Shani Sammons. How I love this lady! We first met when we both worked at ASA/Delta Connection waaaaaay back when in the early 2000s. Her energy and let’s-make-everything-fun attitude was magnetic. Everyone loved her (and still does). Taking advantage of our youth and flying benefits, we traveled the world together with a few other close friends. I have always admired her tenacity and desire to learn EVERYTHING. She has done more in her career so far than 10 people have done in their combined careers.
In her current role as head honcho at Shani Sammons Marketing Group (SSMG), Shani’s passion for connecting fans with their favorite artists through creative marketing/digital strategies has earned her opportunities to work with country music duo Sugarland, AT&T Country Deep, Sean Kingston, Styx, Mama Jan Smith, Sonia Leigh, Lady Antebellum, Jana Kramer, David Nail, Florida-Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Delta Air Lines, Turner Broadcasting, and NASCAR. And that’s the short list. And I can’t forget to mention that Shani also currently serves on the Atlanta Chapter of the GRAMMY Recording Academy Board of Governors. Well deserved (and I’m not biased at all).
1. What is your favorite experience from the early days of your career?
SS: I did an internship with Delta Connection at Delta Air Lines I learned tons from the operations teams to marketing to customer service. But my favorite experience was when I got to fly on airplanes all day, fly to 4-5 states and spy on the flight attendants as a “secret shopper” to ensure they were doing their jobs and giving great customer service.
2. To what to you attribute your drive and ambition?
SS: I guess basically that we only get a few chances in life and we need to take risks and opportunities. Also, one of the things my Dad told me years ago was that opportunity only comes once or twice in a lifetime, so I should learn to evaluate the opportunity and take that risk. And my mom was very encouraging of me to get my MBA at Georgia Tech. I’ve had a very supportive family always.
3. Some people unfamiliar with you may see the zigzags in your career as unfocused. You went from customer service to air traffic control to social marketing to social media consulting across all sorts of industry (Nascar, country music, TV). How do you think all the twists and turns in your career have benefited you?
SS: I think the “zigzags” have been a good path for me. I say this because it has put me out of my comfort zone and led me to the next opportunity in my career path. Also, recruiters, hiring managers, etc., always tell me they love my diversity and the variation in my experience. One thing doesn’t change – I’ve always been creative and understood “strategy” so I think this is something I can use to contribute to any business model or organization. Who doesn’t love a good creative geek and someone who sees the bigger picture?
4. Who would you like to see answer a Top 10?
SS: Brandy Clark, one of my favorite songwriters, performers, and someone I highly admire in the music industry.
5. What to you do to jumpstart your creativity and ideas?
SS: I do tons of blog reading, Twitter stalking to see/understand trends. When I travel for work, I always take time to seek out creative spots to just take a minute to sit down and take it all in. I keep a small notebook with me and my iPad and take notes religiously.
6. If no one is around to “judge” what music do you put on?
SS: Rap! I LOVE IT!
7. What is your go-to food?
SS: I love a great pizza and I also like crab legs!
8. Do you have a bucket list? If so, name one thing on the list.
SS: My undergrad degree is in aviation management. I’d love to get my pilots license. I love airplanes.
9. What is your favorite memory of Laura Lee Cotton?
SS: I’ve got tons I could share. First, let me say how much I have always respected Laura, her work ethic, professionalism but above all how good she is with people. I think to do what she does she has to have be a rock star with people and she definitely is. But my favorite memory is our trips to Puerto Rico together back when we worked at Delta. We could just hop on a flight and travel anywhere together for free as long as there were seats available. We had such fun times there, trying great food, dancing at the Puerto Rican dance clubs. Our favorite place to stay was the Hilton in Old San Juan. I’d do anything to go back to those days with her!
10. What is your biggest brag professionally and personally? Now … don’t be modest. SS: Hmm … I guess me getting elected to the GRAMMY Recording Academy Board of Governors and I’m also pretty stoked that I went back to graduate school and got my Masters of Business Administration from Georgia Tech. That degree and experience truly has benefited my career and confidence.
Check out Shani’s work at SSMG.