By Rebecca McCue
Photo: Cebry enjoying the nice Columbia weather.
Alexandra Cebry, marketing director at the Columbia City Ballet, in downtown Columbia.
Sitting in her office, Alexandra Cebry thinks back to how far she has come since coming from a small town outside Toronto, Canada. As a teenager, she never would have thought she would find herself working for the Columbia City Ballet. It has been a staple in the Columbia dance world for the past 57 seasons. Cebry holds a passion for the visual arts and wandered through art galleries over the years. “This, along with my passion for giving back to the community, led me down the road to becoming the marketing director for the ballet,” Cebry said.
She began her career close to where she found her home away from home. She attended the University of South Carolina and pursued a degree in mass communications and public relations with a minor in merchandising. At USC, she joined the Alpha Delta Pi sorority and she worked her way onto the board of planning. There she learned management and event planning.
After graduating, Cebry worked as the social media marketing manager for Sole Society. She continued as social media manager for a fashion jewelry line. She changed paths a few months later and took a job as a digital media gallery manager for Ellen Taylor Interiors. Her last job before the ballet was as the marketing and public relations assistant for a lifestyle and linen company.
All these previous employers helped Cebry be set up for success at the ballet. She was able to work closely with other managers and worked with other departments that cultured her and helped her become more affluent in marketing. “We also worked with powerhouse companies such as Nordstrom which was super beneficial in learning new skills with the industry,” said Cebry. She was able to also work closely with the design team which helped her find her passion for artistic development through visual arts.
In her role at the Columbia City Ballet, Cebry manages public and media relations, social media and email marketing. She also does all the graphic design for the advertisements and programs.
Abigail Herschman, a dance minor at USC, has noticed how great the advertisements have looked for the ballet in the past few years. “I’m a hip-hop dancer mostly but for my classes I had to attend a few performances with the ballet. I’ve noticed how great all its marketing stuff has been in the past few years and definitely makes a difference since the arts are under appreciated in this day and age,” said Herschman.
On top of that, Cebry devotes her time to planning the galas that take place after popular performances such as Dracula and Cleopatra. All this she plans herself as the creates and develops the marketing plan for the entire season.
Newly hired marketing coordinator, Madison Baschoff, works closely with Cebry when it comes to the planning and implementation of the galas that the ballet hosts. Baschoff started interning with Cebry and the ballet back in 2015 and has learned a great deal from her. “I think the most important thing I have learned from Alexandra is that anything is a possibility and you are the only person that will stop it from becoming reality,” said Baschoff.
Baschoff appreciates the fact that Cebry always takes what she says into account and values her input, which can be hard to find in an entry-level positions. Baschoff also said that Cebry is a great role model for young women. “It is empowering to see a young woman be able to hold her own in conversations with corporate companies and advertisers,” said Baschoff. Cebry makes it clear what she expects in a respectful and kind way that has created great relationships throughout Columbia.
Cebry’s favorite aspect of her work is that she is in charge of the ballet’s internship program. She has always had a passion for mentorship and being able to grow and develop this program has given her a lot of joy. In her own experience, Cebry feels that universities tend to not do enough to help students find good opportunities to gain real-life tools for after graduation. “With our program, we really give them a lot of hands-on projects and opportunities so that they feel like they leave with a bunch of new skill sets and a set ahead of the competition,” said Cebry. This program is a way for her to give back and feel rewarded, which is another big reason why she chose to go into nonprofit work.
Jessica Jones is currently one of Cebry’s interns. She works closely with both Cebry and Baschoff and does a lot of work with creating press releases and social media kits. She also helps with planning of the galas. “None of the attendees know my name or who i am, they think I am just an intern but to me, being able to see the event come together and know that we did that, is something truly empowering and incredible,” said Jones. With Cebry’s guidance, she has learned to believe in herself and her work.
Cebry’s struggles include working with different generations, both in and outside the office. “It’s always a challenge to adapt to the older generations and explain how things work now compared to how they used to work,” said Cebry. There is also a different mindset when it comes to work ethic and how people approach work. She finds that some younger employees see themselves as aid workers. They help as much as they can and then when their shift is done, they leave. But with the older generation, they tend to stay until the work is done.
Cebry tackles these struggles by reading each person or situation. “I’ve learned that compromise is key and that when it comes to building relationships to get a little you also have to give a little,” said Cebry. She has learned that no matter what, every person has their flaws and strengths.
In her spare time, Cebry still tries to advance herself and career. She knows that in this industry, networking is huge and is the best way to move forward. She is a part of a group of 60 young professionals that meet once a month to learn leadership skills. “I am also a member of the Junior League in Columbia and we do a lot of community service in the community such as helping with kids education and poverty,” said Cebry.
McCue is a public relations senior.