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This week, 352 hosted Melissa Proctor, CMO at Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, as well as new author of From Ball Girl to CMO. Below is a brief recap of the Off the Record conversation, which was moderated by Sara Saxner, VP of Strategic Growth at 352:

Getting Creative for the Community

All industries have had to make massive shifts amidst the pandemic, especially sports and entertainment. “I feel like I have to use a ton of creativity in how I approach things. As you can see with our brand, our team might not be excelling on the court, but we’re excelling in the community,” said Melissa.

We were delighted to hear Melissa talk about how the owners of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena view themselves “as a community asset above everything else.” Melissa shared how her and her team focused immediately on how they could help those within the Atlanta community by partnering with Emory Healthcare and Goodr. 

Melissa also shared with us how State Farm Arena will be transformed to support early voting on October 12. Every employee is receiving voting booth training during this critical election period.

Melissa’s 5 Guiding Principles

Candidly, Melissa shared that she was never one of those professionals who knew her ideal career path at an early age, but views herself as an “agency of one,” always looking to expand on her capabilities. She shared the importance of anchoring herself and her choices by relying on 5 guiding principles:


1. Being creative and strategic.

2. Adding new tools to her personal toolbox.

3. Paying her bills on time or ahead of time to achieve financial independence.

4. Bringing her entire self to work every day and not deviating from who she is.

5. Having work/life harmony, so she has the flexibility for her daughter.


Over time, Melissa has come to learn the importance of being true to herself, including in the workplace.

Don’t deviate from who you are to fit in with others just to do your job. Being myself is more than enough.

Be an Asset, not a Liability

Melissa shared that she understood the value of networking very early on in her career, but some people overlook the importance of building relationships when networking. She shared examples of people who set up 30 minute coffees with others simply so they can then ask them for help getting a job. 

Alternatively, Melissa shared a story about how she took the time to understand an executive at AT&T’s pain points, went home and came back with originally designed solutions for her, which was the starting point of one of her most valuable professional relationships. Our conversation ended with some inspiring words from Melissa, “Pay it forward. Make it awesome. Live it up every day.”

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352 is an innovation and growth firm. Leading companies hire us to find billion-dollar opportunities, build killer new products and create hockey-stick growth. We bring grit and new-fashioned thinking to innovation, digital development and growth marketing.