Nicole Yucht

Nicole Yucht
Assistant Vice President of UF Communications

Describe your role as Assistant Vice President of UF Communications.

I lead a team of talented professionals and we have the distinct honor of being responsible for the University of Florida’s brand. Together we oversee the institution’s marketing and identity standards, media and public relations, social media, web and campus outreach efforts. We purposefully think about UF’s image and ways to elevate our reputation nationally and internationally. Every day we have the opportunity to present UF to the world through inspired storytelling and illuminating visuals on unexpected channels. It’s the coolest job in the world!

What are your strengths and how have you learned to identify them?

We serve the faculty and staff at UF and as their ambassadors, our approach to every person and every assignment reflects the positive image we want for our brand. There are more than 300 communicators at UF and my team’s role is to support and amplify their efforts. To accomplish this, I try to be a good team builder, open communicator and proactive problem solver.

What is the most interesting aspect of your job?

The faculty at UF are brilliant in their respective fields, and I have found most to be incredibly humble and unassuming. One of my dear friends always teases me because I think superlatives are the best, but I am serious when I say that I get to work with some of the brightest minds in the world. In addition to the passionate faculty and staff, I am astounded by the caliber of students who attend UF. The millennial generation is sometimes criticized, but this is a group of highly motivated go-getters who are going to make significant changes that positively impact us all. The future looks bright.

What is the hardest part of your job? Why? How do you tackle these challenges?

Higher education institutions face increased competition for quality faculty and students, research funding, state dollars and donor contributions. More and more universities are investing millions of dollars on branding campaigns to influence these issues. At the same time, we are in the middle of a communications revolution, and the way audiences consume information is changing at a record pace. My team has to stay ahead of these trends in our unrelenting pursuit to enhance the image, reputation and stature of UF.

How have your setbacks and weaknesses made you stronger?

I would not have been able to accomplish what I have without setbacks and weaknesses starting with my first job at Shands. I always tried to work harder because my dad was the chair of the UF Department of Otolaryngology and the senior associate dean in the College of Medicine. Even though I had a different last name, I never wanted anyone to think that I was hired because of him. I wanted them to form a positive opinion of me based on my work ethic and quality of work rather than family ties. Even now, I try to be the first one in the office each morning and the last one out.

My greatest source of strength though resulted from one of the most stressful times in our lives. In 2009, Shands announced it was closing Shands AGH, which is where my husband worked in the ER. As the community liaison for the hospital, I helped write the message points and presentations to assure local residents that this business decision would be good for the community, however, at home, this announcement significantly impacted our family’s future. In the middle of the century’s worst economic downturn, we took a giant risk to open our own business, Emergency Physicians Medical Center, a high acuity urgent care. That turned out to be the best decision my husband and I have ever made and it taught me that significant achievements come from gumption, teamwork and lots of laughter.

How do you brand yourself?

I’ve never really thought about branding myself, however, after more than 25 years in the marketing field, I know the most effective advertising is word of mouth, and I want people to say I walk my talk.

How do you want to make an impact through your career?

I have always tried to foster a fun and productive work environment. It’s important that no matter where I am on my career ladder, I am able to contribute in a positive way, but when the whistle blows at the end of each day, the real impact comes from the relationships I’ve made along the way.