Neil Hirsch currently works as Global External Communications Manager for Novelis Inc.
What was your major and when did you graduate?
My major was Public Relations and graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in May 2000.
What activities were you involved while in Grady/UGA?
I was very active in PRSSA, serving as an officer for several years. I also was one of three student coordinators for PR Day in 2000. I was active in several community service groups on campus, participated in Leadership UGA and worked at the UGA Visitors Center for three years as a tour guide.
What are you doing now and how did you get there?
Since graduating from Grady, I have spent my entire career in the Atlanta area. I started out in a small PR agency, but spent the last 12 years of my career in various corporate communications roles. I have invested heavily in building relationships with my peers in the profession and each progressive move in my career can be traced back to that network in some way. I’m a big believer that who you know may help open doors and what you know will get you the job.
In the case of my current role, I previously worked for someone who the hiring manager also knew and respected. That personal recommendation moved me to the top of the consideration list, but it was my experience that ultimately got me the job.
What is your day-to-day like at your job? (Any interesting projects that you can share with us?)
I work at our global headquarters in Buckhead. No day is the same. Today I will work on the final preparations for our earnings announcement next week; handle any media inquiries we might receive; prepare a presentation for our CEO; manage our social media channels; work on a crisis communications workshop we are developing and review a blog post one of our executives has prepared. I love the variety and the global nature of my role.
What part of your Grady experience (classes, professors, etc.) has been helpful in your career today?
My time at Grady served as a strong foundation for my career. Grady was where I found my home at UGA. My first two years at UGA, in many ways, I felt like just a number in many of my large lecture courses. That changed when I began my major coursework. I forged strong, meaningful relationships with many of my professors. I’m friends of Facebook with several of them and just saw Dr. Sallot yesterday. Even 13 years after graduating, I still value their counsel and appreciate their interest in my life. I also forged what would become some lifelong friends among my peers at Grady. I’ve been to their weddings, seen them become parents and shared in their career successes along the way. Finally, my PRSSA participation was a springboard for my career. That’s where I was exposed to leaders of PRSA who became important mentors to me and led me down the path of service to our profession. I’m excited to be serving as the president of the Georgia Chapter of PRSA next year – we’re the second-largest chapter in the nation with 800+ members. I can trace that achievement back to my days at Grady.
What is your favorite Grady memory?
The year I helped to coordinate PR Day, our keynote speaker was a communications director from General Motors. For someone who always loved cars, it seemed like the perfect job for a PR professional. It gave me a vision for what I wanted to do in my career – combining my professional skill set with a personal passion. By 2002, I was working as a communications specialist at Ford Motor Company in Atlanta and it was a great experience.
What advice do you have for current AdPR students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities around you – both inside and outside the classroom. Entering the workforce gets more competitive each year, so it’s important to do all you can today to prepare for tomorrow. Whether that’s being an active member in professional groups at Grady, attending guest lectures, volunteering for organizations to lead communications efforts, interning while you take classes or building relationships with professionals you meet, there are so many great ways to further enrich your Grady experience. It’s up to you to make it happen.