In late October, Borshoff turned 30. And that same date marked Susan Matthews’ 29th anniversary with the company, one of the region’s leading marketing firms.
“Besides a receptionist/bookkeeper,” Matthews said, “I was the scary first hire.”
Now, Borshoff has more than 50 full-time employees and a slate of clients that has ranged from University of Notre Dame to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and from Indianapolis Power & Light Co. to J.D. Byrider. Since becoming managing partner in 2011, Matthews has overseen its human resources and its operational and financial processes.
Originally, the company focused more on traditional public relations. But as the world changed, so did the company.
“A traditional PR person might have trouble being successful in the world today,” Matthews said. “What PR people need to do now is much broader than it was. We problem-solve at a high level.”
Matthews believes a great work environment fosters great work.
“We’re strong on professional development,” she said, citing the firm’s boot camp, which employees go through 90 days after being hired.
“The VP and I go deeper into the company,” she said, “sharing the financial mechanics of the company, the philosophy, the history—things that would be overwhelming in the first few days.”
As part of her commitment to employee buy-in, Matthews initiated a quarterly meeting with staff to go over key financial numbers.
“New employees are sometimes very surprised at how much we share,” she said. “We started that in ’07 [just before the financial crisis], and it turned out to be excellent timing. Everyone knew things where challenging and I could show them that, while we weren’t having growth, we were very solid.”
Matthews, who is from Connecticut, spent college summers interning at the Birmingham News. She later worked for Tulane University’s news service and publications department before moving to Indianapolis in 1985.
A downtown resident, Matthews in her off hours enjoys hiking the trails at Fort Harrison State Park and getting out to theater and music. She also is committed to her board work for Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and, more recently, the Indy Chamber.
From company founder Myra Borshoff, Matthews learned “the importance of really listening to the client and hearing what their needs and goals are, then providing valuable counsel that will help them get there.”
Matthews also credits her clients for teaching her lessons along the way.
“I’m so fortunate to work with so many different people. I remember one who kept saying, ‘Is there potential there?’ meaning, ‘Don’t just look at what something is; look at what it might be.’ It’s not brain surgery, but I have these little gifts that I’ve learned from different people over the years.”•
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