Meet Paige Soucie - Director of Community Engagement at Harvey Mackay Academy and #yesphx activist.
What was your career path?
I actually got my degree in journalism from the Walter Cronkite School at ASU, as well as a major in Political Science and a minor in Spanish. I wanted to go to law school but after a few classes, I really became interested in the multimedia and public relations side of journalism. I did a ton of internships during college, with different types of agencies, marketing departments and even the Diamondbacks. These experiences showed me how many opportunities there are with public relations and online marketing in so many different industries.
During my junior year of college I studied abroad in Spain, and when I got back, I started interning with another web development agency. The people I met and my experiences there propelled me into the world of entrepreneurship and freelancing, so when I graduated in 2011, I decided to start my own company and do freelance social media management. People would ask, “You started consulting right out of college?” Which in most cases seems strange, but at that time, social media was still relatively new and most people weren’t sure how to implement it, so timing was on my side.
I’ve been consulting pretty much ever since and I’ve gone through a few different iterations of what I’ve been doing; social media, community development, project management, events… I’ve been a jack of all trades. I’ve found a sweet spot working with startups. Startups don’t need specialists, they need people who can wear a lot of hats. I built a lot of different skill sets over the years, so I can come into a lot of different scenarios and provide value, and if I don’t know how to provide value, I have a network of people who can plug in where I can’t.
Since then, I co-founded a startup, worked with lots more, traveled the world for a year with a program called Remote Year, and most recently I’m working with Harvey Mackay Academy as the Director of Community Development, doing what I do best, which is whatever needs to be done.
You’ve very well connected in Phoenix, and helped with the first Phoenix Startup Weeks. Tell us about how it started and what it is.
In 2014, we had hosted a few Startup Weekends in Phoenix, and the organization behind that, UP Global, had come up with a new event called Startup Week. UP Global, which was acquired by TechStars, now facilitates those events. So, this new concept was brought to some of the community leaders and they wanted to make it happen. We were the fifth city to host a Startup Week, and it really brought the community together in ways we hadn’t seen before.
Phoenix is a unique marketplace because it’s so spread out. There were lots of siloed communities that weren’t aware of these other local communities that were dealing with the same struggles. Phoenix Startup Week shined a light on these communities and aimed to bring them together through a week-long celebration of technology, small business, entrepreneurship and most of all connection.
The first year, I helped plan one of our local city days, and the second year had the opportunity to be part of the core planning team. Attendance went from 2,500 the first year to 4,000 in our second year and has continued to increase every year, allowing us to continue to connect and cultivate a strong community to support local businesses and entrepreneurs.
You also help support the #YESPHX movement. Tell us about it!
The idea of #yesphx was actually the brainchild of Jonathan Cottrell, who came up with concept back in 2014 with the goal of creating a unifying banner for the community that is the Greater Phoenix area. There’s a common misconception that #yesphx is an organization that people need to apply to, when in reality it’s a flag we can all use to bring all the different local organizations and initiatives together.
The #yesphx website provides people new to the Phoenix community with a list of resources and tools that help them kickstart getting involved. It’s been amazing to see how community engagement has boomed as a result of our efforts, which can be seen at our larger community events, like our summer and winter socials, that have over 1,000 attendees. It’s truly amazing to see how our community has evolved over the last few years!
Breakfast of champions: Two scrambled eggs with feta and a slice of toast.
Power Song: My power song rotates, but something pop/EDM I can run to usually.
Best trip I've ever taken: Aside from just having the opportunity to travel the world for a year, it would probably be when I trekked five days to Machu Picchu! It was incredible.