Meet Eileen Gannon
(’91 MBA), senior vice president of corporate communications and investor relations at Workiva
Those who visit the business known as “the Google of Ames” may notice the Workiva Sustainability Report on the coffee table in the lobby. The first line reads, “Workiva is built for the way people want to work today.”
It’s a message from CEO Matthew Rizai, and continues with the company philosophy of giving employees the flexibility to achieve a genuine work-life balance.
That’s not the image most people get when they pick up a company sustainability report. However, it’s an important part of the Workiva image. It’s a big job overseeing the corporate brand of Workiva, but someone’s got to do it. That someone is Eileen Gannon, an Iowa State University graduate whose career has been filled with a variety of impressive and unique qualifications.
Before joining Workiva in 2012, Gannon worked as a vice president at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management for nearly 15 years. She wrote dozens of articles and produced six TV pilots on personal finance. She was previously a freelance editor and writer at Ink Publishing, and director of finance and publications for the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. She has used her public relations skills to help several charities, including Variety – The Children’s Charity, Chrysalis Foundation, Blue Ribbon Foundation, and Rock in Prevention.
Her education includes a bachelor’s degree in ag journalism and an MBA, both from Iowa State. She is also a certified investment management analyst from the University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School.
Gannon’s focus at Workiva is on strategic corporate communications and investor relations. She has created award-winning campaigns and built teams that deliver high performance and exceptional results. In 2016, she was named to PR News’ annual Top Women in PR list. That national list recognizes women who have made bold advances in managing crises, developing messages, protecting and building brand reputations, and creating exceptional content throughout their careers.
Born and raised in Mingo, Iowa, Gannon is also well known for her award-winning baked goods, many of which are blue ribbon winners at the Iowa State Fair.
Q: Earning a master of business administration (MBA) is a valuable asset in today’s global business world, even at a time when some universities are ending their full-time MBA programs. How has it been beneficial to your career to have an Iowa State MBA?
A: During my MBA, I was fascinated with failure analysis. To be successful, you really need to understand what patterns and behaviors lead to failure. My MBA also taught me a way to solve problems. When I am faced with a complicated problem, I solve it by breaking it down into pieces and finding methods to accomplish each piece. That’s one key process that my MBA taught me, which I use every day.
Q: What career accomplishments make you most proud?
A: In less than six years at Workiva, my team and I have won 14 awards for corporate communications, public relations, and
investor relations, including me being named a Top Woman in PR from PR News and a Finalist for a Platinum PR Award for Best Financial and Investor Relations for the Workiva IPO.
Q: What advice would you give to business alumni who are early in their careers?
A: My advice is to find a mentor or two who can coach you along the way. The best mentors are people whom you aspire to be. No matter how busy they are, they will find time to help you if you ask.
Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I have won more than 500 awards for baking and cooking, and I have competed in national cooking shows on the Food Network and Discovery Channel. Also, I’m the youngest of 14 children. Nine of us graduated from Iowa State.
– By Michele Appelgate