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Meet Michelle Mariola of ISH-Productions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Mariola.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Michelle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I moved to Chicago to begin my career after graduating with a degree in Graphic Design. My first job was with a small graphic design company in a suburb of Chicago, called Skokie where I designed everything from annual reports for Motorola to brochures for North American Bear Company to package design for VTech to illustrations for Scott Foresman books.

From there, I took a job at a direct marketing agency. As I reflect back, this was one of three pinnacle shifts in my career. At the time, direct marketing was at the forefront and growing exponentially. It was at this point that I made the shift to marketing with a strong tie to my graphic design roots but more so from a creative direction standpoint.

I spent the next 12+ years working in direct marketing at several companies that ranged in verticals from pharmaceutical to financial services to publishing to insurance.

The second shift in my career was when I joined a large interior landscaping company, Initial Tropical Plants, initially as the Director of Marketing for North America and then promoted to Vice President to lead the international marketing and rebranding of the company to ‘Ambius’ across 14 countries. In fact, we won first place for Best Rebranding Exercise by CorpComms in the UK. Over my 9 years with Ambius I developed a real passion for branding in all its forms; corporate, personal, employer and product branding. The third shift in my career happened four years ago when I took the leap and started my own consulting company, ISH-Productions, Inc, where I advise emerging to mid-market companies on marketing, branding, building high performing cultures, leadership coaching, and communications.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I look at a career as a voyage rather than a path. A career “path” indicates a clearly defined set of achievements to move up the ladder. The analogy of a “path” suggests that one’s career is visible, stable and predictable. Conversely a career “voyage” there is some degree of control, but there is also a degree of happenstance. Happenstance would be the wind changing direction or moving water currents. It is how you react and pivot to changing directions that will provide you with the momentum to continue your voyage. My career has been a voyage for which I am eternally grateful. With each employment, I have gained more knowledge and insight that has helped me persevere even during some of the most challenging times. I don’t believe I would have been able to start my own company without having experienced twists and turns along the way.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
In short, my company, ISH-Productions, Inc, partners with growth to mid-market companies in professional services, manufacturing, construction, education, fintech, and mortgage industries to offer a fresh perspective backed by more than 20 years’ experience, to help build brands, redefine messaging or devise a marketing strategy.

Partner with C-Suite executives and management teams to define business goals and create integrated marketing strategies to increase revenue, support growth and enable positive change.

Serve as a hands-on advisor setting the marketing agenda and building the transformational programs necessary to scale. Whether creating or reinventing a brand, entering a new market, launching new products/services, integrating new acquisitions, enabling sales or transforming the marketing department – I work side by side with clients to provide short- and long-term strategies to reach marketing objectives, ensuring targets are met.

What were you like growing up?
I was the kid that sat quietly and observed — a lot. Although I had natural leadership tendencies, being an introvert, it was difficult to demonstrate it. I was very socially aware before I even knew that was a thing. I was very fortunate to have many experiences traveling to Europe much of my childhood and learning about different cultures. This helped me to see the world differently. And while at the time I didn’t fully appreciate it, I learned as I got older what an unbelievable experience it was. My teenage years were wrought with trying to figure out my purpose and voice. It wasn’t until my Junior year that I realized my creative abilities which helped guide me to use those talents in several ways. Equally as important though was the realization of my deep appreciation for all forms of art and what it takes to be successful.

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