Vanessa Arnone is one of Thinkso’s senior project managers. Before joining our team, she led digital communications for Grammy-award winning artist Alicia Keys, and has been an account director for two digital marketing agencies. At Thinkso, Vanessa combines her digital and project management expertise to deliver excellence across channels for every client she works with.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I like to say I’m from a number of places. I was born in New York City, and lived in Jackson Heights, Queens until I was 2, and then Bayside, Queens, until I was 20. I also spent a great deal of time in Astoria where my grandmother lived. About 10 years ago I moved to Mineola on Long Island. I dragged my feet going out to the suburbs because I didn’t want to leave Queens. But I secretly love it.
You had a whole different career before you got into marketing. Tell us about that.
Well, I started my career working in direct sales in my family’s kitchenware business. It gave me a chance to travel the world with my father and immerse myself in the Hispanic community while learning the family business. Then, after about 10 years — and with my father’s support — I was ready to do something different.
How did you come to work with Alicia Keys?
I had known Alicia for many years by way of one of my childhood best friends. Alicia got wind of my situation and asked if I would be interested in joining her team. I started at AK Worldwide as an executive assistant, but after three weeks she promoted me to project manager. I can come into a situation where there are a lot of creative people with big visions, and I can turn those ideas into reality. I know how to make things happen! And I think Alicia realized that very early on.
Eventually I established Alicia’s digital presence and brand. At the time, social media wasn’t seen as a business channel yet, and Alicia’s posts were limited to just Facebook and Twitter. I saw a void, and took the initiative to fill that by creating her digital department. I worked very closely with Alicia, her management, and her PR team to help launch her online presence. It was very important to Alicia to maintain a direct line of communication with her audience that was 100% authentically her, while also engaging on each platform in the best way for that audience. If she was releasing an album, we looked at how we could best engage with the audience both online and off, holistically. In my last year with her, we grew her digital audience by 5 million followers, and increased her audience engagement by 220%. It was hard work and I am very proud of that accomplishment!
What’s a memorable moment from your time with Alicia Keys?
There were so many memorable moments from the seven years I worked for Alicia. Alicia is phenomenal, and she’s a real human on a real journey like the rest of us, who also happens to be a brilliant artist. It was such a creative environment, and sometimes it could be surreal. After Hurricane Sandy, Alicia performed at a benefit concert called 12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief. There were incredible artists everywhere I looked! I bumped shoulders — literally — with the Rolling Stones as we ran her to the stage. And then at the end of the show, this incredible artist, who also happens to be my boss, closes the show singing New York State of Mind with Billy Joel, while all of Madison Square Garden sang along in a moment of unity that really shows the power of music. It was incredible!
What drew you to Thinkso?
After working in the family business and then for Alicia, I wanted my next step to be a structured space where I could really run creative projects. I found the depth of excellence and thoughtfulness that I was looking for in a creative environment at Thinkso. It is a fun but high-achieving environment where I’m not in a box. I have the space to be myself, and also tap into my digital marketing background to help the agency grow in areas like SEO and paid social.
What’s your approach to working with clients?
I really enjoy building human connections and building a rapport. I want clients to see me as a person who’s pleasant to deal with, but who will also get the work done and has a firm grasp on their business and goals. Ultimately they should see me as a partner — and their representative in the Thinkso studio.
Tell us about your life outside of the office.
Crazy! I have an awesome husband who is my best friend and partner in crime, and two phenomenal kids; a 12-year-old daughter who is a phenomenal softball player (catcher) and superwoman in the making, and my 7-year-old son who is a speed demon on the athletic field but mostly my Prince Charming. I’m part of an incredibly tight-knit extended family I can’t say enough about — everything outside of the office for me is about, fun, food, and drinks with all of them. We’ve been told we need our own television show. We’re loud and we’re proud!