Scholastic’s Top Marketer Is Driven To “Open A World Of Possible” For Children Everywhere
Get To Know: Dani Nadel, Chief Marketing Officer for Scholastic Reading Club and eCommerce
Since 2011, Dani Nadel has served as the Chief Marketing Officer for Scholastic Reading Club and eCommerce, charged with building the brand’s marketing plan and merchandising strategy.
Most recently, Nadel spearheaded the reconceptualization of Scholastic’s digital footprint, a project that will begin rolling out in spring of 2016 and affects everything from the company’s website and stores to its overall marketing strategy.
“It is truly a transformational initiative,” said Nadel. “Our goals are to make it easier for our customer audiences to connect with us, and to drive greater relevance and value for them at every touch point.”
Prior to Scholastic, Nadel was President of Publicis Modem, a full-service digital agency based in New York City that focused on digital marketing, platform development, SEM, social and mobile strategies. Nadel worked with many well-known brands, including Hasbro, General Mills and PayPal.
After receiving a Bachelor of Science in from Washington University’s Olin School of Business, Nadel earned an MBA from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. She currently resides in New York City.
What mobile device can you not live without?
My iphone 6+. It is literally connected to me 24/7. It has replaced every other device for me.
Can we take a peek at your phone’s homescreen?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
Text messaging is really the tool I use most frequently to communicate everything — schedules, urgent requests, quick updates, alerts, etc. I even text colleagues to let them know they need to check an email I just sent them!
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
Time is a scarce commodity in my life, so I try to get the basics taken care of through the internet and my apps — food, banking, supplies, updates and shopping.
I tend to order in most weeknights, so I am a power user of Seamless. On weekends, I spend time on the New York Times cooking app for recipes and videos and catch up on Facebook and Pinterest. And, I do indulge in the regular check-in of my favorite flash sale sites such as Gilt, Jetsetter and Lot18, as I love a good value — it just gets my adrenaline going!
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
I immediately boot up to see if there are any text messages from my kids and check the weather. Then I turn to the New York Post for local headlines, which I counter-balance by reading the Times on my way to work.
Take me through your typical workday.
- I hop on the subway around 8:00 a.m. and arrive to my office around 8:30/8:45 a.m.
- The first thing I do is get an iced coffee and then sit down to catch up with emails.
- By 9:15, the day of meetings begins. Let me add a caveat on this by saying we are a team-oriented culture and much of our work gets done collaboratively in meetings. A typical workday would consist of:
- Meeting with my direct reports to review our division’s status and discuss results and upcoming needs.
- Working session with one of our agency partners to review marketing plans and assets or site designs.
- Cross-functional team meeting on marketing plans or content needs.
- Prioritization efforts for store merchandising opportunities.
- Meeting with our technology team to review the business and technical roadmap.
- Financial updates and budget planning
- I generally leave the office around 6:00 p.m. and try to get a workout in, either at my gym or at Soul Cycle.
- Then, I wind down with my husband at dinner with a nice glass of wine.
What does your office look like, any sentimental items you can share?
There are a few very important ones. The first is a series of pictures of my children from when they were in elementary school through now in college. It’s mind-boggling how much I miss them!
A three-foot tall Clifford the Big Red Dog® I have situated in the corner of my office is another. Clifford is something of a Scholastic “mascot.” He was one of my favorite characters as a child, and one of my family’s favorites. We must have had every title in our home library and read them until the pages were frayed.
Around my office are reminders of why I work here and the importance of what we do day-in, day-out to “open a world of possible” for children everywhere through reading and learning — notes from teachers and students thanking us for reading to their class or the books we provide, copies of my favorite children’s books and characters that still make me smile.
Helping children learn and love to read — that’s at the heart of Scholastic’s mission.
What has been your most exciting work development in the past year?
Working across all of our closely aligned businesses to re-imagine our digital channels as the go-to source for schools and families to support children’s reading and learning.
Scholastic is uniquely able to provide literacy solutions for school and home — whether books for independent reading from reading clubs and fairs or instructional programs, classroom magazines, or professional development or family engagement initiatives through schools — all in support of children’s reading and learning.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
I have flown over 50,000 miles during the past 12 months. An interesting work trip that stands out was a trip to New Orleans. It was for an industry conference called the ILA, International Literacy Association, where thousands of educators gather to learn about new practices and resources that support the important work they do for our students, and to network with other educators.
The ability to interact with so many educators in a concentrated period of time is priceless; and New Orleans is just such a special place to visit — the food, the spirit of the people.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
For me it is the rate of change of technology and information. What will be the next big platform or tool, and how we can connect with our customers through it? How can we be more agile, flexible and adept at using all the data we collect to draw actionable insights quickly? How do we deliver more value to our customers? And how do we find and retain top talent?
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
I have been so fortunate over the years to work with many incredible mentors and managers.
Since joining Scholastic over four years ago, I have had the pleasure of working closely with our CEO, Dick Robinson. His passion for supporting teachers and helping students learn and love to read is palpable and he infuses that passion into everyone in the company.
He is an incredible leader who has provided me invaluable guidance, support and inspiration.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
Team-builder and leader, who is accountable, humble, entrepreneurial, empowering, bottom-line driven, and most importantly has a deep focus on the customer.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I would ordinarily say that I am a die-hard New York Rangers fan, and can’t go a day without chocolate — but they really do know that!
Why did you go into marketing?
I was an undergraduate business student at Washington University in St. Louis and had a team assignment to create a plan to launch a new product for AT&T. It was my first taste of the power of research, insights and working with a team to create a thoughtful and ROI-driven plan.
I still remember the fear and thrill of presenting our approach! After graduating, I worked at Young & Rubicam and experienced the pulse of advertising and marketing firsthand.
The combination of strategy, analytics, technology and creativity — I just knew that was what I needed to do for my career.
What other career would you like to try?
My dream is to eventually own a vineyard! What a great way to combine my passion for wine and food, and extend that joy to others.
What’s the last business book you read, and what did you think of it?
Losing the Signal by journalists Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff — This is the story of how RIM revolutionized an industry and built an empire, but lost it to the hands of Apple and Google by 2010.
I found the book to be an entertaining and engrossing cautionary tale of a tech giant who was unable to evolve quickly enough, not recognizing the future as it was presented to them. It reinforced the need to manage growth, embrace change, while never losing the spirit of evolution and innovation.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
Hefty has been doing some great work. I thought their “Cool Moms” campaign was hilarious.
I first saw these videos this summer and was stopped in my tracks. Relatable moms break into Millennial/Gen-Y slang, talking about their evenings — and the Hefty’s Red Cups fit right in.
Their #SaidNoSchoolEver brings humor to showcase real problems with education today and the support Hefty provides.