Meet the Rising 25 Class of 2018: Alex Perna

1. Tell Us About Yourself and Your Current Role

In late December, I took on the role of Manager of Communications at Golin working primarily on the Toyota Racing account. This account covers a variety of racing series and other sports including NASCAR, IMSA, Olympics and Paralympics, Formula Drift and assists with NHRA.

My primary role focuses on media relations and working NASCAR and Olympic and Paralympic events. Our role for NASCAR includes attending all races and providing at-track communications support for all of Toyota’s drivers. We coordinate interviews with drivers and provide race reports of how each driver does as well as include quotes for stories. We have a similar role with the Olympics and Paralympics where we attend the events and help support athletes in the way we can. A big project of mine this year has been working with media that normally wouldn’t attend a racing event and hosting them to give the writers the ‘Toyota Experience’ – which has been one of the parts of the role I get a lot of joy from.

Outside of that, we also work on special projects. We pride ourselves on being different. Some of the special projects we’ve worked on this year have included crossover promotions with Toyota drivers and other Toyota partnering sports such as Olympic and Paralympic athletes, professional sports teams in other leagues (MLB/NFL). We’ve also have produced from start to finish some amazing videos on social of our drivers learning other racing series such as one of our NASCAR drivers and Formula Drift driver teaching each other how to drive their separate race cars.

Our motto with our team is no idea is ever out of the question but to fall in love with the process and enjoy every step of the way. We’re always learning and growing. For us, the small stuff is the big stuff.

2. Where do you see yourself in 15 years/dream job?

I live my dream every day I wake up and get to work in this industry. It’s hard to call what we do work. There’s nothing like this industry and I never take any of this for granted. We are all lucky to be here and I am reminded of that every time I show up to a sporting venue to “work” or a racetrack.

In 15 years, I will be 40-years-old. My hope for that timeframe is to have developed enough skills to lead a team. Some of the best people I have met in this industry are exceptional leaders and that’s what I strive to be. Their visions and ability to see the big picture are what make them great.

I hope in 15 years I will be skilled enough to do that. The important thing to remember is leaders aren’t born overnight and it takes years of experience and developing a strong enough mindset to take something like that on.

3. Who is your mentor at this point?

This is incredibly difficult to answer. In my four years in this industry, I have met so many people who have taught me some life lessons that I will take with me forever. The amazing part of that is it’s been people who are in my age range, executives, interns, you name it.

The one person who has had a profound influence on my life inside the office and out of it is Eric Nyquist. Eric works for NASCAR and is an executive vice president of strategic development. Every time I get the chance to spend with Eric, I leave that conversation feeling like I have discovered secrets to success.

When I met Eric a couple of years ago, I was blown away by one thing. His kindness. He made time for me like I was an old friend and I met him a few minutes prior. One of the most amazing things about him is he is one of the most impressive people in this industry. He’s worked for the NFL, the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls and now has been with NASCAR for the last several years.

He currently wears and has worn so many hats for all of these organizations and has a century of experience that he is willing to share with me that helps me see things so clearly. He helps me see what’s truly important in life and how I can be better in all areas of it.

I can happily also say that there have been a few other people that have helped me get to where I am and I wouldn’t be here without. Lisa Hughes Kennedy (Golin), Laura Finley (Golin), Stephanie Harris (NASCAR), Tom Bryant (NASCAR) and Matt Humphrey (NASCAR) have all gone to bat for me in more ways than I can count are not only tremendous at what they do but are great friends as well.

4. What’s one thing you’ve learned early in your career that you didn’t know until you started working in the industry?

There are so many things that I’ve learned in this industry that I didn’t know or really understand until I entered it. The first is you never know who is watching you work. Always know you’re “on-camera” if you will. Always put in 110 percent every day. Know whenever your name is a part of something – there should be an accountability that you own that someone else is going to see. If you produce great work and have a great attitude of respect and humility along the way, people will take notice of that. The second if I can add one is treat people with kindness. Some of the most impressive people in the sports industry are also some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Treat everyone with kindness and it will change your own perspectives.

5. What does winning the Rising 25 Award mean to you?

Being a part of this group is incredibly humbling. When the list was sent around of who the 25 were – it was amazing to see what other people in this age group are accomplishing. I am thankful for FOS to organize this group and the judges who dedicated their time to review all of the applicants. I know there were a ton of nominees that were worthy of this and are doing some incredible work in their own spaces. Something I am really looking forward to is being a part of this 2018 class and being forever linked with these professionals.