Nina Kopetka Q&A

April 5, 2022
Nina Kopetka discovered project management while running her college newspaper.

“I have a journalism degree and was running the campus newspaper my last two years of college. I found that I was doing little writing, but was thriving on managing the staff and the operations of the paper. So basically, I was a project manager, I just didn’t know what that was at the time. When I started in the industry, not every agency embraced project management. It was a new discipline at the time, and we were at the tail end of calling it “traffic.” I remember getting asked “what do you want to be” a lot, because people didn’t understand that project management was an actual career path, rather than a stepping stone.”

 

You have worked at some of the most vibrant marketing agencies in the country. What is one thing top shops have in common? 

Amazing people. Our industry, and our city in particular has some of the most amazingly creative, hard-working, interesting people I’ve ever met. It’s one big reason that I still count some of my former coworkers as my good friends.

What originally attracted you to marketing as a career? What do love most about it today? 

I actually kind of fell into it. I have a journalism degree and was running the campus newspaper my last two years of college. I found that I was doing little writing, but was thriving on managing the staff and the operations of the paper. So basically, I was a project manager, I just didn’t know what that was at the time. When I started in the industry, not every agency embraced project management. It was a new discipline at the time, and we were at the tail end of calling it “traffic.” I remember getting asked “what do you want to be” a lot, because people didn’t understand that project management was an actual career path, rather than a stepping stone.

Today, I’ve been able to evolve myself from a project manager to an integrated producer. I still love it because no project is the same, I get to build relationships with my coworkers as well as vendor partners, and continue to troubleshoot creative ways to solve whatever comes my way.

What is one of the campaigns you’ve worked that you think of fondly?

When I was at Olson, I was able to work on the “I’m In” campaign for the New Orleans Hornets. This campaign was to introduce the Hornets to New Orleans, as they moved the team there from Charlotte. I was able to project manage the late John Olson and learned quickly how to roll with the punches, and just watch a genius at work, while still making our deadlines. We had a small team for this campaign, and we all wore multiple hats to get to the finish line. It was the first time in my career that I worked with celebrities, and celeb handlers. It was so stressful, but so dang fun.

You graduated from Bemidji State University. What is one thing we should know about Bemidji that we don’t know? 

If it wasn’t for the underground tunnels from the dorms to the classrooms, I would have probably flunked out.

You performed at a Super Bowl Halftime Show, which puts you in esteemed company. Do you have other dance highlights? 

I danced competitively from the age of 3 to 23, so there were a lot of highlights, as well as a lot of weird. We performed at everything from grocery store grand openings, to weddings, and of course the 1992 Super Bowl. When I was a kid, I performed on a local Sunday morning variety show called Discoverama, where we won the grand prize of a $250 savings bond and 100 White Castle hamburgers. Oh, and a T-shirt that said, “I discovered Discoverama and White Castle.” Man, I really wish I still had that shirt. I also auditioned for Star Search multiple times but never made the cut.

You do a lot of work in the community with non-profits. Why is this important to you? 

I’ve lived a blessed life, and realized over the years how important it is to give back to causes that are important to me. I think my volunteerism really started as my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She lived with the disease for a decade and during that time I started volunteering with the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. I’m a huge animal lover, and also pride myself on being a super aunt so as my niece and nephew got to the ages where they could participate in the Rescue Readers program at Animal Humane Society, I took them to read to the animals. It was a special activity for us, as well as the animals. Most recently in 2017 a childhood friend started the ShineALigh7 Foundation that helps kids and teens with mental health issues. I was one of the people who helped him get the foundation off the ground, and still volunteer on the marketing team, as well as events. These are all issues that will always be part of who I am as a person, and I’m proud to give my time for the causes.

If you could go to coffee with one person in history, who would it be? 

Prince.