Holding us accountable

Vice President of Accounts Dianne Mikeska keeps our team moving

Texas native Dianne Mikeska brings not only polished professionalism but also a heap of whimsy to her job as vice president of accounts. Whether it’s going all out and fully committing to her Halloween costumes (last year she was Annie Hall) or professing her love for stationery paper, Dianne brings her full personality to work every day.

Dianne’s bona fides in client management and marketing include working as an account supervisor for Peter Mayer and a brand strategist at Trumpet Group. At Subject Matter, she manages 10 account team members who keep the gears in motion on 15 to 20 accounts. We sat down with her to talk about what creates good client interactions, her work as an amateur weaver and how candy bowls bring people together.

Subject Matter: What is the most important part of your job in account services?

Dianne: Whether dealing with clients or internal team members, relationships are what’s most important — trust relationships. People need to feel like you’re looking out for them, that you hear them and that they can rely on you. And the key to that trust is being open and honest because at the end of the day, there are a lot of competing priorities. You want to be direct and clear and solve clients’ needs in a way that doesn’t harm trust.

SM: What do you love most about your work?

Dianne: What I genuinely love is the creative problem solving. Thinking about how we reach an audience, affect certain changes and ensure the important messages get across. The best is when we have the opportunity to get in with clients and think strategically with them about what will solve their problems. Even if it’s just a very specific need and we help the client figure out how to maximize it the best they can — man, that’s the high-five. And that’s what’s kept me in client services and relations management. You get to be on the front lines of identifying and solving problems and working collaboratively. And with our amazing team of creative thinkers, I enjoy bringing them problems because it is so cool to see how they bring solutions to life.

SM: According to your staff bio, you’re an amateur weaver. How’d you get into that?

Dianne: When I moved from New Orleans to D.C., I had no job prospects and had never been to D.C. except to show up with our rent-a-truck. So I decided, while making connections and meeting with friends of friends and former colleagues, to take some classes at the Art League in Alexandria, one of which was “Introduction to Rigid Heddle Weaving.” It’s essentially a small loom.

So, I took the course and fell in love and began weaving pretty much every day obsessively when I didn’t have a job. Lots of people got scarves that year. I tapped into a part of my brain that was both something mathematical, yet creative and very meditative. Because you’re doing something repetitive, but it can also be very freeform. And that really worked for me. I still weave today and I’ve made scarves, baby blankets, tapestries and table runners.

SM: So, tell us about the M&M bowl in your office.

Dianne: It has a very long and happy history. The first agency I worked at, our front desk lady had a candy bowl and everyone would stop by to grab some. She was super friendly. When I left, she gave me a candy bowl to put on my desk, and while I have a different bowl today because the old one broke, I found that it really does help you connect with your coworkers. People want to stop by and check in. It genuinely gets people to say hi. I’ve had a bowl at every agency since.

When I came here, one of our former account managers, Daisy Nguyen, said I needed a little spoon for my bowl because people kept using their hands. [Laughing.] She said it was disgusting and she didn’t want to eat people’s “hand M&Ms,” so I brought in a spoon.

I’m pretty sure I will always have a bowl of M&Ms. It’s perfect! Skip lunch? M&Ms. Need a pick-me-up? M&Ms. And you learn so much about your co-workers when they stop by for a snack.