Seeker Series: CEO Steph Noris sits down with this year’s IIIC Interns

At Norbella, we believe that great questions make up the foundation of growth, understanding and expertise. While we find this to be true at all stages of one’s career, it’s particularly important to embrace this mindset early on.

A leader in this philosophy, Founder & President Steph Noris continues to seek new opportunities for Norbella to provide mentorship to young adults interested in learning more about the media industry. Two years ago, the company embarked on a partnership with the Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC), an organization that provides young Irish students the opportunity to live and work in the U.S. for one year. Having now employed three IIIC interns from Ulster University at Norbella, the partnership has become a part of the agency’s core.

Last month the agency hosted a one-day workshop for all IIIC interns located in Boston, covering critical thinking in media, how to effectively ask questions, and the evolution of Norbella as an agency. The workshop quickly became an incubator for great discussion, fueled by the questions each participating IIIC intern asked Steph. Below we’ve shared our favorite questions and Steph’s advice to each student.

1. What’s the best advice you have ever received? — Malachy Toner, Liberty Mutual

The best advice I ever received was from a very successful agency owner. He simply told me to relax and chill out a bit. He said, being super stressed wasn’t going to help me be more successful. He told me there will be ups and downs and that over time you get used to the highs and lows. He was right. It took some time, but there isn’t all that much that stresses me out the way I used to get stressed. It did take experience to get there…but it was nice hearing from someone with more experience.

2. What question do you have to ask yourself every day as a company president? — Benjamin Delmond, Samiotes Consulting

What is my intention for the day? What do I want/need to get done? Sometimes I intentionally make my schedule and my ‘to do’ list heavy, because I know I have the energy and am motivated to be super productive. But, every once in a while, I give myself some time to rest both my body and mind. I have a lot going on at the office AND at home and sometimes I need a break from thinking about any/all of it. So, I allow myself that.

3. What style of leadership do you believe in? — Caitlin McGarry, Norbella

I believe in letting my team do what they do well. I am here to help people see or think of things they may not see or be thinking of. I like to help people communicate better and to help solve problems. I don’t dive into the weeds on anything. I help to guide and navigate, to manage better, to motivate more, to solve problems.

4. What tips do you have for living in Boston for someone who just moved here? -Eric Murray, Arbella Insurance

It’s a city that has so much to offer so embrace it and enjoy it. History. Innovation. Art. Food and music. But, also the ocean, the mountains and the four seasons. I feel very lucky to be in this part of the country and especially in Boston.

5. Did you find you encountered any obstacles as a woman in the business industry and how did you overcome these? — Claire McSherry, IIIC

I suppose I could say I did, but if I’ve ever felt someone was holding me back because of my sex…. frankly, I laughed at them. After having a good laugh, I worked around them, through them or moved onto something else. People that inhibit women or men from working hard and accomplishing what they are setting out to do in their careers are the ones that are losing out and they aren’t worth the time to try to change their minds. I try not to even think about people like that, it’s a waste of time and energy. I don’t behave differently in expressing my voice in front of men versus women. I think it’s ridiculous. I think women can do virtually anything men can do (minus some obvious physical differences — that’s the only place men and women should be compared).

6. As a University student that is undecided in what I want to do, did you always know you wanted to go into media? If it wasn’t media what would it be? — Niamh McAteer, IIIC

I originally thought I was going to end up on the business side of theatre. I fell in love with the arts after spending a semester in London during my senior year of college. As a part of the curriculum, I saw 60+ plays and I was mesmerized by it all. I moved to NYC to pursue my career and sort of fell into advertising, but I loved it right away. I stepped foot into my first agency and there was no turning back after that.

7. How did technology innovations help with the advancement of Norbella? — Alice Archer, Iron Mountain

This day and age it’s virtually impossible to do our jobs without technology. We committed to be a technology forward agency very early on. These investments allow us to be more efficient, automated, faster, insightful and helpful to our clients. We continue to audit and assess our existing technology as well as new offerings in the market on an annual basis.

8. What is a habit you have now that you wish you had developed sooner? — Richard Stevenson, Norbella

I believe in listening to everyone and hearing people’s opinions. I wasn’t always a great listener. I thought I had all the answers. I still slip up here and there…. but I have so many smart people surrounding me. I’d be crazy not to listen to them and to take their opinions very seriously.

9. Why is your company a good place to work? — Don Cicchelli, IIIC Learning Exchange Programs Employee

We care about our people a lot. We care about their happiness, their career path, their growth and potential. We also have a lot of fun together.

10. As an Irish Intern, coming to America is exciting for me as it’s the beginning of starting to climb the ladder. As someone who owns her own business and could be considered to be at the top of the ladder, how do you stay motivated? — Patrick Clarke, MG2

My motivation changes as my job and responsibilities change and shift. I’m most motivated to see our people working well together as a team. My motivation used to be solely driven by the work we did for our clients. Of course this is important…but I have a great team of people that know how to do that better than I do now!

Ongoing questions & confessions of a modern-day media agency.