Business

Best Under 40: Britten Follett

Marketing & Communications Director at Follett School Solutions

BIOGRAPHY

Age: 33

Occupation: Marketing & Communications Director at Follett School Solutions in McHenry/Director at Follett Corporation in Westchester

Current residence: Woodstock

Hometown: Marengo

Family: Husband, Nick Winkler

Education: Bachelor's degree in mass communications at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

What was your first job? As a volleyball player working towards a Division One college scholarship, it was difficult to have a job in high school and college. I got my first real job when I was 18 as weekend producer and reporter for WTVO in Rockford.

Favorite non-work related hobby? Traveling to wineries

Favorite book? The marketer in me says I have to tell you my favorite book is my own – “Who Killed Kelsey?” The true story was inspired by my coverage of a high profile child abuse murder case. But “Gone With the Wind” is a very close second place.

What's one word that best describes you? Disciplined.

PROFILE QUESTIONS

What is your job and how have you found success with it?

I am the director of marketing and communications at Follett School Solutions, our K12 division … or better stated, “Chief Storyteller” at Follett. The skills I learned in my first career as a television news reporter, including attention to detail and tight deadlines necessary to produce successful news stories on a nightly basis, influence my role in marketing each day. I’m a storyteller at heart and develop marketing campaigns for our products and services through the our customers’ voices. I often say I was doing “content marketing” before anyone created the term.

How did you first get involved with your current job? Why have you kept doing it?

I grew up in the family business as my dad, Chuck Follett, spent his entire career at Follett, retiring as CEO. I was first introduced to the company as an intern at 16 years old. My dad actually “fired” me that summer because I finished a summer’s worth of work in two weeks and then began pointing out ways he could be more efficient. I always said I was never going to come work for Follett because I wanted to “make it on my own.” After 10 years in the television news business and finally winning my Emmy, I decided it was time to retire the microphone and look for jobs in marketing/communications.

It just so happened Follett had an International Marketing Manager position open. I had been traveling with my dad for years, and part of the requirement of going to great places, like Egypt, was that I had to go along on the business visits to International Schools. I was ready to start marketing Follett products on day one. My role has evolved from marketing to communications and now back to marketing leadership. I truly love telling our customers’ stories.

What's a recent accomplishment and innovation that you are most proud of? Why?

After being nominated for five Emmys and going home empty handed, right after I retired from television news, my husband and I won Emmy awards for one of the last investigative reports we did in Oklahoma City. I am the first fifth generation Follett family member elected to sit on the Follett Corporation Board of Directors.

How do you give back to the community or your profession? What drives you to volunteerism?

I am the president of the Follett Educational Foundation, dedicated to providing college scholarships to the students of Follett associates. I serve on the Southern Illinois University Dean’s National Advisory Council to help shape the future of education for students of mass communications. I am the leader of the Follett Challenge, an education advocacy contest designed to reward the most innovative schools in the country. Through my child abuse prevention advocacy efforts, I sit on the board of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. Through my work leading and marketing these programs, I am using my time and talents to help others grow both personally and professionally.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Get out of television news! Seriously though, that one piece of advice inspired me to make a tough decision to give up a career I loved and embark on something uncomfortable. But that same persistence I used as a reporter to track down criminals hiding from the law allowed me redefine my career, expand my skills and gain a level of business acumen that allows me to help create the strategic direction of our family business.

Do you consider yourself one of the county's Best Under 40? Why or why not?

I’m honored to be named best under 40, especially since I’m in my early 30’s. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the my 30’s have in store.

BIOGRAPHY

Age: 33

Occupation: Marketing & Communications Director at Follett School Solutions in McHenry/Director at Follett Corporation in Westchester

Current residence: Woodstock

Hometown: Marengo

Family: Husband, Nick Winkler

Education: Bachelor's degree in mass communications at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale

What was your first job? As a volleyball player working towards a Division One college scholarship, it was difficult to have a job in high school and college. I got my first real job when I was 18 as weekend producer and reporter for WTVO in Rockford.

Favorite non-work related hobby? Traveling to wineries

Favorite book? The marketer in me says I have to tell you my favorite book is my own – “Who Killed Kelsey?” The true story was inspired by my coverage of a high profile child abuse murder case. But “Gone With the Wind” is a very close second place.

What's one word that best describes you? Disciplined.

PROFILE QUESTIONS

What is your job and how have you found success with it?

I am the director of marketing and communications at Follett School Solutions, our K12 division … or better stated, “Chief Storyteller” at Follett. The skills I learned in my first career as a television news reporter, including attention to detail and tight deadlines necessary to produce successful news stories on a nightly basis, influence my role in marketing each day. I’m a storyteller at heart and develop marketing campaigns for our products and services through the our customers’ voices. I often say I was doing “content marketing” before anyone created the term.

How did you first get involved with your current job? Why have you kept doing it?

I grew up in the family business as my dad, Chuck Follett, spent his entire career at Follett, retiring as CEO. I was first introduced to the company as an intern at 16 years old. My dad actually “fired” me that summer because I finished a summer’s worth of work in two weeks and then began pointing out ways he could be more efficient. I always said I was never going to come work for Follett because I wanted to “make it on my own.” After 10 years in the television news business and finally winning my Emmy, I decided it was time to retire the microphone and look for jobs in marketing/communications.

It just so happened Follett had an International Marketing Manager position open. I had been traveling with my dad for years, and part of the requirement of going to great places, like Egypt, was that I had to go along on the business visits to International Schools. I was ready to start marketing Follett products on day one. My role has evolved from marketing to communications and now back to marketing leadership. I truly love telling our customers’ stories.

What's a recent accomplishment and innovation that you are most proud of? Why?

After being nominated for five Emmys and going home empty handed, right after I retired from television news, my husband and I won Emmy awards for one of the last investigative reports we did in Oklahoma City. I am the first fifth generation Follett family member elected to sit on the Follett Corporation Board of Directors.

How do you give back to the community or your profession? What drives you to volunteerism?

I am the president of the Follett Educational Foundation, dedicated to providing college scholarships to the students of Follett associates. I serve on the Southern Illinois University Dean’s National Advisory Council to help shape the future of education for students of mass communications. I am the leader of the Follett Challenge, an education advocacy contest designed to reward the most innovative schools in the country. Through my child abuse prevention advocacy efforts, I sit on the board of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. Through my work leading and marketing these programs, I am using my time and talents to help others grow both personally and professionally.

What is the best career advice you have received?

Get out of television news! Seriously though, that one piece of advice inspired me to make a tough decision to give up a career I loved and embark on something uncomfortable. But that same persistence I used as a reporter to track down criminals hiding from the law allowed me redefine my career, expand my skills and gain a level of business acumen that allows me to help create the strategic direction of our family business.

Do you consider yourself one of the county's Best Under 40? Why or why not?

I’m honored to be named best under 40, especially since I’m in my early 30’s. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the my 30’s have in store.

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