Rauxa’s Founder and CEO Talks the Power of Mentorship and the Importance of Transparency

Gina Alshuler said Jill Gwaltney 'really took me under her wing'

Gina Alshuler and Jill Gwaltney, co-founders of Rauxa Rauxa
Headshot of Diana Pearl

At the country’s largest female-run agency, mentorship isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a company principle.

Gina Alshuler, the company’s president and CEO, knows that firsthand. She started at Rauxa just out of college, working as a receptionist at the front desk. Not even two decades later, she’s at the helm of the company. That’s thanks in large part to her relationship with Rauxa’s founder Jill Gwaltney, who served as a mentor to her, particularly during her early years with Rauxa.

“Jill really took me under her wing and taught me not just about marketing, but how to be savvy in business,” Alshuler told Adweek. “She’s taught me a lot of what she has learned from her dad, those pearls of wisdom passed down around about how to run a business, attract and maintain talent and how to take care of clients.”

Gwaltney said that Alshuler’s rise to the top of Rauxa is a great example of the priority the company places on mentorship with all its employees. “We’re very open with feedback, we want people to grow, we want them to have the opportunity to do their very best work, so we’re very into establishing mentorship programs and aligning them with their strengths,” she told Adweek.

That empathy and connection with others isn’t just within the agency, Gwaltney said. It helps improve their client relationships, too. Gwaltney adds that it’s a skill that’s heightened due to the fact that the agency is female-owned and run.

“As women, we have an advantage in the empathy and the compassion category,” she said. “Really getting under what customers need and truly helping them, and same with our employees, is a real differentiator.”

Crafting the right team is key for the agency, which sees itself as a one-stop-shop for its clients, serving them in everything from digital to customer relationships. Besides empathy, Gwaltney said they seek to prioritize transparency, too—not only between clients and Rauxa, but also within Rauxa itself, among its employees.

“Our employees, our customers, they know everything,” she said. “We’re all in this together, we want our customers to succeed, so we’re super transparent about everything. What do we do, what worked, what didn’t work—how do we make it better? We battle through together.”

“We are over-the-top transparent, with our clients and our employees,” added Alshuler, explaining that this translates into celebrating successes, as well as acknowledging missteps. “We disclose everything. If a campaign isn’t working, we’re willing to face tough stuff.”

What allows that transparency to develop, Alshuler continued, is a committed focus on the talent itself—the people they hire at Rauxa to bring their client’s visions to life. “It comes down to the 275 people that carry a Rauxa business card in their pocket,” she said. “We hire, attract and retain talent that is so focused on the customer. We screen for focus on who can hang within our culture and be customer-first, above and beyond anything else. And that really does make us special.”

And as the largest female-owned agency in the country, Rauxa’s ability to attract the talent that has the right voice for the company is at a sweet spot.

“There’s a moment in time right now,” said Alshuler. “More people are willing to listen, and more people are willing to speak up. It’s awesome that we have this moment, especially where, more than ever, we can lead, because we are the largest women-owned ad agency in the U.S.”

@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.