Bay Life: Pereira O'Dell, San Francisco

The variety of categories and clients I’ve worked on since moving to the Bay has been dizzying.

Ashley Wells
Director of Communications Strategy Pereira O'Dell

Tell us about yourself and your current role: Where are you from? What do you do?

I’m an Atlanta-born-and-raised Director of Communications Strategy here at POD. The crux of my job involves running a team of specialists in charge of strategically informing creative implementation including consumer behavior and usage insights, channel strategy, messaging hierarchies, and social, content, and data and measurement strategies.

How would you describe the culture of San Francisco?

DRIVEN. Across the board, there is a feeling of doing whatever your thing may be to the absolute. To me, this comes through not only in the form of the start-up success we’ve been surrounded by time and again, but also in the intense way people in the Bay Area pursue their downtime. Bike rides are 100-milers. Camping trips are three-day long backpacks in the most remote areas of the Sierras. Even our costumed events here (of which there are MANY) have to be epic: seven-mile runs, week-long Halloween, and Hunky Jesus contests. It can honestly be exhausting constantly feeling the need to excel on all fronts, but, on the other side, it’s super motivating and inspiring to be surrounded by mega-achievers all the time.

In what ways does the city or its culture inspire you and your work?

The past lives of San Francisco and the Bay Area inspire me more than anything – the huge role it played and continues to play in the Civil Rights and Gay Rights movements, the hotbed of creativity, and feeling of things happening that permeates everything here. It truly does make me feel that the future could hold anything. Outside of that, there’s honestly nothing more rewarding to me than spending my days off driving in any direction to reach some of the most beautiful, invigorating places in the country - Sonoma, Yosemite, Big Sur, Mendocino - and actually feeling refreshed when I get back to work on Monday.

What is the best incentive that San Francisco offers agencies?

I believe that the access and proximity to forward-thinking clients and raw, smart people is a huge advantage. The variety of categories and clients I’ve worked on since moving to the Bay has been dizzying. However, this is also a challenge, as there are a ton of great client-or-publisher side opportunities outside of agency life that appeal to top talent earlier in their careers.

Could you offer any advice to young talent heading to work in San Francisco?

Only come out here if you’re prepared to live like you’re in college for a while. Everything here is even more expensive than you expect - rent, food, transit, coffee, drinks, clothes - there really are no cheap options. And, once you’re here, be really open-minded about the trajectory your career could take. There are a lot more non-traditional paths here.

Why should young talents and industry leaders come to San Francisco? What is the best part of working in San Francisco?

The lifestyle and opportunities San Francisco offers made it a better option to me than the similar price-point of NYC, but it’s all about your priorities. Here, you get the outdoors, new thinking, and a more entrepreneurial, self-guided career and mindset. We work hard, and fast, but the work-life balance here feels real, because a full life feels more accessible.

If you had to choose, what is your favorite hidden-gem in San Francisco?

From an experience standpoint, there’s nothing more SF to me than the consistency of 65-degree temps here, allowing for year-round long runs under groves of super-fragrant eucalyptus trees. From a food standpoint, as a girl from the south who misses proper queso, Velvet Cantina in the Mission has the best nachos in town and excellent mezcal cocktails with which to wash them down. Somehow, it isn’t mobbed 24/7 unlike the way less-delicious Tacolicious outposts.