Michele Elrod currently serves as the executive vice president, head of marketing for Regions Bank. In this role, Elrod oversees all marketing efforts for the company and mentors young professionals. Mentoring is clearly a passion for Elrod as she was instrumental in the development of the Oakley Society, one of the University of Alabama College of Communication and Information Sciences’ mentorship programs.
The Oakley Society, named after Mr. Jim Oakley, is a mentor cohort that partners students with professional mentors who work in the students’ area of interest. One goal of this program is to help students prepare for the professional roles they seek after graduation from the university.
“Elrod’s leadership and thoughtful advice helped to create the mentorship program that preceded the Oakley Society,” said Dr. Joseph Phelps, the chair of the Department of Advertising and Public Relations. “Without her involvement, the Oakley Society wouldn’t be what it is today.”
Over the years, Elrod has seen a number of her mentees succeed, noting that several of the relationships have lasted long past their time as students.
“My goal with the mentees is to understand their areas of interest and expose them to those associated marketing disciplines through onsite discussions and ‘shadowing’ experiences,” said Elrod.
During her time as a student at UA, Elrod “fell in love” with the study of consumer behavior and advertising, and this has impacted her approach to marketing. Elrod was a member of the student chapter of the American Advertising Federation and worked with The Crimson White. The university helped prepare Elrod to find her first, post-grad position by providing the platform for her to be flexible and think independently.
When asked if she could redo her undergraduate experience, what would she do differently, Elrod said, “I would develop even more professor relationships, take advantage of areas within the college to help me understand how to approach a business, build my brand and learn through as many hands-on experiences as possible.”
Throughout her time as an A+PR student, Elrod was inspired by several professors in the college. Elrod credits Dr. Bruce Roche, Dr. Marian Huttenstine and Dr. John Planchon for teaching her valuable lessons for success by allowing her to work alongside them.
What does the future hold for Elrod? She hopes to grow marketing for Regions to be data-driven and more agile. In addition to these goals, she hopes to develop a successor for her role. Outside of the office, Elrod plans to pursue board membership opportunities in order to serve the local community and to continue mentoring young professionals.
By Alana Doyle