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René Shimada Siegel

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Bio

Meet René

René is a partner in AMF Media Group and leads the Connext Services team. Prior to her current role, she was founder and CEO of Connext, Silicon Valley’s resource for marketing and communications consultants. She has an infectious passion for empowering the entrepreneurial spirit that results in innovative and flexible workforce solutions for her clients.

In 1997, after having three children in five years, René left her corporate job to start her own freelance PR business. That evolved into High Tech Connect (later rebranded as Connext), with the mission of making life easier for her overworked corporate friends while also helping freelance friends thrive. Since then, René and her team have supported thousands of technology clients with specialized consultants ranging from recent grads to senior strategists.

René is also a multigenerational workforce advocate for the next generation of professionals. She is an adjunct public relations professor at her alma mater, San Jose State University, and also serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the Lucas College of Business. Among her many public speaking experiences, she has been a featured speaker at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference and the Watermark Conference for Women. She’s also a contributing writer for Forbes and Inc.com.

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Experience

Professional History

Associations

  • International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
  • Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

Community

  • Dean’s Advisory Board, Lucas College of Business, San Jose State University
  • Advisor, Beyond Sparta, San Jose State University

Education

  • San Jose State University

Experience

Connext
San Jose State University
Novell
SynOptics
3Com
Agilis
TFB/BBDO
Sytek

Honors/Awards

  • Watermark Make Your Mark Award for Advocacy, November 2018

Speaking Engagements

  • Public Relations Society of America International Conference, 2018, Austin, TX,  "Virtual Agency or Independent Practice? A PR Entrepreneur's Guide to Success"

Thought Leadership Publications

Q&A
Q. What is it about the profession that first drew your interest?

I was a very quiet, insecure and shy person growing up. I didn’t know how to speak up— to the point where I lost a spelling bee when the teacher didn’t hear me. (Gah! Cupboard!)

I got to college with plans to study engineering but took a risk, entered a pageant and spent a year with publicists promoting global brands and representing the Bay Area Asian community. Over that year, I found my voice and saw firsthand how it empowered and helped others. That’s when I fell in love with communications.

When I got back to school, I changed my major to public relations and I’ve been helping others find their voice and tell their story ever since. I’m giving that awkward, nerdy kid a chance to shine through by sharing my vulnerability and authenticity as a creative communicator.

Q. What was it that drew you to Armanino?
I had been an Armanino client for about 15 years before joining the firm.  I already knew the firm had talented people who shared my values, and I had built long-term professional relationships with several partners. I knew coming together with AMF Media Group and Armanino was the right fit, because together we all see the unlimited opportunity to help people and businesses succeed from every angle.
Q. What is the toughest decision you have ever made?
I don’t look at any of my past decisions as tough, because even the most challenging obstacles and failures lead to growth. From leaving my corporate job after having three children, starting a business, rebranding my company and now joining AMF Media Group and Armanino, all the decisions were tough but inevitably led to exciting new opportunities. I believe pushing past fear is how you find abundance.
Q. Describe your work style.
I’m an idea person and a problem solver. I love the energy of brainstorming and collaborating with smart, creative people. There’s nothing like a Sunday evening text from a client with a critical consulting project, and the thrill of customizing a solution with my team that makes life easier for them.
Q. What’s your proudest moment?
I’m super proud of my kids. My oldest son is an independent entertainment producer in New York, my daughter left her corporate editor job to become a holistic nutrition coach, and my youngest is a medical assistant applying to medical school. They’ve all channeled their natural gifts and are having an impact on others.
Q. Who is (or was) the most influential person in your life

My grandmother led a long life, but it was a hard life. She did not have an education and was a young mother with two children when she was sent off with all she could carry to an internment camp in Utah during World War II.

Despite everything being taken away from her, and all her struggles, she was always so positive. Grandma told me that good things come to good people, and to remember that nothing ever comes to you unless you go out and get it. I’ve carried her wise words with me throughout my life.

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