Women Behind the Brands: A Guy's Girl - Pamela Kaupinen
Name: Pamela Kaupinen
Occupation: Senior Marketing Director of GQ
Hometown: Alexandria, Virginia
Education: The Ohio State University
Roaming the Halls of GQ is Pamela. She is the woman behind the beloved, coveted, and highly successful program known as GQ Insider. GQ Insider is an online community of readers, bloggers, influencers, and menswear enthusiasts that help GQ and its advertisers with consumer market research and marketing campaigns.
Since it's launch in January 2013, Pamela and her team have devoted their efforts into bringing like minded individuals with similar interests together to build this community.
Always smiling and welcoming, perhaps one the kindest persons you'll ever have the pleasure to meet, Pam excitedly agreed to answer a few questions I know we've all been dying to know about her and GQ. With these questions, you're about to get a glimpse inside the life of GQ's girl.
“I wasn’t really looking, GQ came to me. I think there’s something so incredible about GQ.”
Let's start from the beginning, how did you become the Senior Marketing Director of GQ?
When I was in college, my brother was living in NYC. He said to me "I've got a friend that works at Marie Claire, which is a part of Hearst, and they're hiring interns. Do you want to come hang with me for the summer and be an intern?" I said yes, sure! I got the internship, and I moved to NY for the summer.
I was the only one of my friends moving to NYC for the summer; it was really cool. I got to know some people at Marie Claire, and I kept in touch.
When I graduated from College, I had gotten a little taste of NY; I was ready to come back. I reached out to the contacts I made at Marie Claire, and some moved around, you know how industry goes. They connected me with human resources at Condé Nast, and I got my first full-time job at Allure as a Sales Assistant. I was there for 4 years during which I moved to marketing and eventually corporate, where I stayed for 2 1/2 years.
GQ called. It was intriguing because all I had done was women and beauty, so I thought it would be really cool. They asked me to take GQ Insider and make it something cool - that was 3 years ago. Since then, I've been promoted twice, and I now run a small department including 2 young women and myself.
How was your first job at Allure?
I loved it, it was a great place to start. As a Sales Assistant at Allure, you really get your hands dirty, and touch different pieces of the business.
Apart from Marie Claire, did you ever intern anywhere else?
Not really. Marie Claire was my one big internship. I always worked throughout high school and college, my parents instilled a work ethic in all of us. MC was my entry point, and there I started to learn the tools needed to act in a professional environment and make it in the industry.
“Little known fact: 30% of our audience is female.”
Fast-forward to now, what's a day in the life of Pam?
Every day is different; it's great. Strategy and design are involved in every day. I work in In Design, I correspond with Insiders, I'm constantly on Instagram, and I work very closely with the GQ Management and Sales teams as well as my Marketing Manager and Marketing Coordinator.
We're so lucky here at GQ because there's so much camaraderie. On Friday I say goodbye to everyone, and by the time Monday rolls around, I'm ready to see everyone again - it's really unique. Everyone is awesome, and I think that's due in part to all of the prowess to be in GQ. It's very important that you're not only smart, strategic and hardworking, but you have to fit in. We all get along really well.
How do you relax from an intense week of work? What do you like to do for fun?
Gosh, so many ways! Sleeping, eating, drinking, and exercising. I do a lot of spinning, and I'm currently training for a triathlon.
I love to travel. Earlier this year, I went to India with my boyfriend, and it was phenomenal. I recommend it to anyone who loves culture, shopping, and meeting different people. I'm also a foodie - I love Mexican, fresh fish.
Of all the magazines published by Condé Nast, why did you choose GQ?
I wasn't really looking, GQ came to me. I think there's something so incredible about GQ. It's GQ, it's been around for 58 years, and it's synonymous with fashion and style. You can go anywhere in the world, and everyone knows what it is. It resonates from Russia, to China, to NYC, to South Georgia - that's mind-blowing! Although I don't wear men's fashion, I've become an avid reader and not because I have to, but because I want to. I think the men's space is more interesting.
“I have so much admiration for every single GQ Insider. ”
What's your favorite part working in GQ?
Working with the Insiders. There are about 75 to 100 Insiders I feel like I really know and have developed a relationship with. Last year, we had 32 different activations with Insiders. It's great; everybody loves it. We talk about it every day, GQ Insider is a part of the GQ vernacular.
How do you enjoy working with GQ Insiders?
It's amazing! I have so much admiration for every single GQ Insider. Every Insider has been handpicked, it's not something for everybody. If you're not a genuine person who produces quality content, and who's invested in GQ and your own brand, we're not going to cultivate a relationship with you.
Did you know that you're one of the most sought after women in the menswear blogosphere?
No... Tell me more [blushes]
People are always asking about you, wondering who you are, and trying to figure out how to get their foot in the door.
That's how I feel about all of the Insiders, I have so much respect for what you guys do. I think what's so fun about this for both sides of the equation is that there is a genuine interest in each other, and it's not calculated. Since we've started Insider, I've been very protective (it's been my baby for 2 years). I'll never bring an Insider an opportunity that doesn't benefit them organically. I want our brands, advertisers, and Insiders to take away equally from the partnerships - it's a 2-way street. I think it's really what works and that's why people maybe want to work with us, or want to know me because I'm always going to respond to an email, I'm always going to take care of you. It's part of the reason the program is so successful.
How does that make you feel?
That is the highest compliment, and receiving it from people that I admire so much is really flattering. Thank you. [laughs] Now I can go home, call my parents and tell them "I'm doing something important. People like me!”
As a woman, was it harder to break into the industry?
Not really. There is a great respect for women in this industry, and the skill set you bring comes first.
Little known fact: 30% of our audience is female! That's what's so interesting about the editorial product, it's not just for men. I can take something away from every issue whether it's for me, my boyfriend, or my dad and brothers.
Any advice for women who are trying to follow in your footsteps?
Have a genuine intention, do things the right way because it makes you feel good. Do things for mutual benefit and not for your own. Be yourself, and be confident. Never underestimate the power of networking (who you meet, who you talk to), and make a genuine connection with everyone from high to low, equally. You never know how that person is going to come back into your life, how they can help you or how you can help them.
Ask! ask for what you want, don't be shy - you just gotta go for it! Voice your opinion, say what you want, go for what you want, and don't back down.
What was one of the most defining moments of your career?
[Ponders] Honestly, today.
“Speak up and have a point of view; that is so respected in this business.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
A lot of people have been in this company for a very long time, and it's for good reason. The Condé Nast portfolio has the most powerful brands in the world; it's an amazing place.
I'm very happy where I am, and I want to continue to grow in my career at GQ. There's still room for me to move on to higher levels and take on new projects. In the near future, I definitely see myself continuing to grow my responsibility and continue to be a GQ girl - a guy's girl.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
Speak up and have a point of view; that is so respected in this business. I think I could've been more vocal and confident earlier on. I wish I had the confidence I have now when I was 25. I was timid, believe it or not. [laughs] Some people would be like "you were never timid” but I feel much more empowered today and I think it shows.
If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Passionate. (drops the mic - bye!)
I'm very intense about the things I love. If I am passionate about something, you will know, and see that I put my heart and soul into it.
This was originally published in July 2015