Career Conversations Series: Meet the Expert! Dana Shell Rolls with the Punches and the Partnerships

Dec 23, 2021
Written by CJ

Junction Live host and Global SVP of Marketing and Business Systems at CJ, Nicole Ron, is joined by CJ Sr. Client Development Manager, Dana Shell for the final installment of Meet the Expert, our four-part career conversation mini-series in which we connect with CJ'ers from across departments and functions to learn about their current roles, career progression, and get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. Dana Shell dishes on her CJ journey, teamwork making the dream work, and exactly what it is that she would say she does here. 


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cj-affiliate-2021-nicole-ron-button-headshotNicole Ron, Global SVP, Marketing & Business Systems, CJ
cj-affiliate-2021-dana-shell Dana Shell, Sr. Client Development Manager, CJ




Junction Live: taking thought leadership off the page and into the studio with some of the sharpest minds in affiliate marketing.

NICOLE RON: 00:12 | Hello and welcome to Meet the Expert, a career conversation miniseries in which we connect with CJ’ers from across the globe in a variety of roles to learn about their current roles, career progression, and to get a glimpse into what life is like at CJ. Today we're joined by Dana Shell, Sr. Client Development Manager in San Francisco, California. Let's find out a bit more about Dana.

DANA SHELL: 00:37 | Yeah! Thanks for having me, Nicole.

NICOLE RON: 00:39 | Of course. So, I'm going to start with a really easy question for you, and that is what's your current role at CJ?

DANA SHELL: 00:47 | Sure. My current role is Sr. Client Development Manager. I've been in this role since October 2020, so I'm working with client teams to run their affiliate programs.

NICOLE RON: 00:59 | Awesome. And what does a typical day look like for you, if there even is such a thing as a typical day?

DANA SHELL: 01:05 | Sure. So, the SF office, we're really tight-knit, a lot of team effort. So, on a daily basis, I am working directly with a few members of my team to really move projects forward. An example of projects might be anything from daily reporting to a business review presentation to executing a media plan. And of course, building client relationships. That's a really key piece to my role here at CJ. So, making sure that we're supporting our clients on a day-to-day basis. Whether that's asking a question or hosting a weekly call. And to your point, every day is different, really depends on the season as well. We see summer looks very different than winter as far as what types of tasks you're working on. Obviously, during the holiday season, you're focused a lot on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, making sure that your clients are well-positioned for the holiday season. Whereas summer, maybe you're focusing on back to school or Prime Day or anything around those holidays.

NICOLE RON: 02:22 | Awesome. Thanks for sharing. And another question for you. Is the role that you have now the same as the one you started with CJ?

DANA SHELL: 02:30 | No. So, I started at CJ as a Client Partnership Associate. And so the Client Partnership Associate is really focused on maintaining and establishing new partnerships for the client and handling some operational tasks, but that role has really transitioned over the last few years to really be partnership-focused. And from there, I was promoted to a Client Partnership Manager, focusing on partnership still, but more top tier partnerships. And then back in October 2020, I was promoted to my current role as Client Development Manager.

NICOLE RON: 03:10 | Very cool. Well, congratulations. It sounds like you've gotten to accomplish quite a bit in your tenure at CJ so far. So, before you joined CJ, you mentioned that you had more of a sales role. What drew you to CJ, and why did you decide to start in the role that you were in?

DANA SHELL: 03:34 | Sure. So, first thing, when I was looking for my next opportunity, I definitely wanted to be in a space that fostered teamwork more than where I was. I also was looking for something where I could really actually make an impact, and I found that being able to actually help clients see year-over-year growth or execute on this huge campaign and actually make an impact on their overall marketing program to whereas my previous role, I was a very, very small fish in a massive pond. And so that's one of the things I was looking for. And I also did not know what affiliate marketing was at all, but what I learned about CJ throughout the interview process was that the people were great. Everyone I talked to was really passionate about their role and very welcoming and encouraging throughout the interview process. And when I got the offer, it was a really easy 'yes' to move forward.

NICOLE RON: 04:39 | That's awesome to hear. Yeah. I know one of the reasons I've stayed so long is I just love who I work with every day from my direct team members to the folks all the way across the org, so it's great to hear somebody else have a similar experience. I'm curious, what on a daily basis excites or motivates you about either your current job or the company in general?

DANA SHELL: 05:04 | I'll start with the company in general. I feel like there definitely is—we have so many great resources and opportunities to expand on your current roles. Within my org, we have tons of stakeholder groups to where you might be helping spin up a new project or launch a new initiative, or even help build a new training for the greater org. And there's tons of opportunity to be involved and start being more of a leader within your org, get a lot of experience talking to other people in other offices. And there's also a ton of support, especially this last year. We have so many great other training resources such as Marcel, where you have a whole library of online opportunities to expand your skillset really on whatever path you choose. On a day-to-day basis, again, tying back to the beginning, not every day is the same. And you really have the opportunity to help drive your client's business but put your own spin on it. I definitely have my own management style that I'm able to really apply and partner with my clients to run their programs. And again, you get to interact with so many different people across different orgs. Most recently, I work really closely with our integrations team, as well as even some folks from the publisher team and even across different offices, stakeholders in different verticals. And you really-- in any given week, you probably do come across some new faces that you haven't had a chance to interact with.

NICOLE RON: 07:06 | What challenges you the most at CJ?

DANA SHELL: 07:10 | What challenges me most is occasionally when you're having to juggle 10 projects across all of the clients in your portfolio, and sometimes it becomes a pretty big challenge to say, "All right. I have all of these things I need to jam into one week because I have all of these different clients with different requests. And so how can I do that most effectively with my team?"

NICOLE RON: 07:39 | Here's another question for you. It's going in a slightly different direction, but what's your experience with CJ leadership been?

DANA SHELL: 07:46 | So I feel like, throughout my career, I've found that because we're pretty lean org, it gets really easy to get one-on-one time when you really need it with your office leaders. I do feel like my voice has been heard any time I need to chat about something or even just get a perspective from anyone in our office who's in a more leadership role. I do feel like you have access that you may not have in some of those bigger organizations. I feel like we're just the right size to where there is that feedback loop all the way to the top.

NICOLE RON: 08:40 | Awesome. And another question I have is how would you describe CJ's culture?

DANA SHELL: 08:49 | And I'm four years into CJ and I know, as you mentioned, there's so many of our colleagues who have been 10 plus years and who have made the choice to stay. And I think, again, our culture tends to be super inclusive. Even within our offices or across offices, I feel like there's this great sense of community. I feel like, over the last four years, I've made some of my best friends here in the office. We've seen CJ really make an effort to be inclusive and make sure that everyone does have the resources they need to be happy and successful.

NICOLE RON: 09:38 | Awesome. And looking back at the time you've spent here so far, what do you think is the biggest thing you've gained from CJ?

DANA SHELL: 09:49 | Sure. I would say probably confidence in the work where I put forward on a daily basis. Coming from somewhere where your efforts didn't really amount to a whole lot and then transitioning into a role where I was contributing to large retailers, Q4, and being more than 50% of their online revenue contribution, it does really build your confidence in that I can be a market insight leader. I can really be a go-to for my clients when we're trying to either solve a problem or look for potential ways to expand the program. And so really, being confident in the training that I've had or using the training I've had to give educated confident analysis and recommendations, I think, is one of the biggest things I've taken away so far.

NICOLE RON: 10:58 | Great. How does CJ support you as a person? Are there any benefits or learnings that you've had or things about the job that really helped you either outside of work or just personally?

DANA SHELL: 11:17 | The ability to have a work-life balance is really great, and I think I've had managers who ensure, hey, everyone does actually care about each other on a personal level, so you do feel like you're being watched out for. Whether that's, "Hey, I noticed you haven't taken a PTO day in a while," that encouragement to actually make sure that you're having that work-life balance. And also, when bandwidth is a little stretched, working with your manager or other team members to figure out how you can alleviate some of that.

NICOLE RON: 11:59 | Have you learned anything about yourself that surprised you working at CJ?

DANA SHELL: 12:04 | I used to describe myself as maybe more shy or on the shyer side, and I think as I've started to take more of a leadership role on different accounts, I've surprised myself in the fact that making new connections does not make me nervous whatsoever. Actually, building new relationships is awesome. And I found that what I used to describe myself as shy, that all goes away.

NICOLE RON: 12:37 | That's awesome. That's really exciting to hear. And does that kind of go along with the confidence that you've helped develop?

DANA SHELL: 12:44 | Oh, yeah, definitely. And I think it all ties together 100%.

NICOLE RON: 12:50 | Very cool. All right. Now is your chance to brag a little bit. What's your proudest moment at CJ?

DANA SHELL: 12:57 | So as part of my role, we lead really big yearly, mid-yearly reviews for our clients to where we're really putting forth our recommendation and aligning with the client's objectives for the year and bundling it all up in this really beautiful presentation. And I would say the best feel-good moment is right after when you get that good client feedback, you get the good team feedback. I think that's really one of the best moments and it's something that makes me want to do even better for the next strategic review.

NICOLE RON: 13:39 | Great. Oh, I definitely love that feeling.

DANA SHELL: 13:43 | Yeah.

NICOLE RON: 13:44 | When you walk out feeling like, "I did a great job and had such an impact on the org," and you just get to take a moment to kind of breath it all in.

DANA SHELL: 13:54 | Yes. Yup.

NICOLE RON: 13:56 | Let's see. What advice do you have for people who are considering joining CJ?

DANA SHELL: 14:02 | I think one of the things that made me nervous getting into a new marketing channel was I didn't know what affiliate marketing is. And I think as long as you're coming into it with an open mind and willingness to learn, there's no need to be nervous about not really fully understanding what affiliate is because that absolutely will come with time.

NICOLE RON: 14:28 | Cool. And where do you see CJ in the future as a company?

DANA SHELL: 14:34 | Yeah. One of the things I like working about CJ is that we are an industry leader. And you really do feel like the access to products and insights that are coming from your company really are the top, and so I see us continuing to push that envelope even further. And really, I've seen since joining CJ, the new product releases, new tracking enhancements, or even internal resources develop, and I think that's amazing that we're continuing to innovate, and I don't see that stopping.

NICOLE RON: 15:16 | A lot of people don't even know what affiliate marketing is, so what is it that you actually do every day?

DANA SHELL: 15:24 | When I think about what I'm doing on a day-to-day and how that translates into what people will see is if you think about any partner site, so that could be an airline mall or a cashback site that promotes a bunch of brands and varying cashback rates or an influencer blog that is talking about their favorite retail brand, and whatever brand is featured, what we do at CJ is we're the middle man that's making that promotion on that partner site happen for that brand. If you see a brand featured by an influencer, our team is facilitating with the client all of the planning that goes into the final product that customers will see that really drives brand awareness, drives conversion, gets people talking about a brand or interested. And everything that goes into that will be the tracking, the budget for that media piece, the partner recruitment and activation, and overall media planning and partnership development. As well as between the client and CJ, you're building those relationships and you're really driving their affiliate strategy, which really means which partners are promoting the brand, how they're promoting the brand, what marketing messages the partners are using to introduce the brand to new audiences. That's really what we're doing. So, anything you see is really a byproduct of the projects that are going on with the advertiser development team or client development team.

NICOLE RON: 17:25 | All right. Thanks so much for sharing a bit about your experience as a CJ’er. Now, let's dive into a few rapid-fire questions. The goal of this segment is to get to know you a little bit better, so answer these questions as quickly as possible with the first thing that comes to mind. All right. Here we go.

DANA SHELL: 17:44 | All right.

NICOLE RON: 17:45 | So what's your favorite place you've ever visited?

DANA SHELL: 17:49 | Ireland.

NICOLE RON: 17:50 | And how do you like your eggs?

DANA SHELL: 17:52 | Scrambled.

NICOLE RON: 17:53 | What's your favorite childhood movie?

DANA SHELL: 17:57 | 101 Dalmatians.

NICOLE RON: 17:59 | Biggest pet peeve?

DANA SHELL: 18:01 | Loud chewing.

NICOLE RON: 18:03 | What's your favorite holiday?

DANA SHELL: 18:05 | Christmas.

NICOLE RON: 18:06 | What are you reading right now?

DANA SHELL: 18:08 | I'm reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

NICOLE RON: 18:11 | Oh. What's your favorite band?

DANA SHELL: 18:14 | It's a guilty pleasure, but Maroon 5.

NICOLE RON: 18:18 | All right. What's your favorite breakfast cereal?

DANA SHELL: 18:20 | Honey Nut Cheerios.

NICOLE RON: 18:22 | Favorite board game?

DANA SHELL: 18:24 | Monopoly.

NICOLE RON: 18:25 | If you could teach one subject in school, what would it be?

DANA SHELL: 18:29 | Art.

NICOLE RON: 18:31 | What kind of art?

DANA SHELL: 18:32 | Watercolor painting.

NICOLE RON: 18:35 | All right. What is something you can't do?

DANA SHELL: 18:39 | Land sports.

NICOLE RON: 18:43 | Window or aisle seat?

DANA SHELL: 18:45 | Window.

NICOLE RON: 18:46 | Favorite food?

DANA SHELL: 18:48 |  Sushi.

NICOLE RON: 18:50 | Least favorite food?

DANA SHELL: 18:52 | Pizza.

NICOLE RON: 18:54 | All right. Favorite Disney character.

DANA SHELL: 18:57 |  Dumbo.

NICOLE RON: 18:59 | All right. Name a place you want to visit.

DANA SHELL: 19:02 | I just got into paragliding and we were talking about going to Colombia for a cross-country tour. Or maybe Switzerland as my second.

NICOLE RON: 19:12 | What's something you wish you could be good at?

DANA SHELL: 19:16 | Land sports.

NICOLE RON: 19:19 | What's your favorite beverage?

DANA SHELL: 19:22 | Matcha lattes.

NICOLE RON: 19:23 | If you could buy yourself anything, what would you get?

DANA SHELL: 19:28 | Private jet.

NICOLE RON: 19:30 | Oh, that's good.

DANA SHELL: 19:31 | Make traveling convenient.

NICOLE RON: 19:33 | What's your favorite Halloween costume?

DANA SHELL: 19:36 | Boxer.

NICOLE RON: 19:38 | Do you have any nicknames?

DANA SHELL: 19:40 | My brother calls me Great Dane.

NICOLE RON: 19:45 | What's your favorite sport to watch?

DANA SHELL: 19:47 | Probably the Olympics when they do the competitive ice-skating.

NICOLE RON: 19:52 | Yeah, same. What's one item you could never live without?

DANA SHELL: 19:58 | My coffee maker.

NICOLE RON: 20:01 | What chore do you hate doing?

DANA SHELL: 20:03 | Taking out the trash.

NICOLE RON: 20:05 | What's your dream car?

DANA SHELL: 20:08 | A Maserati.

NICOLE RON: 20:10 | And what's your best feature?

DANA SHELL: 20:13 | Probably my sarcasm.

NICOLE RON: 20:16 | Awesome. That's a wrap. Thanks for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode of Meet the Expert, a podcast mini-series, be sure to check out the rest of our Meet the Expert series on Junction.


If you enjoyed this episode and are curious to know more about this topic and many others, check us out at junction.cj.com or find CJ on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

Topics: CJ Life,
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