In Good Company
In the third installment of Splice’s four-part podcast series, MM+M editor-in-chief Steve Madden chatted with Andrew Miller, director of innovation and Mike Kelly, associate director of user experience at Splice, about what brought them to (and is keeping them at) the agency and what makes the company’s culture so unique. For Miller and Kelly, both questions prompted the same answer: “the people.”
“As you get older, you realize the importance of relationships in your professional career,” Kelly shared. “And at Splice, I get to work with such a phenomenal team.”
Miller echoed his sentiments, adding that the volume of talent within the agency made the decision to come on board a no-brainer, and said he feels fortunate that he’s gotten to “wear so many hats” in the role Splice created for him.
“Having this cross-functional view and being able to roll up my sleeves and contribute in a lot of different ways across the company has been incredible,” he said.
Kelly shared that spending many years in the “pharma trenches,” in addition to his work in product design and teaching UX to students, has allowed him to bring a unique perspective to his work within the agency.
“Coming back into the pharma space from my other roles, I’m able to bring a lot of lessons from the product design world,” Kelly shared, “such as user measurement, empathy, production discipline, etc.” He went on to share that his work in teaching has reminded him how essential it is to approach problems with a beginner’s mindset — namely, asking questions and making sure every angle is covered.
When prompted by Madden to share how they’ve seen the values at Splice put into action over the course of the pandemic, Kelly referenced the company’s “creativity without walls,” mantra, noting that in COVID times, it has become quite a literal reference, with leadership encouraging staffers to get out and take a walk as often as possible.
“Over the past year or so, there’s been a tendency to just be in front of a computer all the time in an almost inescapable way,” Kelly said. “To get that kind of direction, especially from the partners, to get outside, it really allows you to gain clarity and a new perspective in ways you can’t in front of a screen.”
Miller said for him, what’s been most inspiring is the company’s support of its employees, whether through financing pro bono and community support projects or offering stipends for staffers to pursue outside interests.
“There is such a pronounced focus on individual growth and professional development here,” he said. “In exchange for helping us pursue our own passion projects, we then share our adventures and our learnings with the agency, the result of which is this kind of entertaining and educational osmosis that occurs as we’re exposed to what everyone around us is doing.”
Kelly agreed, adding that leadership’s encouragement of their personal interests as well as their professional ones creates a much more balanced kind of workload.
“At a lot of other places, you’re just expected to do the work,” he said. “There’s not really an appreciation for how the work is done.”
Miller noted that their company’s recognition of employee efforts and a focus on each staffers’ mental and physical well-being played a large part in keeping employee satisfaction high throughout an extremely difficult last year.
“I hope we as a company continue to double (or even triple) down on all the things we’ve prioritized over this past year,” he said. “By integrating the learnings and findings from what has essentially been a year-long remote pilot program, we have the opportunity to set ourselves up for success as we adopt more of a hybrid model both internally and externally.”
Kelly added that the company’s constant drive to evolve its way of thinking as well as improve its methods, also contributes to a high level of employee satisfaction.
“It’s a very reflective process here,” he said. “It’s never just, ‘Oh we’ve done it that way for 100 years and we’re not going to change it,’ there is always flexibility and encouragement for anyone on staff to share ideas that may improve things. I really think this notion of paying attention to the present is what will inevitably lead to a successful future.”