Eva Neumann is the President and CEO of ENC Strategy, a full-service marketing communications firm. The company has been a major player in the government industry for 20 years and Neumann has been recognized as a top CEO and leader. The executive has published numerous articles and has spoken for organizations, including The Federal Marketing Summit, Public CIO, Washington Technology, The American Marketing Association and George Washington University, among others.
Neumann spoke to WashingtonExec and talked about how she started ENC Strategy, qualities she looks for in hiring top talent, mobility, the current trends in the industry and advice to up and coming entrepreneurs.
WashingtonExec: Can you tell us a little about your background and why you started ENC Strategy?
Eva Neumann: I started ENC because I love marketing, solving problems, being creative and working with really smart people. My background is in marketing technology products to government agencies; back in the days when PC and software companies were competing for market share and dominance. It was an exciting time in technology because of all the new solutions that enabled government to achieve more. I loved being part of communicating to government about technological solutions and how they provided value to internal or external agency stakeholders.
WashingtonExec: ENC Strategy is a full-service strategic communication firm. What role does mobility play into what your firm does?
Eva Neumann: We’re a service company, and we need to be able to respond to customers’ needs outside of a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. timeframe, so we offer flexible hours. Although we encourage employees to work in the office in order to build teamwork, our employees are enabled for remote work – it’s part of our culture. Friday is an official telework day, although some people still prefer to work in the office or need to attend client meetings. The investment in remote access has paid off. Our employees are agile, mobile and flexible to our customers’ needs because of it. We don’t, by any means, cut corners on the level of collaboration that’s necessary to be creative, but we also don’t waste time if there’s a way to be more responsive to the customer.
“Being an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding, allows you to create a values-based organization and enables you to do the kind of work that you really like to do”
WashingtonExec: ENC has been around 20 years – what might people not have learned about you or the company that they should know by now?
Eva Neumann: I think people associate us with the commercial IT market and working with the public sector groups from those companies to help sell to government, because we’re one of the most-experienced marketing firms in that space. But a lot of people don’t know that we also hold contracts with government agencies and that the government itself actually does a lot of outreach, both internally and externally. We work with agencies such as the Small Business Association (SBA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Defense (DOD), NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) — to help them communicate about the services they provide to citizens and to improve customer service. What some also may not know about us is that we work with associations. They need to be able to communicate the value of the benefits they provide or why their organization is worth joining. I should also note that ENC transitioned well into the digital age — we work on a lot of .gov, commercial and association websites and social media, and we designed the user interface for several online tools and e-learning initiatives.
WashingtonExec: What are the current trends in your industry? Growth areas?
Eva Neumann: Clearly, the mobile web, social media and e-commerce have changed the way we communicate. They’ve caused a change in people’s expectations for customer service and the ability to find information quickly online. In addition, limited resources are forcing government to change from its role as an information provider to an enabler of self-service. Our association and commercial market customers are seeing the same drivers — decreasing budgets and customers who demand instant service.
WashingtonExec: What are the top qualities you look for in an employee of which those looking for jobs in this market should be aware?
Eva Neumann: I look for evidence that the person fits with ENC’s culture. So, I don’t just look at their experience — that’s table stakes. The candidates we hire must also demonstrate a positive, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial and customer-focused attitude. They must be a team player and have a history of intellectual curiosity. They’ve been involved with giving back to the community. They are able to demonstrate tenacity, attention to detail and — a sense of humor.
WashingtonExec: Your firm is a woman-owned small business. The company has been recognized by Working Mother magazine as a best place to work, and as CEO, you have been awarded with multiple awards, including the Women in Technology Founder’s and President’s awards. Do you have any advice to women entrepreneurs in the industry?
Eva Neumann: Being an entrepreneur can be extremely rewarding, allows you to create a values-based organization and enables you to do the kind of work that you really like to do. As for tips and tricks, I’d say go with your gut. I’ve learned that my first instinct is usually right, and that gives me the confidence to make the tough decisions. Finally, I’d suggest that any entrepreneur develop a network by participating, face-to-face, in industry or community organizations. Tap the network to find business and service providers (accountants, lawyers, office space).
WashingtonExec: You’ve been active in AFFIRM, WIT, the Women’s Center and the Industry Advisory Council. Why is it important for you to participate in these organizations?
Eva Neumann: I’ve met some wonderful people who have become lasting friends and business colleagues. I also like working with a team of people to make a difference in the community by pooling our resources to help good causes.
WashingtonExec: What was the last good book you’ve read?
Eva Neumann: “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. A totally fascinating book, especially since I was in the technology market when Apple first marketed the Macintosh computer. I knew people who began their careers at Apple, and I remember their sense of pride and our discussions about the company’s unique culture.
WashingtonExec: Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Greater Washington area?
Eva Neumann: The Irish Inn in Glen Echo, Md.