Profile with Susan Rowe

Susan Rowe (Idaho & Magdalen 1989) is the Digital Marketing and Engagement Manager at Scentsy, Inc, a company specializing in personal and home fragrance products. She also teaches creative writing at Boise State University. She has worked in public and government relations for commercial enterprises, elected officials and the nonprofit sector. She holds an MA in PPE from the University of Oxford, an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University and a BS in Finance from the University of Idaho. She lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two teenage children.

Rhodes Project: Tell me a little bit about your current job.

Susan Rowe: I work for a company called Scentsy, Inc. We are headquartered in the United States but we also sell products in Canada, Europe, and have recently launched in Mexico and Australia. We sell fragrance products – that’s our primary product line, but in the last few years we have also launched a women’s accessories brand and a kitchen products brand. I manage the team that is responsible for the online marketing of all our brands. In addition to social media and online promotions, my team is responsible for the company’s public relations, government relations , and the corporate foundation.

Rhodes Project: How did you get involved in public relations?

Susan Rowe: I have always been a writer in some capacity, and public relations is an opportunity to tell a story that others can connect with—whether it’s a company’s story, a leader’s story, or the story behind a cause. Public relations is a natural fit for me because I’m passionate about storytelling. Sharing our stories with other people is one of the most powerful ways we connect as human beings.

Rhodes Project: What did you find most surprising about Oxford?

Susan Rowe: The friendships and relationships that I established there and what they taught me. I had never experienced such camaraderie with other students, and I think there is something about Oxford that encourages that. It was a rich part of my experience. The academics were demanding and I worked hard on my degree. But I think my worldview expanded more from the many dinner party conversations and informal chats with friends than from my course of study. For me the most surprising and wonderful thing about Oxford was the lifelong friends that I established there from all walks of life.

Rhodes Project: What’s your favorite thing about living in Idaho?

Susan Rowe: I can literally walk up the street from my home and there are foothills and vast open spaces for hiking. It’s easy to forget I live in a city because this open space is so close to my home, and I love to run outdoors. I feel like Idaho gives me everything. I have access to the arts and educational opportunities I would find in a larger metropolitan area, while at the same time I have immediate access to mountains and lakes and rivers. I also love the people of Idaho—they have an openness and authenticity that I admire. They’re not afraid to look at strangers and smile.

Rhodes Project: What would you be doing if you weren’t working for Scentsy?

Susan Rowe: I’d love to write full time. After Oxford I got an MFA in creative writing, so I do that on the side, and I teach creative writing at the local university. If I weren’t working for Scentsy I would try to make my living as a freelance writer and continue teaching creative writing.

Rhodes Project: What have you written recently?

Susan Rowe: My interest is in nonfiction, so I’m always working on essays, and I hope to get back to a memoir I wrote about my German grandparents who were immigrants to this country and homesteaded just a mile from where I grew up. They left their families and everything secure back in Germany to come to America in 1910 for a dream of owning their own land. They lived for a short while in New York, Iowa, and Texas before they took a train to Idaho where someone told them the land was good for farming, and the government was selling it cheap to anyone willing to work it. Their first home was a shack with almost nothing to protect them from Idaho’s fierce winters. I’m still amazed at how they came here with nothing and made a successful life on the land. Their courage inspires me.

Rhodes Project: What else inspires you?

Susan Rowe: In terms of my work, I’m inspired by the opportunity to mentor young women. I have a team of people who report to me, many of whom are women in their twenties. I personally found it hard to find women mentors in business, and I still think it’s a challenge. I’m mid-career now, and many of these young women are just starting out. It’s gratifying to think I can share with them some of the things I’ve learned. I make it a priority to do what I can to help them manage both their work lives and their personal lives. I want them to know that fulfillment in one does not preclude fulfillment in the other.

Outside of work, I find writing inspiring. It’s a creative process that in itself is worth doing.  Every day is a bit of a struggle to carve out some time where I can write, but when I manage it I feel deeply satisfied.

Rhodes Project: If you could travel anywhere in the world for one month, where would it be?

Susan Rowe: I would travel to Germany, and I would go to the village where my grandparents grew up. It’s a small town in northern Germany called Fischerhüde, and they were both raised in this farming village. I understand it’s kind of an artists’ colony now. My father’s cousin who is in his 90s still lives there in the family home that is over a hundred years old. I would like to visit him and gain a deeper understanding of my heritage.

Rhodes Project: What are you looking forward to?

Susan Rowe: My family and I are planning a trip to the U.K. next summer, and it will be the first time my children have been there. My husband has been with me several times. I am really looking forward to taking them to Oxford and showing them Magdalen, where I went to college. I want them to visit the country where I had such an amazing experience and always thought it was my home away from home. It will be their first trip abroad.

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