Social Media Specialist Jimmy Patel-Nguyen spent five weeks in New York with our sister agency, iris, and their Concise group. A week after returning, he sat down with us to answer some questions about his time there.

How did this come about?

When a team from iris Concise came to Durham to share their capabilities with us a few months ago, Managing Director Adam Abrahami started a conversation with our Chief Talent Officer Sue Roche and President John Newall about doing an employee exchange. They needed some help with projects and asked if we had any folks able to jump in.  

In my role as social media specialist at McKinney, I’ve had some experience making sense of data, but I knew I had a lot to learn from the Concise team. And I loved the challenge. We performed a custom analysis of engagement across all touch points for one client, and a strategy for another to test and learn. The second was more getting them comfortable with the idea of “If this is your goal, here’s how we can best work together.” There’s nothing plug and play with clients — it’s all custom. 

What was it like to be on loan to a sister company? More like going to summer camp or being a foreign exchange student?

The latter, mostly because I wasn’t there for page one. I was air-dropped into a different culture where I had to learn the lingo, fast. The team — there were just five people — already knew how to work together really well, but they were excited about having some extra hands on the project, and I had to fit in right away. 

Culturally, did iris feel at all like McKinney? 

It felt like McKinney — the vibe was free-flowing, there was music playing, etc. And they have the same high expectations, keeping their clients at the center of their solutions.  

What was the most surprising thing about your time there?

Being able to find an Airbnb for $150 a night in a high-rise in Williamsburg within hours. Also, Google technology is pretty solid — I never got lost while I was there. But I noticed that I walked faster in New York City. It felt like everyone was on a schedule and moving to the next thing.

Have you changed how you work since you’ve been back?

Yes, I’m trying to use Excel in more areas of my life, so that I use data in more ways to pull out insights faster. At iris Concise, I learned how to structure data so that I can easily manipulate it in pivot tables later on. So, to get more practice, I’ve put all my tasks in an Excel sheet to create data to manipulate. It’s also a way to figure out how I work.  

Another thing I noticed while with iris Concise was the cultural awareness of using time wisely. In meetings, for example, they often vocalized the need to use the time well and to confirm that they were doing so. Their emails, too, were long and detailed enough so that the back and forth was minimal. 

You screen-print T-shirts at home. If you were to make one that represented what you took away from your experience at iris Concise, what would it say or show?

It would say something like, “What’s the best use of my time right now?