Madwoman: Alumna Leads Digital Production for Madison Avenue Ad Agency

1/6/2014

Stevens alumna Ann Marie Guanlao McCaughey ’05 – a talented and bubbly Madison Avenue digital producer – found her niche through Stevens’ Cooperative Education program, which provides students with full-time, paid work experience at start-up to Fortune 500 companies.

“Stevens Co-op was really great experience for me because it was a way to understand what I enjoyed doing,” said McCaughey, whose Co-op assignments included IT and help desk work, running test simulations on GE helicopter engines, and finally, project management for a Citigroup technical team – the one that perfectly fit the team-oriented and social computer engineering major from Jersey City.

But it was many years earlier that McCaughey found her calling.

“I knew I wanted to be an engineer at 10-years-old,” she said.  “I was obsessed with the old IBM computers, and when my 5th grade teacher asked us to draw what we wanted to be when we grew up, I drew myself with a briefcase full of tools fixing a computer.”

Today, McCaughey is living her dream, developing and designing beautiful, user-friendly and highly-trafficked websites for Merck, State Farm and other major clients of DDB Worldwide, a New York City-based advertising agency.

She is passionate about her work, which enables her to put her hands on every aspect of major website projects, from strategy to user experience, to design to development to content management to process optimization.   

“When you’re involved in a project from inception through launch – for the full cycle – it is so cool and inspiring to see the website finally come to fruition,” said McCaughey.

McCaughey’s career has taken her from New York to California and back again.

After she graduated with her B.E. in Computer Engineering in 2005, she was hired by NBC Universal.

In the company’s elite Operations Management Leadership Program, she was able to rotate between various technical and project management roles every six months and fully experience the entertainment industry.

Next she moved to Los Angeles, where her husband, also a Stevens alumnus, was in graduate school.

She became immersed in the world of digital and online, building websites like LooneyTunes.com for Warner Brothers properties, and later transitioning to the digital agency side, doing content management, development and hosting for clients.

The couple then moved back east to be near family, and after a stint managing the digital properties for the major beauty brands Maybelline and essie at L’Oreal, McCaughey landed her current position at DDB Worldwide. 

She is thrilled to back in the region where it all began.

After fondly reminiscing about her favorite classes – Calculus 3, Materials Engineering and Engineering Design – McCaughey says she is a “huge advocate” of the Co-op program, especially.

“I think Co-op is one of the best programs a university can provide to prepare students for what they should expect in the workforce,” she said. “It’s incredible, and rare, to be able to work at a Fortune 500 company as a student and get that kind of real-world experience on your resume. And aside from the professional benefit to my career, it was a financial benefit toward my tuition.”

She even recently reconnected with her alma mater when she volunteered as an admissions interviewer for Stevens applicants.

What will she tell the high school students she interviews?

“Stevens is small school with a rigorous curriculum and a community of people that will allow you to grow and will help foster that growth,” said McCaughey.