True Life: Eric Swenson

Inside the Office:

Eric Swenson is a Creative Project Manager in our New York office. Eric works closely with our clients to map out their communication needs and to define the role Vanguard Direct will play in meeting their objectives. On a day-to-day basis, this means managing a dedicated creative team to work on specific projects, presenting work, and setting timelines and budgets.

Eric has a versatile advertising agency background, having worked with several top corporate accounts, including Northwest Airlines and Charter Cable. He’s done extensive copywriting and video editing work as well. All in all, he’s worked as a project manager for nearly nine years. Eric received his bachelor of science degree in communications (with an emphasis in television and radio production) from Bradley University, where he also studied business management.

Outside the Office:

In an effort to start anew, Eric made the leap from the Midwest to Midtown. He moved to New York City eight years ago with enthusiasm that knew no bounds. Almost immediately after arriving, he joined the theater group Blue Hill Troupe, not necessarily because of his huge passion for the arts, but as a way to meet people. Presently, he is an active member who, in season, dedicates a few hours each day––for up to five days a week––to the show. This charitable, nonprofit group of actors was founded in 1924 and continues to support various NYC-based charities (currently the GO Project) by performing a Broadway show in the fall, an operetta in the spring, and several concerts around the city every winter. One of his favorite shows to perform was Little Shop of Horrors, where he got to be the man-eating plant, Audrey Jr. Many Vanguard employees attend the shows to support Eric as well as Blue Hill Troupe’s partner charity.

The after-work activities do not stop there. Eric plays soccer, softball, and tennis and is also the president of a wine club as well as a cheese club, both of which hold monthly meetings. His life as wine aficionado began at the beginning of his advertising career when he lived in Minneapolis. After a long day at the office, Eric would go to work at a high-end wine store. It was here he learned the intricacies that go into a great bottle of vino. Each wine meeting is dedicated to learning about one wine from a particular region (the club has covered over 30 regions!) and the proper food that complements that wine. At the moment, the wine club is at capacity with fifteen numbers, and there is an ever-growing waiting list. The cheese club idea was sparked when a friend gave Eric a “cheese of the month” membership for a year. Not wanting to end his gourmet cheese experience, Eric started a club in which members pool their money to buy a yearly membership and to enjoy the great company of fellow fromage fans.

Eric is originally from Wisconsin, went to school in Illinois, and has been to every state except Texas and Alaska. Yet the borders of the U.S. do not limit his travels––as a solo traveler he has been to England, Argentina, China, Thailand, and Cambodia, just to name a few. Later this summer, he plans to explore the wonders of Kenya and is especially looking forward to taking a train that passes through wildlife preserves.

One of Eric’s Favorite Vanguard Direct Moments:

For a while, Vanguard Direct has been putting together holiday video cards to send to clients. Two years ago, Eric was put in charge of this assignment and decided to tackle the festive challenge with a music video. His vision required the entire staff to be involved, each person having his or her own part to play during “Jingle Bells” (the Glee version). Eric’s theater experience proved useful, though the logistics and choreography were still quite a task. Collectively, the Vanguard staff was ambitious and wanted to complete the music video in a single shot. This meant everyone had to perform flawlessly or they would have to “take it from the top” and start over. It was a true test of patience.

The first take was not perfect, but after six or seven takes, the Vanguardians nailed it. What had started out as a simple assignment quickly morphed into an office bonding experience. Following the final take, people were cheering and high-fiving. It was one of those rare instances where Vanguard employees all had to work together to achieve one common goal. Eric explains, “The entire video was a mere 90 seconds, but the memory of it will certainly last a lifetime.”

Author: MinJi Kim, Liz Baron, Lindsey Clark

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