Meet Araselie Smith: Talent Lead Extraordinaire and Culture Builder
We recently sat down with Araselie Smith, our new SVP, Head of Talent, to get to know her better. As a seasoned HR professional, Araselie has spent over 20 years in the industry, dedicated to cultivating irresistible agency cultures. Which is why we’re over the moon to have her at Arc!
Read on to learn more about this passionate Brooklyn native, what drew her to Arc and what she’s looking forward to this summer.
Q: Hi Araselie! We’re so excited you’re here. Tell us about yourself!
Hello! I’m so happy to be here.
At the forefront, I’m an HR professional with over 20+ years of experience in the advertising industry. Fun fact: I spent about a decade in account services before I found my true calling in HR. It was a natural transition for me; I love that I get to create a positive workplace and culture while still helping address the agency’s business needs.
I’m also an east coast gal (Brooklyn born and raised!), a wife, and most importantly, a proud mother to my adorable 4-year-old son, Miles. We currently live in New Jersey and are looking forward to the rest of summer.
Q: So, what drew you to Arc?
Arc’s leadership team and their unified vision of building a commerce agency of the future.
Seeing the relationships, passion, and camaraderie across the lead team was important to me because it’s very telling of how the organization’s culture is when demonstrated from the top. If they have mutual respect, that trickles down to the rest of the organization. I wanted to go into a healthy environment and work with leaders who enjoy what they do and want nothing but the best for their employees.
Also, I’ve worked with Soche Picard in the past at a different agency, and she was a great leader; it was a no-brainer for me!
Q: As companies look ahead to life after the pandemic, what is your vision for RTO? What is the agency’s POV on a hybrid work model?
Arc is committed to flexibility. Putting our employees at ease is our top priority, and the only way to achieve that is to ensure flexibility is worked into all RTO plans. The truth is, the hybrid model is not a “one size fits all.”
Luckily, Publicis Groupe has created a “Work That Works” model that gives our employees a unique opportunity to be intentional about every encounter:
Heads Up is our hybrid standard, which includes a mix of working from home (WFH) and working from the office (WFO). Heads Down (WFH) is our remote working standard. And Heads Together (WFO) is our in-office standard.
Whether we’re meeting with clients, gathering for a live brainstorm, or putting our heads down to conduct desk research. Each moment matters. And we encourage our employees to determine what’s right for them so they can work effectively in a way that’s the best fit for their lifestyle.
Yes! Arc firmly believes that “family” means something different for everyone; there are no traditional, “one-size” families. Whether you’re a new parent (or trying to become one), a caregiver, navigating loss, or need personal time to focus on your family, we strive to provide our employees with ultimate flexibility and support.
In fact, these offerings are part of our suite of inclusive benefits and policies in Publicis Groupe U.S. to support our talent’s evolving and diverse needs.
Our offerings include:
· 12 weeks paid Parental & Family Care Leave, available to all regular employees on day one of employment (no waiting period)
· For birthing parents, 20 weeks paid combined disability and Parental Leave
· $25,000 Adoption, Surrogacy, and Fertility Assistance
· Unlimited Flexible Time Off Policy and 12 annual sick days
· Up to three months for a gradual transition back to work schedule for new parents
· Medical and Personal Leave Options
· Discounted Bright Horizons Back Up Care
· Bereavement Leave covering the loss of a family member, friend, pregnancy loss, or unsuccessful adoption
· PublicisParents and ParentKind, our dedicated Business Resource Groups for all parents and their allies
· $5,000 Dependent FSA Program
· Ongoing flexible work arrangements
Q: What is the agency doing to champion a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture?
Over the past two years, the agency truly started its efforts to champion DEI. And we’re still embarking on our journey with no plans to stop or pump the brakes. Since 2020, we’ve implemented a strategy to help us do better.
The agency's talent strategy is to attract, retain and develop a diverse tapestry of talent for the next generation of leaders who will successfully usher our company forward. While we are making strides in agency diversity through our hiring efforts and fostering a more inclusive environment through learning initiatives, we launched our Career Dialog program in late 2020 further the career development of Black talent across our network through senior-level advocacy and sponsorship career pathing and supplemental experiences.
Speaking of the next generation of leaders, we helped launch The Pencil Project in 2020, which is a partnership with Chicago State University and The Marcus Graham Project to run their first-ever ad bootcamp for college students. With a goal of creating long-term pathways into our industry, this 10-week curriculum offered eight students paid internships across Publicis agencies, including Arc!
The Pencil Project also provides us with a pathway to improve our recruiting efforts by partnering with historically black colleges and universities to revamp our job descriptions to have more inclusive language.
One of my favorite internal initiatives has been the creation of Directory 25. Our agency-wide goal is to have 25% of our work produced by and with diverse production partners. Our dedicated Directory 25 team is creating a digital Rolodex of diverse production partners, including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and Women talent. To date, we’ve published 12 issues and showcased over 40 names of talented vendors.
Most importantly, you can’t make progress without accountability. Which is why Arc also vows to be transparent when it comes to reporting on our DEI initiatives and where we stand in our journey to making the industry a more welcoming place.
Q: What are you most excited for this summer?
I’m so excited to take full advantage of my backyard. We just had a BBQ kitchen built-in, so I’m looking forward to inviting family over, enjoying the warm weather, and cooking delicious meals on the grill!
Q: Any book, show, movie, music, or recipe recommendations?
I highly recommend the book And The Mountains Echoed, especially for those who enjoyed The Kite Runner. And if you haven’t watched Ozark on Netflix yet, queue that up! I’m obsessed.