Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: Dawn Zier
Zier earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and electrical engineering from SUNY Stony Brook and a master's degree in electrical engineering from MIT. After graduating from MIT, she spent a year working for AT&T.
Then she went back to school to earn an MBA from MIT. She's remained in marketing now for 25 years—first in credit card marketing at Chase Manhattan Corporation, which became known as JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Zier's early career change is the reason she counsels the young professionals she mentors to be willing to adapt. But different paths aren't a waste. For Zier, a puzzle-solving background has helped her overcome some of her largest professional challenges and, in Zier's case, to embrace them as opportunities.
"In 2000, when I was vice president of circulation marketing at Reader's Digest … my team won the first ever Chairman's Award, for doing what we called 10 years of testing in 10 months and stabilizing circulation for the magazine," Zier says. "It's my best memory, because, one, it was a take-no-prisoners moment. We had to succeed or die. And when faced with those outcomes, it's amazing what a team can do. It's amazing how that motivates you to act outside of the box.
"Two," she continues, "the reason why it's one of my best memories is because the team won a five-day, all-expenses-paid trip to Necker Island, which is the island owned by Richard Branson, and is the most extravagant and amazing place that I've ever gone to."
That's when her boss, former President of Worldwide Circulation John Klingel, told the Reader's Digest CEO he'd found the next direct marketing genius.
"I told him that I had found another Jan Brandt," Klingel says.
Brandt, then the America Online CMO, was Target Marketing's 2001 Direct Marketer of the Year, whom Klingel had also trained in circulation marketing.