a glimpse into what drives them at work and what fuels them in life.

To pitch someone from a 4A's member agency for Beyond the Brief, please complete this linked form.