Building to Support Change:
Often, when it comes to being a great communications consultant, you have to be able to see through walls. Clients don’t always know the full extent of what they need, or if they do know, they may have a hard time articulating it. So as their partner, you have to help them get there. In a way, it’s like being asked to remodel a home: you don’t begin to knock the old walls down until you first know what the foundation is like.
Such was the case with Zoom and their need for an HR communication strategy.
What was needed
Perhaps no other company had a year quite like Zoom did in 2020. But even before the pandemic hit, Zoom was well on its way to having record growth. For years Zoom was seen as a unicorn company, quietly amassing market share from larger, more established video conferencing rivals. Then, in 2019 the company went public, and with that came an explosion of business—as well as an explosion in hiring.
It was an exciting moment to be a Zoomie. But as with any company going through such a dramatic spurt, there were some growing pains. Pre-IPO colleagues had a different perspective of their company than post-IPO colleagues. There wasn’t a clear career path for most jobs. Often those who got raises were the ones who knew how to ask for them.
The leaders at the company understood that some changes were in order and had been making plans. Then 2020 came and the first quarantines went into effect, and practically overnight Zoom became a common household name. Suddenly this rapidly growing business had to figure out how to shore up its internal architecture, all while the weight of virtually the entire online world was resting on its shoulders.
- HR Communication strategy and plan
- Key messaging
- Visual identity
- Manager toolkit
- Training guides
- Executive presentation
- Digital and print assets
- Creative direction
What we did
Zoom hired ROI in early 2020 to help introduce and communicate their philosophy for career development and kick off the new program that would guide employee’s growth. We recognized that before that could happen, foundational work was required. In working with Zoom’s head of Talent and Organizational Development, we introduced a strategy that would ensure the goal of adoption and participation was achieved.
ROI got to work developing a plan, key messages and a distinct visual way to introduce the new career growth philosophy. ROI worked closely with the Zoom team to create materials unveiling the philosophy at the Zoom All Hands meeting, laying the groundwork and rationale of the coming changes for all employees.
Then, for a company where a third of managers had never managed before, it was essential that everyone from the CEO on down understand the career path changes, the reasons for it and how it was created. ROI built a toolkit to help Zoom’s managers introduce the changes to each employee in the company, helping them explain things like how new job levels were structured, what opportunities existed and how employees could develop their careers.
Along the way, we created additional materials—from the program’s visual identity to a 12-month roll out plan, training guides, messaging, an executive roadshow, FAQs—everything custom made for the audience. Messages were reviewed by ROI’s diversity, equity and inclusion panel to ensure they were bias-free.
“This is the most stunning piece of corporate anything I have ever seen. I would literally hang the images on the walls of my home.”
– Jodi Rabinowitz, Head of Talent and Organizational Development, Zoom
How it turned out
As with any client relationship, the number one thing we did was try to understand Zoom’s needs. At times, not even Zoom fully knew what was needed—understandable given that so much of what they were doing was completely new terrain. But one of ROI’s hallmark qualities is that we don’t just provide what’s being asked; we provide what’s needed, offering up ideas and solutions to which our clients can react.
This approach worked great with our client at Zoom, and she could see the thoughts that had been solely in her head take shape in the form of design elements, talking points and communication strategies that she could then take to her leadership team. In fact, she was so impressed by how the work turned out that she later remarked, “This is the most stunning piece of corporate anything I have ever seen. I would literally hang the images on the walls of my home.”
Because of our HR communication strategy, Zoom was able to roll out its new career path program to every employee in the company, ensuring that the future of Zoom—and of every household relying on its platform—is set for whatever event comes next.
The team that made it happen
Senior Vice President, Account Director
Senior Vice President, Account Director
Laura Dantes has been a top communications professional for more than 20 years, but traces her interest in the field even earlier – to the fourth grade. As a ten-year-old in Ohio, she entered and won a statewide caption contest sponsored by The Humane Society in the Akron Beacon Journal, suggesting that the words beneath a photo of a puppy and kitten read: "Don’t sweet meow me…"
This early evidence of Laura’s enduring belief in direct, transparent and engaging communications has been borne out in her subsequent career. Beginning as a technical writer and internal communications specialist in the aerospace industry, Laura moved on to become an account manager and executive with a series of public relations agencies, eventually rising to serve as a Partner and Managing Director of Copithorne & Bellows in San Francisco, which grew from $8 million to $13 million and a staff of 80 during her tenure. Subsequently, after the firm’s merger with the public relations firm Porter Novelli, she became both a Partner as well as Global Director of Knowledge Development and Client Services.
In 2008, Laura took a leadership position at a boutique marketing firm, The Linus Group, as Director of Client Services, before joining ROI Communication in 2010.
"I like giving people the tools to do their jobs well," said Laura, who has planned employee engagement initiatives, led integration task forces, designed training and leadership conferences, and coached top executives. "My approach is to watch and listen," she added. "Once I take it all in and understand the client’s goals, I focus on the best possible strategy and execution."
As a volunteer, Laura has mentored young people and served on the Advisory Board of the UC Berkeley’s SAGE Scholars Program, which promotes professional leadership training and career development research among low-income, high-achieving undergraduates.
Laura is a graduate of Willamette University, and has completed post-graduate coursework in several fields at American University, Pepperdine University’s executive business school, San Francisco State and UC Berkeley.
Senior Art Director
Cindy Ann Ganaden
Senior Art Director
With more than two decades of experience in graphic design, Cindy Ann Ganaden has developed an acute ability to translate what her clients want into designs they truly need.
“I love simplicity, but distilling ideas to just a few images or words is harder than it looks,” she said. “But that’s what makes it fun, Design can’t just look good, it has to be functional, too.”
Cindy Ann joined the ROI Communication team in 2020, bringing extensive experience in art direction and design applications such as user interface, email and web design, illustration, package design, product development, live event marketing, production and interior design.
She began her career at an ad agency where, working on the high-resolution, oversized photos for department store cosmetic counters, she gained a true appreciation for the technical aspects of print production. “I had to match the colors in the photos to the colors of the lipsticks, precisely,” Cindy Ann said.
Even in today’s virtual world, the tactile aspects of print are still relevant, she said. “There’s still something about having something in your hand that can make an emotional connection, and offer a powerful complement to digital communication.”
As the founder and director of Blu Penny, her own graphic design firm, Cindy Ann advised and assisted a wide range of clients, including leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, cosmetics, publishing, food and beverage, consumer goods, fashion, technology and the non-profit sector. She also worked in-house as an art director for Old Navy, Papyrus, and Time Inc.’s Business 2.0.
Cindy Ann graduated with a BFA from the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, and has pursued additional studies at UC Berkeley, the Center for Electronic Arts, and the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center.
When she’s not helping clients express their ideas through design, Cindy Ann enjoys running, hiking, snowboarding, crafting, sewing and taking her teenage daughter – a competitive figure skater – to frigid ice rinks several times every week. She lives in Berkeley, California.
Vice President, Account Manager
Vice President, Account Manager
Erika Jensen can move mountains – virtually, at least. Years ago, as a public relations associate working at Yosemite National Park, promoting the beauty of soaring peaks and cascading waterfalls felt natural. Now working in a business environment, Erika tries to make corporate communications flow naturally, too.
"I like that communication is a process," Erika said. "It’s not just a means to an end – you have to pay attention to the means. Because ultimately, it’s very human, and you have to anticipate how people will react."
Before joining ROI Communication in 2010, Erika spent 16 years working as a communications professional – as a strategist, writer, editor and project manager in multiple industries. She managed comprehensive services for clients that included the Coors Brewing Corporation, the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation, the BioSET Institute, the International Association of Business Communicators and others.
Erika, who earned a BS in Journalism from the University of Colorado, also holds an MS in Oriental Medicine from Meiji College of Oriental Medicine. Notably, she sees a connection between Eastern medicine and good communication; both are, at their best, holistic. "Companies are better off when they take a healthy, long-term approach to communication. Open and robust communication should become a part of the culture itself. It can’t just be an afterthought."
As a journalist, Scott Kaul focused on three things: uncovering the facts, determining their relevance, and translating this information into articles that grabbed his readers. As a writer for ROI Communication, Scott does the same, capturing the interest of readers on company intranets.
"I’ve always been interested in writing and communication," Scott said. "I bring clarity to communication, and help people understand what’s really going on."
Before joining ROI Communication in 2009, Scott worked closely on industry reports for Tiburon Strategic Advisors, a financial consulting firm. Prior to that, he spent three years as a staff writer and copy editor for the Lodi News-Sentinel, covering news, editing stories and updating the paper’s website. While at the paper, he also helped launch a series of blogs, engaged readers to produce content, and collaborated on the redesign of the publication’s front page.
Prior to his work in journalism and consulting, Scott tutored and taught writing for two years at California State University at Stanislaus, his alma mater. Working in the university’s Writing Center, he helped remedial students improve their grammar, punctuation and other writing skills. "Writing is the core of communication. It forces people to be specific and articulate what they’re thinking," he said.
In addition to writing, Scott is passionate about strategic board games, which build his critical thinking skills – skills that make him a better communicator. "When you’re communicating, you have to think a couple steps ahead of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it," he said. "You can’t just go in guns blazing."
While most people learn cursive with pencil and paper, Denise Rotman learned with shaving cream. And though decades have passed since then, that early sense of flow – how to communicate ideas with beauty – has never left her.
“Clients generally know what they want to achieve, but not always how to achieve it,” said Denise, who now serves as ROI Communication’s Creative Director. “I like coming up with solutions that are visually appealing and easy to understand, but also a little different.”
Adept at a wide range of design-related software packages, Denise’s skills include creative direction, visual and web design, front-end development, motion graphics, video editing, design strategy, product design, copywriting, storyboarding and branding. She is also fluent in English and Spanish, and proficient in Portuguese – languages she acquired from her parents and living abroad.
“Growing up in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and the United States, I became very aware of the similarities people share, as well as certain differences in how we communicate,” Denise said. “As a result, I’m a good listener and observer. I try to never jump to conclusions.”
Denise joined the ROI team in 2016 from the Spark Creative Group in Boca Raton, where she served as the firm’s Creative Director and developed dynamic user interfaces, helped a toy company develop an ideation platform – a structured process to engage the public in creating and developing new products – and produced explanatory videos.
Earlier, as Creative Director at Grass Roots America – a performance improvement company – she focused on developing more effective rewards and recognition programs for major corporations. Prior to her tenure at Grass Roots America, Denise served as an On-Air Motion Designer and Chyron Artist for ION Television, where she created promotional graphics for NBC Universal, Warner Brothers, Sony and other clients.
A Northeastern University graduate with a BA in Communication Studies and Visual Arts, Denise also studied at the Studio Art Centers International in Florence, and the School of Visual Arts in New York. When she’s not working, Denise loves to cook, practice yoga, and play her guitar.