Paula Olaya, Staying Independent
Paula Olaya joined Hylink Group in 2023 as a Public Relations Manager. Born and raised in Bogota, Colombia, she moved to Los Angeles with the world ahead of her. She has explored various opportunities in different industries, from getting a degree in Industrial Engineering to working in the entertainment industry.
I was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. In Colombia, I attended the same private school my whole life and later went to boarding school for a year in the United Kingdom. After boarding school, I moved back to Colombia and studied at the University of the Andes, where I majored in Industrial Engineering with a focus on corporate strategy.
Once I finished college, I didn’t exactly know what to do next.
I’ve always been adventurous, which got me thinking about all the places I could move to. Bogota is a very cold city, and it rains a lot. I knew I wanted to be near the ocean and find a career that I was passionate about, which at the time was entertainment. This led me to move to Los Angeles.
When I first moved to the US from Colombia, I made many decisions I didn’t necessarily think through. I followed my instincts and was much more fearless about my decisions.
I was able to move to the US through a student visa. I got accepted to UCLA, where I attended a certification program for entertainment. My sister was also accepted to a program at UCLA, so we traveled and moved to Los Angeles together.
The move to the United States was a learning experience. However, going to school was helpful. I found a lot of people who were in the same boat as me, which allowed me to meet a lot of people and create lasting friendships. I never felt alone. However, it did come with its challenges. I had to figure out how to be an adult. I needed to figure out where to live and how to pay for rent. But it did help me get out of my comfort zone.
I started my career in the entertainment industry. I originally didn’t have a clear idea of what I would do in the entertainment space. And because I didn’t have much experience, I started taking up a lot of internships. My last internship was for a PR Agency for US Hispanics, which later became my full-time job. This PR Agency catered to the U.S. Hispanic market, primarily for entertainment brands. When I joined, I was a part of their entertainment team. Because I also speak Spanish, I was able to connect well with the team and the agency. There, I was able to work on entertainment accounts such as Telemundo, Universal Studios, Warner Brothers, HBO, Lionsgate, Sony, etc. This ultimately allowed me to join and attend multiple press junkets and red-carpet events.
However, I originally got my degree in a completely different field.
When I first got my degree in Industrial Engineering, I never really saw myself as someone who would work in this industry. I always felt I had a more artistic and creative side that made me want to discover. The industrial engineering industry brought out more of my technical side. I knew how to be more organized and how to be a problem solver.
Because I was in the U.S. under a student visa, I needed to find a job after graduating from my program at UCLA. I had one year of OPT, or optional practical training, where I can work legally in the United States. I had a lot of fun learning about the entertainment industry and was determined to get a job in the industry.
I was never really a good communicator. Communication can often be undermined and understated, though it is an important skill to have in the professional world. Switching careers has allowed me to become a good communicator and to learn how things happen because of communication.
I had the opportunity to service other clients outside of entertainment. One of my biggest clients was Amazon, specifically Amazon devices and services. This was completely different from entertainment, and I enjoyed it. This was more of a business-focused industry, and I am interested in the more analytical side of business.
I was in my past job for five years, and at that point, it was a good idea for me to explore new opportunities. That is where I found Hylink when I was looking and applying for jobs.
The company was very interesting because it is a Chinese company that moved to the United States. Many people who worked at this company had a similar background in that they were international people trying to build a career. I had a lot of commonalities with people in this company, especially considering they also have an office in Bogota.
At Hylink, I’ve enjoyed growing my team and having personable relationships, allowing me to learn more about them and their contributions to the company. I like helping people find what they are good at.
I also enjoy being able to work alongside our office in Bogota. I have gained a new sense of community that I have never felt before.
Day in My Life
As a Public Relations manager for Hylink, a day in my life at Hylink varies every day. Though challenging, seeing the growth of the Public Relations sector at Hylink is exciting.
I help with any news, press relations, and editorials. I mainly focus on managing Hylink’s presence and keeping track of our coverage. I look at how people perceive the company. I also organize and look for events. Under events, I look at what industry events to go to and client industry events to attend. I am also looking at awards to submit for Hylink. Advertising agencies rely heavily on awards. Awards contribute to part of their reputation. I also focus on our owned media (i.e., website content and social media).
In my free time, I focus a lot on my fitness goals. I work out 5-6 times a week. I have focused a lot on working because it helps me manage my stress.
Recently, I have been finding time to also focus on my mental health and personal relationships. I feel recharged in social interactions, so I spend much time with my friends. I also like going to the beach and being around nature.
I enjoy having a lot of responsibilities. I like being told to prepare the agenda and lead the call.
I had very fond moments of having Amazon as a client. Though it was a lot of work and was challenging, I had a lot of responsibility. For example, one of my projects was doing a press tour in three different cities: Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. We had a very small budget but had to do a tour on the Amazon devices. I coordinated the whole thing, and we had to find ways to have the media visit us to learn about the products. My team and I were able to get 20 people per city.
Another moment that I was extremely proud of was being able to work on the Barbie movie, where I was helping with PR for the film where I attended a few press junkets. Being in a room near Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling was an amazing experience. Now, the Barbie movie holds a special place in my heart.
Now, coming to Hylink and having a world of opportunities, I am very lucky.
One of the biggest challenges for me was juggling both work and school at the same time. I did not feel like I had a lot of breaks and was overwhelmed at some times. However, I kept telling myself to do things and to make things happen. I was constantly motivating myself and pushing myself to be able to finish my goals.
During the pandemic, I developed an autoimmune disease. There was a question about whether I would return to Colombia, but I did not want to leave Los Angeles. I eventually learned to “bite the bullet.” I was determined to continue working and achieve my career goals. My relationships were also very encouraging and helped me get through a stressful point of my life.
One of my pet peeves about management is when managers don’t work on themselves before managing others. As individuals, we all have different biases, insecurities, and ways of doing things. I observe things about myself and learn from my past mistakes.
I also took a lot of advice from my mom. She’s a director of operations and finance for a hospital. She puts a lot of emphasis on working towards her personal growth. She would meditate for 6 months straight, and it helped her manage her emotions. She told me that managing her emotions through meditation allows her to become the best leader.
When I look to manage people and a team, I look to work on myself first. For example, if I am correcting something or giving feedback, I ask myself if I am doing this because I like this way better or if this person is simply doing things the correct way. Things can be very subjective, which causes me to think about growth and biases.
I also best manage a team by finding what everyone is good at. Some people are more analytical, and some are more creative. When I find what people are good at, I find things they enjoy and cause them to challenge themselves.
Being a good leader is a lifelong journey as you grow professionally. I will always learn things and try to be more communicative as a leader.
Focus on the little things that will make you a better professional. Learn to make strong relationships with people and how you present yourself in the industry. The earlier you start to improve on these aspects, the faster you can grow.