Inside DigitasLBi XD: Amy Lachapelle Associate Director, Content Strategy

Inside DigitasLBi XD is an interview series of the Boston XD team’s “Unicorn of the Month.”

Amy LaChapelle

Where are you from?

I was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Illinois, and went to college in Ohio.

What was your first job?

First job ever, or first job as an adult? I’ll tell you both.

My first job ever was as a candy taster at a candy factory. I am not making this up. There was a candy factory in town when we first moved to Illinois, and kids could sign up to participate in market research and product testing. The few times I went in, I did a lot of taste tests. “Try both types of gum and tell us which you like best, and why” — that kind of stuff. Compensation was a huge bag of candy.

My first job as an adult was as an Editorial Assistant at Houghton Mifflin Company. I was in the College Division, supporting the team that created books and online materials for college-level Business, Accounting, and Economics courses. I did all sorts of things as an EA — seeded market reviews, assisted with P&Ls, coordinated office moves…if it was an entry-level task, I probably did it.

Did you always want to be a content strategist? If not, what paths did you take to get here?

No! In all honesty, I was quite ignorant to what content strategy was until early 2016. In learning of the practice, however, I realized that I’d been practicing content strategy for years without even knowing it. My work with metadata, content management systems, content creation and organization, evolving site needs and competing priorities all made this transition to content strategy feel quite natural.

What led you to Digitas?

I led a Content Operations team at Pearson Education prior to Digitas — specifically for two online platforms that we called “book build sites” as a shortcut explanation. My team handled a lot of different things, but at high level we were responsible for proper file preparation, metadata creation, and online publishing. I was in need of both a career change as well as an industry change, so I started searching around for roles that included content management and metadata creation — two areas I really enjoy and thought would be easily transferable. One day a Digitas Content Strategy position showed up in an online job search, and the more I learned the more excited I was to make a move and work here.

What do you like about working at an agency?

The variety of work is great; I never have the same day twice, and I get to utilize different parts of my brain. I also really enjoy the culture — laid back while hard working, considerate, and very social. I’ve been here 10 months but it feels like a couple years, in a good way.

And last but not least, I really, really love my department. The people are smart, kind, extremely talented, and incredibly witty. We are grouped together by common themes and skills, but it’s the variety of backgrounds and skill sets that really fascinates me. Each person brings a unique and valuable perspective to the table. And no one competes; we just work really well together, and as a result we do really good work.

What types of projects do you find inspiring?

Projects where I see what is possible but not yet created. I love to execute, and let me pat myself on the back while I say that I’m very good at execution. But the strategy, the creation of an idea that you then start to see how it would execute and the impact it would have — that’s the sweet spot for me.

What are your career goals? What are you hoping for?

Run it — whether that’s a project, a department, a company, the country…leadership has always been a pretty natural part of my personality. I’m hoping to have a revolutionary impact at some point in my career. I don’t know in what way or how, but I do know that I’ll know it when it lands.

Favorite sites for inspiration?

Netflix. Close to impeccable content organization (I have found some misqueues — don’t worry, they heard from me), trailblazing work in dynamic content delivery and personalization, not to mention their moves to go global and create and serve up localized content. I highly recommend their blog — they’re pretty open about sharing how they work behind the scenes, which I find to be fascinating and very informative.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love yoga and aim to attend classes a few times a week. I have, after a 5-year hiatus, picked up my love for reading again and am absorbing novels at such a rapid rate, you’d think I was making up for lost time. In the winter I like to ski, even though I complain about the cold and crummy conditions almost the entire season. But above all, if I find myself in a situation with wine, good people, and a good laugh, I’m pretty content.

If your career had taken a different path, what would you be doing?

Probably teaching English Literature or playing in a second- or third-tier symphony. Maybe politics.

Where would you like to go that you haven’t been to yet?

Everywhere. I want to go everywhere I’ve never been — I really mean it. There’s nothing better than your first day in a new country, waking up and knowing that the day you’re about to have is going to be different from any other day you’ve had in your life.

What’s your superpower?

I can see the big picture and dive into the details almost simultaneously.

The views expressed in this post are that of the authors and may not reflect the views of the agency or company.