Maura Seikaly

Clear Strategy Partners Culture Series Spotlight

When we prepare for and embark on a professional career, we can’t know the twists and turns it might take or how instances of good fortune and bad luck might cause monumental shifts in the following days. The best we can do is seek out valuable mentors and teachers and surround ourselves with good people. Ultimately, we hope to find a job that challenges us, makes us better people, and helps us enjoy life.

Clear Strategy Partners (CSP) offers its team members challenging learning opportunities, a network of supportive and reliable co-workers, strong leadership, and the chance to carve out a work-life balance that makes sense for each employee. This is made possible through trust, honesty, and an intentional communication strategy known as radical candor. As part of our ongoing Clear Strategy Partners Culture Series, here’s a look at life at CSP through the eyes of one our Senior Account Managers, Maura Seikaly.

Testing the Waters

While interning for an event planning company in New York City as a college senior, Maura Seikaly realized she might be onto something. She treated the opportunity as a serious educational experience and a time to figure out her trajectory into a professional career. In a short time, she learned two valuable things about herself that influenced the next steps in her career: “In only two months, I realized that I did not want to work crazy, unstructured hours – that I needed a set schedule. It also became apparent that I was a creative thinker who could help others bring projects to life. After that, learning to become a project manager just made sense to me.”

After graduating from Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA, Maura took her first job in London, England. She honed her skills at the consumer PR firm and developed an appreciation for working with clients who endeavored to make the world a better place through a good cause over those with a product to sell. While she fell in love with London and became accustomed to the cultural and social amenities of big city life, her work visa was expiring. She made plans to return to the U.S. and pursue another role.

Maura settled in Washington, D.C., which offered vast career opportunities along with exciting social and leisure activities with closer proximity to her family. She took a job with a DC-based communications firm with the hopes of expanding her skill set and refining her blossoming PR abilities.

After about 11 months, however, a wind of change came through the company, and Maura needed to transition into a new role. She quickly found CSP and began full-time remote work.

CSP's Organizational Culture

Maura immediately settled into her new role at CSP and found her unique stride. This is partly because she sees the company culture, leadership, job expectations, and benefits at CSP to suit her needs.

From the start, she enjoyed working with both CSP’s clients and her fellow teammates. She pointed out how rare this combination is in her experience: “I’ve worked for a lot of agencies where you get one or the other, but not both. At CSP, the firm is certainly people-first. Everyone is transparent and understanding of the unpredictable nature of life and what we all have going on outside of work.”

Moreover, Maura points out three salient characteristics of company culture and interpersonal communications at CSP that stand out to her: transparency and radical candor. Both of which, in her opinion, have a significant impact of the day-to-day at the firm and help keep things moving forward.

Regarding transparency, Maura noted how important this is to her, especially working in a fully remote position: “It is very clear what is expected of us. In turn, we are clear of our objectives with our clients. This limits misunderstandings and sets everyone up for success.”

Team members at CSP practice radical candor, or speaking the truth and having those difficult conversations. Most importantly, this spirit of communication comes from a place of genuine care for your co-worker. In Maura’s experience, this level and type of honesty helps the company progress. “I see this as constructive criticism, in a way. We have two reviews with leadership where we can discuss what we are doing well and what we can improve on. It’s never negative or makes you feel down, but really helps you improve and move forward.”

A byproduct of transparency and radical candor at CSP is trust. While all of us believe that trust is an excellent thing to have among co-workers, not all leaders and their employees are able or willing to embrace it. For Maura and her teammates at CSP, they thrive on it: “CSP encourages me and makes space for me to do my best while maintaining a healthy relationship to work. This really comes down to trust.” CSP employees feel an authentic sense of autonomy that leads to a more creative, productive, and healthier work-life balance.

With some extra breathing room, both physically and professionally, Maura can do better work: “I know that my teammates at CSP are there when I need them but, otherwise, the firm makes space for me to do my thing, which is really validating. It has helped me gain confidence in my work and has, in turn, improved what I can provide my clients.”

Ultimately, transparency, radical candor, and the resulting trusting relationships help CSP team members follow through on collaborative, meaningful work valued by our employees and our clients.

Better Life, Better Work

In addition to allowing Maura to offer her clients valuable work that meets her high standards, the freedom and personal flexibility also positively impact her life. Of course, those two things are not mutually exclusive. The personal freedom that comes with a company culture and structure like that found at CSP is, by design, intended to create a beneficial cycle, a work-life balance that can make us live happier lives which, in turn, helps us better serve our clients.

But for someone who’s been a busy PR professional in demanding roles with clients who know her to be steadfast and reliable, it’s hard to imagine Maura having time for much outside of her career. The healthy balance comes from establishing a routine at home alongside her husband and their two dogs.

Instead of scrambling to shower, selecting an outfit, and commuting to her job, Maura wakes up and quickly finds herself sitting on her back porch with coffee and a granola bar, gearing up to start the day. Before starting work, she can spend time waking up in the sunshine and hanging out with her dogs as they patrol for squirrels instead of sitting in traffic or hopping on a packed subway car. After sufficient caffeination, she can pick up around the house, turn on her Roomba vacuum (which she insists is the greatest invention in recent history), and make her way to her desk to begin work for the day.

After work, she often takes advantage of the deck on the back of her home, only steps away from her desk, that overlooks a park. She might enjoy a cocktail, her husband a cigar, and they’ll unwind. Maybe they’ll watch some streaming science fiction shows and make plans for future outings: “We spend a lot of time with family,” she said. “We try to have dinner with my in-laws at least once a week and attend my nieces’ various activities like sports games, birthday parties, and things like that.”

Maura has carved out an excellent life-work balance that works for her and her family. A big piece of that, of course, is the flexibility and benefits that CSP makes available to her. Looking ahead, she enthusiastically talks about upcoming projects at CSP and is excited about the company’s growth: “We have a lot of potential for expanding current clients and gaining new ones. This means potentially broader work and new colleagues, which I find very exciting.”

Written by Timon Kaple
Digital Writer/Strategist
Clear Strategy Partners