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Meet Sara Helmy: A Digital Marketing Entrepreneur

Posted by Brad Voeller on July 7, 2015
Sara Helmy CEO Tribu

A growth mindset and commitment to continuous learning leads to accelerated skill development - something key for digital marketers in the rapidly changing digital environment.

How do you keep up with the changing technology and set yourself apart? Meet Sara Helmy, a 26-year-old marketing strategist.

After stumbling upon marketing in college and interning with the same marketing agency every summer, Sara discovered her deep passion for entrepreneurship and continuous skill development. At age 23, Sara founded her own digital marketing and design company, Tribu, by bringing together a group of talented millennials to create successful brands. Taking calculated risks and adopting an apprenticeship mindset landed her on the San Antonio Business Journal’s 2015 list of Top 40 Under 40. 

Overview of Sara's experiences:

  • CEO and Founder of Tribu
  • VP of Correspondence of American Marketing Association
  • Operation Manager for a local agency

We asked Sara a few questions to learn about how she discovered her passion for digital marketing.

Brad: Can you give us a quick summary of Tribu?

Sara: We are a tribe full of millennials, which is nice because we grew up in this digital world and there’s a lot of learning to be had that doesn’t come natural when you haven’t grown up with it all. We are largely focused on building tribes for our partners. We like the human connection, authenticity, and transparency. We call ourselves a tribe - the people that work here. We love collaboration, teamwork, and great ideas. We’re excited and energized.

Brad: How did you get into digital marketing?

Sara: It was in college, I was actually a biomedical major. A professor of mine was like ‘hey you’re a little bit more social and outgoing than the other students in your class and I question if you love this, have you considered other avenues?’.  And I realized that I really hadn’t questioned my passion until he said that. So then I went to talk to an advisor and I was going to study economics -- then on economics we touched on marketing a little bit and I fell in love. So I decided to major in marketing.

Brad: Can you tell us a little bit about your hands-on learning, apprenticeship-type experiences?

Sara: In college I did an internship with a digital firm in San Antonio every summer. I really enjoyed it and I chose them because they were marketing, not because they were digital. Then I started to really learn the digital marketing world and I fell in love with it. Since I had interned with them I learned so much about all the different departments; I worked a little bit with everybody—with the graphic designers, the web developers, the coders, the strategy people, and the sales team. I got to touch every little area briefly. Then when I graduated college they offered me a job so I started there. That hands-on experience is probably the reason I got the job. They got to know me a little bit more and I also was a little ahead on the learning curve because I had spent my time getting to know them as well.  

 "I started to really learn the digital marketing world and I fell in love with it." 

Brad: Can you share a story of how you demonstrated one of the 5 ways of growing? (Self-determination, taking action, seeking out the master, giving more than you get, and being passionate)

Sara: Taking action. I was the intern and they were like: “What do we do with an intern?”. One of the things that I discovered nobody was doing was tracking the number of hours it took to build a website. We had the data, but we weren’t tracking it. What we learned from that experience was jobs believed to be “smaller” were actually the jobs with the most margins. Jobs that perhaps came with a bigger budget actually had a lot smaller margin because of the number of hours required for each. It definitely changed the entire firm’s pricing strategy. I spent my entire summer just comparing the hours spent. (It gives you a realistic idea of just how long everything in digital marketing takes - something you have to continuously balance out because it’s a fast paced environment.) Websites aren’t just born by the snap of a finger. Taking action and that experience in particular helped me learn a lot about running a business in general.

Brad: What are some recommendations you have for recent grads who are just beginning to launch their careers?

Sara: You have to be comfortable with risk. (Tweet this) You have to be able to mitigate risks, especially in the digital environment where everything is constantly changing and everything is new. There are lots of discoveries to be made and there are lots of things to learn. You never really truly master digital marketing. You might master email marketing or social media or a piece of it, but you never truly master all of it. A lot of it is having an understanding of the big picture and then taking risks with the strategies that you formulate to produce results. You just have to have fun with it. You have to be passionate and wherever you see an opportunity to take a calculated risk—you should go for it.

"You just have to have fun with it. You have to be passionate and wherever you see an opportunity to take a calculated risk—you should go for it." (Tweet this)

Brad: As you reflect on your journey and the path you took to becoming an experienced digital marketer, what are you grateful for?

Sara: I’m thankful I fell into digital marketing. I’m thankful for all the teamwork that happens here at Tribu. Teamwork is a huge part of digital marketing because you can’t really master all of it, so everybody has his or her own trades and you work together. It’s an up and coming field where there’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of talent that’s needed—definitely a fun place to be. The biggest thing is working on something you love, whether it’s digital marketing or something else. You’ll be excited to learn it. I really do think you have to love digital marketing because the learning never stops. (Tweet this)

Are you interested in adopting a growth-mindset and launching your career in digital marketing like Sara? Download the free eBook “Breaking Into Digital Marketing” to learn about the skills and strategies needed to succeed.

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Topics: For Recent Grads