2022 Women in Print and Promo: Tracy Flanagan, GO2 Partners
GO2 Partners, Kansas City, Missouri
Being promoted to associate partner of GO2 Partners’ Kansas City office in 2015 and full partner four years later was a special moment for Tracy Flanagan. But the responsibility weighs heavy. That’s because Flanagan is just one of four women with this job title at the employee-owned company.
As Flanagan tells it, she never strived to be a partner. She wanted to be heard. To their credit, the management team listened.
“I pointed out that the managing partners were isolated in their thought process because a high percentage of the partners served as salespeople,” Flanagan related. “Shortly after, a change was made, inviting more diversity in roles to sit at the table. Other than C-level employees, Dana Kaczmarski [partner and director of administration] and I were [among] the first non-salespeople to sit at the partners table at GO2.”
Flanagan’s history-making print career almost didn’t happen. Like many college students, she had trouble picturing her professional future. Flanagan considered herself a people person and a skilled problem-solver. She also knew she wanted an opportunity that challenged her in new ways. For Flanagan, print checked those boxes, so she enrolled in a print technology management program at University of Central Missouri (then known as Central Missouri State University).
It was the perfect foundation for her first job as a customer service representative in the franchise sales division of Henry Wurst. As a CSR, Flanagan managed online orders and worked with a team to create gang runs. From there, she transitioned to the variable data department, where she built VDP templates for that same online ordering system, before accepting an account manager role.
Flanagan loved her time at Henry Wurst, but behind the scenes, the industry was changing. She didn’t realize it at the time, though she did believe her impact was limited at her current employer. That’s when she interviewed for a CSR position with GO2 Partners, a distributorship with an intriguing company structure.
Flanagan said it was a lateral move, but GO2 Partners’ team-first mentality allowed her to make a positive mark on various projects. In addition to fielding customer calls and selecting suppliers, she had a part in developing quality processes and an RFP tool, and implementing a culture committee.
Flanagan’s internal contributions are plenty substantial, but as her nominator pointed out, they are not to be overshadowed by her “desire to help provide outstanding client experiences — whether that’s through a printed piece, branded merchandise or a digital solution.”
“I would say I have grown from executing the solution to brainstorming and presenting the solution,” said Flanagan, who has since become an expert in the laboratory and medical verticals. “I love what I do, but I am so thankful for the people I get to do it with.”
Her Proudest Career Achievement
I think I am most proud of my influence on technology at GO2 Partners. When I first started, GO2’s technology offerings included a mediocre e-commerce system with little to no variable data. Today, GO2 has an incredible team delivering one of the best technology offerings in the industry.
At a previous company where I worked, both in the internet sales division and in the variable data division, I had familiarity as to what was possible. I shared this knowledge with leaders at GO2 and worked with them to justify technology hires and investments. Our technology solutions are scalable and extremely flexible to meet our customers’ needs. Likely more valuable to our clients than any application is the data our clients have at their fingertips, providing insight for crucial decisions.
On Working in a Traditionally Male-Dominated Industry
Being in a male-dominated industry can be intimidating. However, I am lucky enough to work for a company that values everyone’s ideas and thoughts. One of my biggest allies can be found in Steve Palma. Oftentimes, his support carried my message farther than I could have carried it by myself. Trust your allies — they want you to succeed.
Who Inspires Her
If you would have asked me this five years ago, I would have said my mentors. I was inspired to match their accomplishments and work ethic. I was driven to be better than I was yesterday. But today, I find my drive from a younger generation. I look at my nieces and find myself working hard to prove to them what is possible.
Her Job Advice to Women
Go for it and never look back. The print industry is ever-changing and a lot of fun. I think a large part of my success is because I spoke up and asked questions. So many women wait to be invited to the conversation. An invite is nice, but not necessary. Before the invite, be active. Be active by asking good questions to your co-workers, your boss and other leaders in your company. Learn as much as you can about the conversations before you are ever invited.
Her Biggest Lesson Learned
Be yourself. People appreciate authenticity and recognize when it is not there.
Her Upcoming Goals
Every time I set my computer password, I incorporate one of my goals. It helps me keep my focus. My most recent goal is to grow in the packaging market. The need is there and by growing my category offering, I will be more valuable to my clients.
What She Wants People to Know About Her
I am motivated by making an impact with the people I serve, both with my co-workers at GO2 and my clients. It drives me more than anything else. In fact, I have been guilty of walking away from situations if I didn’t feel like I was making a positive difference.
How She Thinks Companies Can Attract and Retain Female Talent
If companies want to attract more female talent, they need to support and promote their current female employees. Women are watching. We want the same thing as everyone else — opportunity!
How She Recharges
That is easy: family. I have a large family and they are my world. I love family game night, springtime KC BBQs, and watching my nieces and nephews compete in everything they do. They give me energy and purpose. Besides my family, I love to take walks and listen to my favorite podcast, “Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy.”