Our second Alumni Spotlight for the month of October is Peyton Callanan who is the Marketing Manager at 360 Smart Networks, and is a graduate of Effingham County High School (2010) and of Georgia Southern University (2014). Peyton strongly believes that having a mentor you count on and who gives good advice and constructive criticism plays a very important role in one’s professional success. Read on to find out more on what she has learned about leadership and how 21CL influenced her career direction.

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now.

I am the marketing manager for a boutique IT company that provides IT solutions including security, backup, support and special projects to small and medium businesses in Metro Atlanta. I help generate leads for our sales team by managing our website, branding, advertising, social media, email and direct mail campaigns, and creating content for our blog.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

21st Century Leaders exposed me to a wide variety of career paths and gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from professionals in those fields. It also helped build my confidence and motivated me to go after the career I wanted.

And how did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

I went to high school in a pretty rural area. 21st Century Leaders was one of the first experiences I had connecting and collaborating with other ambitious students outside of my small circle of friends. I was inspired by the time I spent working with and learning from the other students, especially ones from different backgrounds I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

That experience made the transition into college less jarring. It also motivated me to join student organizations so I could be involved on campus and meet new people.

Which programs did you participate in, and when?

I did Leadership Unplugged (now known as the Turner Voices Youth Media Institute) in 2009.

What was a memorable or ‘aha’ moment in 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional, etc.?)

I have two!

Prior to attending Leadership Unplugged, I thought I was going to major in journalism in college. There was a marketing panel that week that really sparked my interest and led me to consider that as a career path. I don’t remember exactly what the panelists said, but I do remember hearing one man explain his career and thinking, “that’s what I want to do and I never had the words for it before.”

I came back as part of the Summer Leadership Team right after I graduated college. During the leadership dinner at Earthcare, all of the panelists agreed unanimously that having a mentor they could count on to give them good advice and constructive criticism played a huge role in their professional success. That always stuck with me as I began my own career after college. I am very appreciative of the guidance my mentors have given me and how that has shaped me as a person.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader today, how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

I am a big believer in teamwork and collaboration. My summer leadership program was one of the first experiences I had collaborating on a project with peers and the memory of being proud of what we had created together really stuck with me.

Recently, I realized that you have lead by example because you never know who you have an impact on. I am striving to be more generous with my time, kind with my words and confident in my work.