Upward Move: Christine Armstrong
Managing director, brand experience, Giant Creative/Strategy
“The walls are coming down across all verticals,” says Christine Armstrong, newly appointed managing director of brand experience at Giant. “It's not that we won't have experts in creative, copy, technology and accounts—but you have to be able to transcend that. You need to have leadership that can sit on top of these channels that didn't used to integrate so intimately.”
As the distinction between verticals fades, Armstrong believes her new role—managing brand experience—will let her be more agile in how she serves clients. “I went back and forth on my title. I did not want anything like ‘digital director.' The adjective digital loses more meaning every day. It's really about how we choreograph multiple touchpoints across these channels,” Armstrong explains. “Brand experience really speaks to customer engagement.”
The dance across disparate channels is an area Armstrong believes plays to her strengths—with a self-described past in “designing data.”
“I feel very ‘home-schooled' in the agency world,” she says, laughing, “I started my career as a medical illustrator at Sloan Kettering standing over the shoulder of surgeons for hundreds of thousands of surgeries.” That work as an illustrator would eventually extend to Columbia Presbyterian and Kaplan Medical. Then in June of 2004, she would find her way to agency IOMEDIA.
“Medical illustration was an epiphany for me,” Armstrong says. “I always loved science and art, but no one told me you could do both.”
That decision, she adds, helped her realize that you should “never turn down an opportunity that might not feel like it fits. You need to learn to leverage what you know and transfer those skills into intangibles—like taking illustration and turning it into storytelling.”“There's always ways to combine your passions,” she offers, “and when you're work starts with passion, that momentum gives you an advantage.”