Tracy Richards is working to align creative and other functions at Colle McVoy in the new role of creative operations director at the Minneapolis-based full-service creative agency.

Richards, whose two decades of experience includes resourcing, talent acquisition strategy and team management, leads within Colle McVoy’s creative department and provides input on best operating practices.

Her responsibilities include helping the creative team with resource management while also working with the project management team.

Richards is also identifying opportunities to integrate Colle McVoy’s creative team with Exponent PR and 10 Thousand Design, the agency’s public relations and design partners, respectively.

“The real goal of this role is to be an integrator and a uniter of some of the different areas of the businesses,” Richards said. “I’ve always been focused on both the creative and the business side.”

Richards also is active with the agency’s head of talent acquisition in hiring, capacity planning and related strategies.

“It’s the mixture of the business side, the talent development side and the people side of it,” Richards said.

Richards joins Colle McVoy from VSA Partners in Chicago, where she was vice president of talent.

Previously a senior recruiter for the Buzz Company and director of photography at Panoramic Images, Richards earned a fine-arts degree from Indiana University after switching her major from business.

“Tracy has a wealth of knowledge, experience and connections to help us staff for today and tomorrow,” Mike Caguin, Colle McVoy’s chief creative officer, said in a statement. Clients include 3M, CHS and Land O’Lakes.

Q: How does your work benefit clients?

A: One of the biggest expectations from creative leadership is helping them to get a consistency of talent on the individual brands. How can we best manage the resources to have the most knowledge of the client, people who have been on-boarded onto the client? The art and science of figuring out the right capacity planning and the right resource mix is not dividing talent too thinly across different brands. Having that right balance — and also for the creatives feeling like they have interesting work and diverse work — is really what you’re trying to solve for. If you have someone who has more experience on a brand they can work more quickly and get what the client’s looking for. The value to the client is getting the right people on the work and getting consistency and quality of work.

Q: Why are creative agencies adding roles like yours?

A: As relationships with clients continue to change and are not as long term as they once were, you definitely need somebody who is working the business side and the creative side. As the industry continues to evolve we’re all trying to figure out what’s next. So having somebody in a role that helps figure that out, that’s not 100% client focused, not 100% creative focused but more the combination will continue to grow.

Q: How much are you looking ahead to what the agency and clients need as technology and the industry change rapidly?

A: Things in the industry are becoming more nimble and needing to respond to clients quickly but also keeping the level of creativity and quality high. A role like mine is instrumental in that. It’s the adviser to the CFO and CEO so there is that strategic staffing element that helps the company respond more quickly and nimbly.


Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His e-mail is