WINNER: Sarena Ally
Account Manager
WINNER: Sarena Ally

In March, Sarena Ally took her first sip of Facebook Kool-Aid. That’s when the account planner, just hired from OMD, took the Facebook pilgrimage to the social network’s Menlo Park office for her official immersion into its corporate culture.

“They dunk you right in,” Ally laughs in a boardroom at the company’s Toronto office. “And you come out Facebook-ized.”

A young veteran with six years’ experience in digital marketing, Ally was already well-versed in Facebook before that first of nine interviews that landed her a job as a consultant to c-level executives at advertisers like Target, BlackBerry and Labatt.

A year prior, she’d been the digital lead on McDonald’s “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign, heading up media strategy and planning the buy—including a large Facebook investment—for the campaign that later won a Gold Media Innovation Award for online advertising and Best of Show at the 2013 Marketing Awards.

At Facebook, Ally is tasked with liaising with clients and their agencies, getting each party together at the same table to talk social strategy and learn how Facebook can accomplish brands’ business goals. Though Facebook has become a standard part of most big social campaigns, many marketers still struggle with how to use the network to accomplish their specific goals. It takes someone skilled in both brand building and media to connect the dots and deliver on a brand’s objectives.

Her agency experience – both at OMD and at ZenithOptimedia, where Ally was a digital media planner for two years – informs her work at Facebook and gives her a direct line to the agency world, one of the keys to bringing ad dollars to the network.