byFairygodbosson Apr 29, 2016

Fairygodboss of the Week: Susan McPherson

Susan McPherson

Photo credit:Susan McPherson

If you've ever wondered how networking looks at its best, look no further than Susan McPherson. Talk about a dynamo! And a connector! Susan is a woman who knows everyone - and even more incredibly, helps everyone. We feel so lucky to know her.

Fairygodboss of the Week: Susan McPherson
Founder & CEO, McPherson Strategies
New York, NY

FGB: Tell us about your career. How did you get to where you are now?

SM: At this point, I feel as if I've had nine lives and learned from each and every one of them. From waiting on tables throughout college, studying broadcast journalism in graduate school, my first "real" job working in the newsroom at USA Today to 17+ years at PR Newswire (with a five-year stint in the middle driving partnerships and marketing for a tech company) to this very day managing a successful consultancy. The one constant throughout was my desire to give back, serve on nonprofit boards, raise funds for causes and eventually I began to see how business could be a force for good in the world. Once that became clearer and transparency became the accepted norm, I realized I could play a role in helping shape that trajectory going forward.

FGB: What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?

SM: It's hard to pick out one as I feel I've been fortunate in my life professionally and personally. A few that I'd put up at the top:

- Moving to New York from Seattle in 2003 when I knew absolutely no one except for my sister

- Joining the board of Bpeace (www.bpeace.org) and traveling to Afghanistan in 2005 to work directly with the women entrepreneurs we were supporting

- Founding #CSRChat on Twitter in 2010

- Being part of the original team that launched #GivingTuesday

- Opening McPherson Strategies in 2013 (and happy that business continues to grow)

- Being selected to the board of USA for UNHCR and traveling to refugee camps in East Africa in 2015

- Supporting women entrepreneurs by angel investing in 8 of their start-up businesses as well as providing guidance in any way I can

FGB: What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

SM: Ha! So many! For years, I felt my size and stature held me back and prevented me from being taken seriously. Finally, however, I just the hell with it. I am who I am all 5 ft of me and I would rely on my brain power and friendliness to work a room or present a briefing.

Lightning Round:

FGB: What do you do when you’re not working?

SM: The funny thing is my work is actually truly pleasurable and rewarding so it often doesn't feel like "work."  But I would have to say that when I really tune it out, I love to spend time romping with my rescue pup, Phoebe, planning my next exotic trip or taking long beach walks when I can get near the ocean.  

FGB: If you could have dinner with one famous person - dead or alive - who would it be?

SM: Tough question! Catherine the Great has always fascinated me as she was such a strong woman, but after seeing Hamilton, it would have to be Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton who lived 50+ years after her husband was killed in the infamous duel.  She actually lived to the ripe old age of 104 which had to be extremely rare in the early 19th century.

FGB: What is your favorite movie?

SM: Bonnie and Clyde, Singing In the Rain and Princess Bride

FGB: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?

SM: It would have to be travel. Nothing makes me more excited than traveling overseas to far off places. There are so many nooks and crannies I have not seen so I'd make those the priority!  On top of my list: Antarctica, Nordic Circle, Patagonia, Indonesia and the west coast of Australia.

FGB: Who is your Fairygodboss?

SM: I have a few!

Nancy Sells who hired me many moons ago at PR Newswire and taught me EVERYTHING I know about client relations, sales, marketing and managing teams in the best way possible.

2) RuthAnn Harnisch whose professional and personal guidance and wisdom I could not live without. Her generosity is second to none and I would follow her to Mars if she asked!

3) My late mother, Beryl Spector, who went back to work when I was 6 years old just so she and my dad could pay for us kids to go to college. Within 5 years, she was at the top of her profession in public and media relations. I lost her when I was 21 but I do carry her spirit and memory with me each and every day.


Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.

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