Even the best and most carefully thought-out plans will change. I like to always think and plan ahead, but everyone who works in this industry knows there are just so many variables and factors we can’t control, that I’ve come to take a “Plan and Pivot” approach to things — you plan as much as you can, and then you pivot when the curveballs come in. This mentality has been a saving grace in 2020.
As a part of our series about Nashville’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Sina Senger.
Sina Seger is an Account Director at Nashville-based entertainment marketing agency, FlyteVu, where she spearheads brand partnerships in music and entertainment for corporate brands including Barefoot Wines, Cracker Barrel, Jack Daniel’s, and Vanderbilt Health. Sina leads FlyteVu’s account teams in strategizing and executing innovative and meaningful campaigns that connect brands to their consumers using the power of music, entertainment, and the latest innovations in tech and pop culture. After seven years of managing client relationships in international wealth management while working for the Swiss bank UBS, Sina relocated from Zurich to Nashville in 2016 to earn her MBA at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. She has collaborated with local music startups on several study projects, and complemented her marketing concentration with classes on copyright law and the music business. Sina joined FlyteVu in May 2017 as a summer intern, quickly working her way up the rankings as project manager to then account manager, and now account director. A singer and songwriter in her free time, joining FlyeVu allowed Sina to align her business skills with her passion for music and the entertainment industry.
Thank you so much for joining us in this series! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit of the ‘backstory’ of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in the small town of Stolzenberg in Switzerland, about an hour east of Zurich (it was small enough to only have 54 people, and not even a zip code of its own). I grew up walking two miles to school and back, twice a day, and some of my fondest memories to this day are some of the days my friends and I would be late because we got lost chasing butterflies in the fields. Even though I grew up in a small town, I’ve always had big dreams inspired by the books I was reading, the movies I was watching, and the trips we used to take as a family. I was fortunate to have parents who loved to travel and helped me discover at a very young age how big and amazing the world we live in really is, and that has led me to develop a curiosity for different languages, cultures, people and places, which has led me to where I am today.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
All throughout my life I’ve loved music. I’ve loved learning to play different instruments, singing and writing, listening to records, and going to concerts. When I started my professional career, I decided to go into banking, because who wouldn’t want to be a Swiss Banker, and while that was an incredible career path full of great opportunities, I was lacking an outlet for my creativity and, in some ways, felt like I was not finding as much of a purpose in the work I was doing. As an opportunity to give myself time to reset and rethink my career path, I came to Nashville to earn an MBA at Vanderbilt University — and instantly knew that Music City was where I wanted to make myself a new home. Through a friend, I was introduced to Laura Hutfless, one of the two co-founders of FlyteVu, who offered me an opportunity to bring my business mindset into the music and entertainment industry by joining her agency — and I haven’t looked back since.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Where to begin! I feel like I’ve lived five lifetimes of stories since moving here five years ago, but one of the most unforgettable memories is when we were filming content with three female country music artists, and the three of them were warming up outside the studio by casually singing Joni Mitchell songs together. In this moment, there were three generations of women in country music, each of them an icon in her own way, bonding over the songs of yet another legend. It was one of those moments where you’re reminded of why this business is so unique and special. It’s getting to be part of moments that money can’t buy. A lot of times we work to create these moments for fans and consumers, but every once in a while we get to be a part of them, and that specific day is a day I’ll never forget.
Can you share with us an interesting story about living in Nashville?
I think the most impressive thing about Nashville is the way this town comes together time and time again in the face of adversity, in spite of many residents being transplants from other cities, states or even countries. The most recent and most striking example of that was when Nashville was hit by a Tornado in March of this year and the entire city showed up for each other. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness this community come together.
Can you share with us a few of the best parts of living in Nashville? We’d love to hear some specific examples or stories about that.
I love how Nashville is a town of transplants who moved here to follow a dream, to make something happen for themselves, and who are willing to hustle to get there. I’ve met so many smart and talented people with incredible work ethic, and unlike what you’d expect from many smart and talented people in a competitive industry, people here are genuinely nice and collaborative. I work on a lot of campaigns and projects that are pushing new boundaries and creating programs that have never been done before. While it always takes some work and effort to build these programs out collaboratively so that everyone wins, I rarely find that people decline the opportunity to at least try and see if we can figure something out, and I believe that’s why creativity flourishes in this town.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Not necessarily a mistake, but still a funny memory from my very early days is what we all still refer to as my “initiation” to the music business. When I was working my first CMA Fest, one of the artists we had partnered with asked for a bottle of Jack Daniel’s — and somehow the entire venue did not have a single bottle of Jack anywhere. I ended up running 12 blocks to the closest liquor store and back just for that one bottle of whiskey, and ever since have always stocked extra for any talent rider — lesson learned the hard way!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Not just one, but many. I’m proud of all the things I’ve accomplished through hard work and determination, but it truly takes a village. I would not be where I am if it wasn’t for my teachers who believed in me and encouraged me when I wanted to learn English years before the curriculum was planning for me to do so. Or for my parents who took our whole family to live abroad for several months when I was just 11 years old. That experience truly changed my entire view of the world. For my mentors in my banking career who wrote my recommendation letters to Vanderbilt and supported my education financially and otherwise. For the career and life coaches at Owen Graduate School of Management who helped me navigate the Nashville job market even though I was pursuing a very unconventional career path for an MBA student. For Laura Hutfless and Jeremy Holley at FlyteVu who gave me an opportunity to prove myself as an intern when most people in the industry wouldn’t take a chance on a girl that moved here from another country trying to follow a dream. For the friends who have been there for moral support all along the way. For my team who shows up with grit and determination every single day bringing our ideas and visions to life. For all the partners in the industry who have helped make every single campaign I’ve worked on possible and continue to take my calls. And as much as I try, I could never list every single person — I’m just grateful to have such a strong support system.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m always extra excited when I get to work on partnerships with brands or talent that I know my family and friends back in Switzerland will recognize. As a huge fan of Dolly Parton’s (I mean, who isn’t) I’ve just had the opportunity to work with her on two different holiday programs, which has been a personal career highlight. For most of our clients, we’re already planning campaigns for 2021. Personally, I’m most excited for campaigns that give back in some form and there’s quite a bit of that in the works. I’m also hopeful for some IRL activations — fingers crossed!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s okay to have fun (even if it’s work). This seems like such a no-brainer, but I was raised on a “work first, then fun” mentality and letting myself truly enjoy the fun side of my job is something I still sometimes struggle with.
- Even the best and most carefully thought-out plans will change. I like to always think and plan ahead, but everyone who works in this industry knows there are just so many variables and factors we can’t control, that I’ve come to take a “Plan and Pivot” approach to things — you plan as much as you can, and then you pivot when the curveballs come in. This mentality has been a saving grace in 2020.
- Invest in relationships. They’re not kidding when people say, “It’s all about who you know”. Our industry is a relationship industry, and Nashville in particular is a relationship town. It’s worth investing time and effort in building genuine relationships. Don’t just call when you need something.
- A “no” can be a “modified yes”. Just because the initial ask or proposal is rejected doesn’t mean there’s not a way to figure it out. I don’t think I’ve gotten an immediate “yes” on many asks I’ve made. Initial outreach is just a starting point. It takes some listening, some collaboration, and a lot of creativity to get to a win-win solution.
- There’s more to life than Project X. I have found the greatest satisfaction in knowing that a specific campaign and/or the work I do contributes to a larger purpose. I’m grateful to work for a company that believes in giving back and does so in a way I haven’t seen many other companies do, and to work for clients who allow us create programs that make a social impact.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Find out what feeds your soul, and make sure you get plenty of opportunity to nurture that. For me, that means making sure I feel like my work has a purpose and brings me joy, challenges me and feeds my passion. The music and entertainment business is one that asks for a lot of time, especially nights and weekends. If you want to be in it for the long haul, you have to find joy and fulfillment in what you do. You can’t do it as “just a job”. Carve out time for the things that matter to you besides your job when you can. You have to be intentional about making room to recharge, otherwise you will get steamrolled because there will always be something for you to do.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’ve hinted at it earlier when you asked me about who helped me get where I am. I truly believe in the “village” that built me, and if I could inspire a movement based on that, it would be that we all strive to be part of someone else’s village. If we have an opportunity to lift someone up, open a door, bridge a gap, inspire, mentor, support someone — I hope we all actively look out for those opportunities, and act on them when they show up.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My Uncle Frank has been sending me a card for my birthday every year since I was little, and often times he ends it with the words “The world is open to you if you are open to the world.” It’s one of my favorite life lesson quotes because it has taught me that my attitude determines what the world can be for me. It has also inspired a desire in me to explore the world, and to walk through life with open eyes and an open heart, without any judgment but a whole lot of curiosity, empathy, and open-mindedness. I believe we could all use a little bit more of that.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
One of the women I most look up to for her grace, wisdom, determination and compassion is Michelle Obama. I’ll travel anywhere if you can make this lunch happen.
How can our readers follow you online?
Professionally, I can be found on LinkedIn, and personally I’m most active on Instagram as @___si_na___ (yes that is a triple underscore — I’m sorry!)
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Thank you so much for the opportunity!