AARP

Capitol Communicator is running profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “up close and personal” profile, we feature Martha Boudreau. Photography for the “up close and personal” series is by Cade Martin; wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Martha, please provide us a short bio.

As EVP and Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at AARP, I am responsible for harnessing the organization’s significant communications and marketing channels to create one clear voice for the organization. My responsibilities include managing our brand campaign, driving membership acquisition and creating a more valuable and seamless experience for our 37 million members. Our contact centers, which handle 500,000 calls a month and our award-winning publications, AARP The Magazine and The Bulletin, are immensely important assets for which I am also responsible. Before joining AARP in 2014, I was President, Mid-Atlantic & Latin America regions for FleishmanHillard. During my 27 years at FH, I also ran the Washington office for nearly ten years. My career started on Capitol Hill and included time with the Columbia Institute. A Detroit native, I graduated from the University of Michigan after spending my first two years at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

I am a member of the Arthur W. Page Society and the PR Seminar, and am involved with the CMO Leadership Circle. I serve on the Board of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the American Bird Conservancy. I am also a member of the International Women’s Forum.

What are the things you are most proud of?

Over the course of my career, I am most proud of having honored my personal values and priorities in the midst of the agency world which is competitive, demanding and unrelenting. I never lost sight of what was important in life, and that helped me navigate the many pressures that came from enjoying my professional responsibilities while simultaneously balancing my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

Who were your personal role models?

There have been many people from whom I’ve learned important lessons and skills. However, I consider one person to be my true role model — John D. Graham, Chairman of FleishmanHillard. John was instrumental throughout my tenure at FH, and even today I draw on his lessons and advice to guide my leadership and management decisions.

What advice did he give you that helped you in your career?

John taught me the power of collaboration and teamwork and he showed me how to create it within my own teams. He taught me how to manage a large organization based on shared values and culture and also how to hold people accountable for high performance.

What professional advice do you have for others?

My advice is two-part: work hard consistently and know that being an outstanding professional isn’t about being perfect but rather is about always learning, correcting mistakes, always stepping up to a challenge and being courageous — taking on roles and responsibilities even when you think you might not be ready. As a manager, play to people’s strengths, treat people with respect, and set high expectations for performance. Make the difficult decisions fast because bad situations rarely get better over time. In addition to focusing on the most senior people in your network who can guide you, also help those on their way up the ladder; that’s when you can really make a difference in someone’s career and have an important impact.

What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire at AARP?

At AARP, people’s attire ranges from the very casual to formal business. At the Executive Team, it is decidedly formal business.

Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear to the office?

My clothes come from a wide variety of stores including Nordstrom’s, but increasingly I’ve started to shop at small, boutique women’s clothing stores. My favorite accessory is a Hermes scarf which can change any outfit from good to fabulous.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I’m not afraid of change, which is important because although change has always been a constant in life, it’s coming faster now than ever before both in how we do business as well as how we live our lives. In the communications and marketing industry you can’t rest on past ways of doing business. Everyday there’s something new to learn, and it requires a constant state of intellectual curiosity and a willingness to take risks by trying new things.

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