After fifteen years with Sylvan Learning, Amy Przywara rose through the ranks and was named CMO in June of 2015.
She began her career with the company as the director of co-op advertising, traveling around the country to help guide local planning initiatives. During her tenure, Przywara has served in a number of advertising and marketing roles for Sylvan Learning, including the director of national advertising and senior marketing director of advertising and promotions.
“I love this brand because we help kids and families value education and support them with a variety of programs that fit their needs,” says Przywara, “We do everything from after school tutoring to teaching a child to read to STEM classes and camps to College Prep to helping a teen write their college essay.”
Przywara says that being a mom to three school-age children puts her squarely in the target audience for her brand.
“I love talking with my mom friends and gaining insights into the business by living the experience every day.”
As CMO, Przywara works with the Sylvan Learning’s franchisees, overseeing all of the paid search campaigns, email marketing, social efforts, and PR efforts to promote the brand on a local level.
“My team helps franchisees with everything they need from customer research to SEM to copywriting to local marketing toolkits. We are small but mighty for the volume of work that we make happen on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.”
Currently, Przywara says her team is working on a new value proposition to showcase what Sylvan can do for every child.
“Many consumers have a misconception about Sylvan; they think that Sylvan is only for reading, or only for children who have fallen behind in school, or that we are too expensive.”
Przywara says the new initiative aims to let families know that Sylvan supports thousands and thousands of students who may simply need an hour of tutoring week, or even SAT preparation.
“Consumers just don’t know this. We will be rolling this out in September, and our goals are to increase the number of families who think Sylvan is for them.”
- Age: 43
- HQ: Hunt Valley, Maryland
- First Job: Cashier & customer service at Toys “R” Us
- Apple or Android? Apple
- First Car: Pontiac Sunfire
- Hobbies: I have three kids!
What was the first thing you checked on your phone today?
Work email (how boring).
Which apps do you use most often for work?
What was the last thing you shared on one of your social networks?
I recently worked the PTA convention in Las Vegas. The PTA is a great partner and I love meeting with the volunteers and staff who work on behalf of our kids every day.
We were out sharing how Sylvan can help them with their needs – from after school programs to fund raising ideas.
What’s the first thing you tackle when you get to the office?
Catching up on email, and making sure everyone on my team has what they need from me to be effective that day.
Take me through your typical work day.
We always have a ton of projects going on. A typical day doesn’t exist, but we do meet as a team, brainstorm through ideas, work through issues, make decisions, and go to the next meeting.
I am in meetings a lot. My office is always open for others to use it, but we try to make those meetings action oriented and productive. We don’t meet for meetings sake, but as a way to keep everything moving.
How much of your work-time is actually completed in your office?
In the Sylvan corporate office, it is about 70 percent. In my office, it is less than 10 percent.
Do you have a sentimental item that you keep on your desk or in your office? What’s the story behind it?
I have a decorative heart that the former VP of Education, Dr. Rick Bavaria, gave me. It was when he went from a full-time role to being a blog contributor.
It says “Life is a Balancing Act,” and with twins who are seven, and a daughter turning nine this fall, that could never be more true.
He left it for me when he left the office on his last full-time day, but I had no idea where it came from. About three-hours later, it hit me. I loved the message, and the thought he had to give it to me. He knew the stage of life I was entering at that moment.
Where is the best place you’ve gotten to travel for work?
In 2006, we shot Sylvan’s TV commercials in Chile and I got to spend a week filming and enjoying the country.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
Growth! I’m tasked to figure out how we get more growth for every center. With various needs across the country, how do I use my resources most effectively for the most people to benefit?
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
There was one TV commercial that we shot a few years ago, positioning a deal as the “hero.” We had never done anything like that before, and I thought that it could have been really good, but it just wasn’t funny enough.
I still can’t pin point exactly where it went wrong, but I knew it simply wasn’t getting the message across in the right way.
What has been the most pleasantly surprising thing that’s happened to you in the past year?
Honestly, watching my kids grow into responsible little people. It’s amazing how much growth happens in one year with kids.
What marketing leader do you most admire?
Reshma Saujani is the Founder of Girls Who Code. I love her mission and what’s she’s doing.
I was captivated with her TED talk in February 2016. She had such great insights including the theme “We’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.” As a mom of three, with two of them girls, and a CMO that is targeting moms to invest in their children’s education, her work really resonates with me.
Sylvan is trying to reach kids at a young age to be interested in STEM, too, so I find her motivational and inspiring. She’s also taken chances and re-imagined where she wanted to go professionally, which is amazing.
How do you de-stress or clear your head when you’re away from work?
I read, a good book is an amazing escape. It can help me escape from everything!
What’s the last thing you read that impacted how you think about marketing?
A Harvard Business Review article about “Kick Ass Customer Service.”
It made me realize as more and more gets automated, who the people are that you need interfacing with your customers.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I’m such an open book, and I’m close to my team. What they do know – but, it still surprises them every day – is how good of a memory I have. It drives them crazy, but they also know it helps us achieve more every week.
Why did you go into marketing?
I love the idea of being creative, but by using numbers and analysis to drive creative solutions.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A writer, and a dancer. My dream was to basically be a poor starving artist in New York City.
What was your best work dinner ever?
Las Brisas in Laguna Beach, California – Mexican and seafood and the views! We had guacamole, octopus and a seafood tower. It’s the kind of place where you feel lucky.
It was after a new business pitch when I was at Doner Advertising Agency, dining with agency folks, friends and acquaintances.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign caught your eye recently?
The GE appliance ads. They are obviously targeting me at my stage of life, and using my kind of humor.
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Author: Amy Gesenhues
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