HPW’s Inspiring Women series profiles remarkable Greek-American professional women whose stories of success inspire and encourage us to achieve our own career goals and aspirations.
Senior V.P. at Hotwire, Founder of RemotePRJobs, PR Author for LinkedIn Learning
Andrea Holland is a tech PR entrepreneur. Over the last 16 years, Andrea has managed PR teams for some of the biggest brands in consumer technology, including Intuit, PayPal and Visa. In 2014, she started her own consultancy, working with early stage startups and in 2016 was asked to be a PR author/instructor for LinkedIn Learning where she created PR courses for entrepreneurs and universities worldwide. She’s also the Founder of RemotePRJobs, the nations’ leading remote jobs site for PR and Comms professionals and currently a Senior Vice President at Hotwire Global Communications, running the PR teams for GoPro, eBay and Peloton. Her mother’s family is from Chania, Crete and she’s an avid traveler, coffee drinker, fitness enthusiast and podcast listener.
Contributor: Frederica Bolgouras
What motivated you to pursue a career in PR and Global Communications?
In 2005, I was at the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying Sociology, Religious Studies and Music. While I enjoyed all three, I did not have a clear purview into what I wanted to do. It was my Panhellenic Sorority (Gamma Phi Beta) that got me interested in PR/Communications. I was extremely involved as the Recruitment VP, Public Relations VP, Social Chair and more, and I enjoyed it. Upon graduation I thought “I’m good at this – maybe a career in PR is for me.” We had a family friend who helped me get an internship at a top firm in San Francisco, and the first 9 years of my career were spent with agencies, supporting top tech companies. At 29, I decided to quit and start my own PR practice, which I ran for nearly a decade (amongst other various startup ventures) before moving to NYC and taking a role as a Senior Vice President at a PR/Communications consultancy, supporting global tech companies.
Who has inspired you the most in your life?
This is always a tough question, but my YiaYia has always been one that has inspired me to be the best I can be. She’s a fiery Cretan woman born in the wrong era. A woman, who given different life circumstances and timing, could have experienced and achieved more than she was able to. She often tells me that I’m living the life she wished she could have (to which I respond “you’ve lived an amazing life and the life you were meant to live – we would not be here without the choices you made!) But from her, I get my fire and resilience. From her, I get my sense of adventure but also my stubbornness. And from her, I get my love of adventure. I recognize how lucky I am to live in a time where women are able to achieve nearly anything and given the sacrifices that she had to make, it’s important for me to try and live my life to my full potential.
Tell me about a few of your most proud accomplishments
I’m proud that I am brave enough to dream, determined enough to have adventure and strong enough to stand on my own as a woman through times of resilience and pain. In 2010, I ran the original Athens Marathon. It was incredibly special, given the location and historical gravity that it held. It also showed me the level of physical and emotional endurance, strength and resilience that I was capable of. I’m also proud that I built and ran multiple businesses for nearly a decade. I’m proud of the adventuring that I have done through parts of Western Europe and all over Southeast Asia which helped me to develop a strong sense of self, and most recently, I’m proud of myself for fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to NYC.
What impact has your Greek heritage had on your aspiring career?
My great grandfather Marinos arrived at Ellis Island in 1909 with a handful of change in his pocket and a job in coal mines across the country in Wyoming. He did not know English. He arrived alone, leaving his entire family in Crete. I learned later that his immigration to the U.S. was not easy, and it took him over a decade to get naturalized due to so many complications. He was resilient. He took a chance at a new life for himself — and all of the future generations that would follow him.
When I think of my immigrant great grandfather in the coal mines, my first generation grandfather driving taxis around San Francisco and starting his own lock and key business to make ends meet to support his family and then, my mother who was the first to go to college, I see a thru-line of builders, creators and dreamers. I see a family of those who sacrificed for the greater good of their families to start a legacy. And in my own way, it’s important for me to continue that. I owe it to them to make something of myself, for everything they sacrificed that allows me to be where I am. Having Greek heritage gives me roots. It provides me a sense of identity. It connects me to something bigger than myself. The impact of that alone drives me every day to be the best possible version of myself.
Are you involved with the Greek community?
I was extremely involved in the Greek Community in California (in the Bay Area growing up at Ascension, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles). I have always been an active member of my church parish, leader within YAL, and looking forward to what ministries and activities I can get involved with in the greater NYC area.
Given the COVID pandemic, how are you handling the stress this has caused and which wellness and coping exercises and mechanisms would you recommend?
For the first 8 months of quarantine, my daily routine was to wake up, make a cup of coffee and go walk for at least 45 minutes around my neighborhood. It was my time to process, breathe, move and ultimately, create structure within the emotional chaos we all were experiencing. I used the time to reflect on where I was at in my life and what I was doing (and ultimately, made changes that I was always fearful to make – like move across the country!) When I was feeling scared, lonely or defeated, I would often turn to movement, breath work, journaling and clean eating, and would recommend those as coping mechanisms to anyone.
Given the changing landscape and your leadership skills with LinkedIn On-Line learning and remote work today, what advice would you give to aspiring women in pursuit of a career in PR/Communications and Technology?
Join communities of like minded women! Whatever it is in life, if you want to make a change before jump starting, surround yourself with people who are doing what you aspire to be doing. With the remote work environment, it’s easier than ever to join virtual groups, meet ups and connect with people. LinkedIn is an amazing tool, as is Instagram. The world is truly flat in the sense that you can access literally anyone and anything. Send the introduction note. Slide into the DM’s of the person you wish to meet. What’s the worst that can happen?
What is your passion?
Psychology. I love learning about human behavior – why people do what they do, what triggers reactions, how environmental lenses are created and more. One of the best investments I ever made for myself was a 6-month life coaching program. Two of my favorite topics were on neuroplasticity and positive psychology and things I’ve learned have made their way into my work in counseling executives, my personal relationships and most importantly, my relationship with myself.
Please feel free to add any advice that comes to mind which we have not covered.
Start the business.
Talk to the guy.
Go to therapy.
Tell your parents you love them.
Eat the ice cream.
Go to the party.
Wear the dress.
Don’t take things personally.
Say yes to adventure. If there’s anything this last year has taught us, is that life is valuable – and it can be short.
Who has inspired you in your career? Let us know at email@example.com