Oakwood native youngest CEO of Columbus ad agency

In January of 2020, Lauren Parker, an Oakwood native and Chaminade Julienne graduate, took over as CEO and co-owner of 40 year old FrazierHeiby - a PR agency in Columbus. She was just 33 years old - and led her new business through the global pandemic, realizing 15% growth
In January of 2020, Lauren Parker, an Oakwood native and Chaminade Julienne graduate, took over as CEO and co-owner of 40 year old FrazierHeiby - a PR agency in Columbus. She was just 33 years old - and led her new business through the global pandemic, realizing 15% growth

Credit:

Credit:

Growing up and leaving home is inevitable. Some people choose to stay close to the places where they were born and raised. Others feel the pull of larger cities far away, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come home again.

Lauren Parker was born and raised in Oakwood. A third-generation graduate of Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, she fondly remembers her childhood in Dayton and Oakwood, but she always had her sights set on bigger things.

“I have the best memories of going to the Air Force Museum, Carillon Park and really taking advantage of all the innovations in Dayton,” Parker said. “But I always knew I’d end up in New York City.”

ExploreFather, daughter honored for their work supporting nonprofit

After high school graduation, Parker attended St. Louis University and studied marketing and public relations. She accepted several internships while in college, including a few in Dayton. But the day after she graduated, she packed up her car and drove to New York.

“I didn’t have an apartment or a job,” Parker said. “I just knew I needed to be there.”

Parker spent nearly a decade in the big city, working at several agencies in New York before feeling her heart being pulled back home – to Ohio.

“My husband, Mat, and I were expecting our twins about five years ago in New York,” Parker said. “I knew my job would be portable, so Mat, also a Dayton native, started looking in Ohio.

Columbus based FrazierHeiby is 40 years old. But in early 2020, Lauren Parker, an Oakwood native, took over as CEO at the age of 33. She is shown with her husband Mathew Parker, also a Dayton native, and their twins, Wesley and Margo enjoying a UD Flyers men's basketball game in 2019.  CONTRIBUTED
Columbus based FrazierHeiby is 40 years old. But in early 2020, Lauren Parker, an Oakwood native, took over as CEO at the age of 33. She is shown with her husband Mathew Parker, also a Dayton native, and their twins, Wesley and Margo enjoying a UD Flyers men's basketball game in 2019. CONTRIBUTED

Parker was already working remotely for a public relations agency in New York and had clients across the country when her husband landed a job in Columbus – close enough to Parker’s parents, so they could help with the children. Two years later, Parker had her third child and decided to seek out work opportunities in Columbus.

“I met with Bryan Haviland, the president and CEO of FrazierHeiby, a 40-year-old agency in Columbus,” Parker said. “And ended up joining them in December of 2018.”

In conversations with Haviland, Parker learned he was planning to step down at the beginning of 2020 and that there would be an opportunity for her if she were interested.

ExploreCostco worker’s paper plate drawings are works of heart

“I never thought about owning and running my own business,” Parker said. “But once I got to know Brian and my other business partners at the agency, we started working out a succession plan and I became owner and CEO in January of 2020.”

Then the COVID-19 global pandemic hit and Parker found herself leading a small business that had to figure out how to continue serving clients during the shutdown. FrazierHeiby’s employees were sent home to work remotely in March.

“We had the tools and technology in place to make it seamless,” Parker said. “As for my family, we had to figure out how I was going to run a business out of my home with three children under the age of 5!”

With the same tenacity and skill that helped Parker land the role as the youngest CEO of FrazierHeiby, she rolled up her sleeves to figure out a plan where she and her husband could work from home and care for their kids.

“For the first four or five months of the pandemic, we had the kids home with us,” Parker said. “We sent them back to daycare when we could, but it was hectic!”

Lauren Parker and her family from left to right: Wesley, 5, Lauren Parker, Margo, 5, Silas, 3, and Mathew Parker. The family had to quickly change gears in early 2020 and adjust as most families did across the nation, to working remotely and juggling raising kids. Mat is an attorney in Columbus and is also a Dayton native. CONTRIBUTED
Lauren Parker and her family from left to right: Wesley, 5, Lauren Parker, Margo, 5, Silas, 3, and Mathew Parker. The family had to quickly change gears in early 2020 and adjust as most families did across the nation, to working remotely and juggling raising kids. Mat is an attorney in Columbus and is also a Dayton native. CONTRIBUTED

Today, Parker thinks back to her first year as CEO and the pandemic that changed so much as a “hiccup.” During that time, she grew her company 15%, never let any of her employees go and even proudly hired a few new ones. And her agency is also beginning to establish a footprint in Dayton.

ExploreFour-decade-old printing company growing its Miamisburg headquarters

“On my first day as CEO, I was eager and optimistic, but also anxious and self-doubting,” Parker said. “The voices in my head had me questioning if this was a good idea and if I was too young for the job.”

Parker, along with her co-owners and senior partners, Ann Mulvany and Whitney Somerville, both also in their 30s, developed an aggressive business plan for the next 30 years. And they spent the majority of 2020 waiting for clients to tell them they were pulling their business. But that never happened.

“I’m asked all the time about how being a young, female CEO impacts my leadership style,” Parker said. “In my industry, I don’t think my gender is as unique as my age is. I took over at the age of 33 and this seems to have given me an advantage. I’m able to bring the perspective of someone who grew up in analog times and lived through the transformation to digital media. I think I can be more thoughtful in how I counsel clients because I’ve had a foot on both sides.”

Contact this contributing writer at banspach@ymail.com.

In Other News