Gay Gaddis, President and CEO
A few years back, Gay Gaddis climbed Mount Kota Kinabalu — the highest peak in Malaysia measuring close to 13,500 feet. Before she set out, she had no idea what was ahead. But she didn’t over-analyze the opportunity, and instead took the challenge head-on, much like her approach in business.
In 1989, with a U.S. recession in full swing, Gay worked for an Austin advertising firm that was holding its ground but looking for new ideas to keep it moving forward. She developed a new business model that combined creative advertising with scientific measurement. When the CEO failed to support the plan, she quit the agency and started T3 with two employees and a$16,000 IRA. She trusted her gut, began the “mountain climb” and never looked back.
Today, T3 is the largest independent advertising agency owned by a woman in the country, with offices in Austin, New York and San Francisco. As a collaborative think tank, T3 works with clients including Allstate, Coca-Cola, JPMorgan Chase, MetroPCS, Pfizer, Phillips 66 Lubricants, Reliant Energy, Sprite, UPS, 7-Eleven and Windows Phone.
T3 is widely recognized as a dynamic company — the agency was a pioneer in digital marketing, an early leader in online video and is currently one of the U.S. leaders in mobile.
Gay speaks around the world on marketing issues, innovation and entrepreneurship. She is a strong voice on how small business can help fuel job creation around the world. Gay has addressed groups at Harvard, Wharton, The New York Times Small Business Summit and the Global Summit of Women. She has traveled with the U.S. State Department to mentor small businesses in the Baltic region and Middle East. And in October 2010, she was in China mentoring business students at Fudan and Tsinghua Universities.
Gay is a member of the Committee of 200’s (C200) governing board of directors, one of the most prominent women’s organizations, and is on the advisory board of Womensphere. Gay serves on the Executive Committee of the Texas Business Leadership Council, and she was appointed to the Lower Colorado River Authority by the Governor of Texas and served a six-year term. An avid philanthropist, Gay has served on non-profit boards including: Helping Hand Home, Salvation Army, Headliners Club, First United Methodist Preschool and the Arthritis Foundation.
Gay has been a contributor for PINK magazine and iMedia Communications. She writes for and is quoted frequently in Adweek, Mediapost and DMNews, among others. Her dynamic business acumen and T3’s corporate culture has also led to national recognition and publicity. Gay was named as one of Fast Company’s “Top 25 Women Business Builders,” Inc. magazine’s “Top 10 Entrepreneurs of the Year” and 25 Advertising Working Mothers of the Year by Working Mother magazine. In 2011, Gay won the Austin Business Journal’s Best CEO Award for a medium-size company. This prestigious award recognizes CEO’s all over Texas.
A significant (and unique) part of T3’s corporate culture is the T3 and Under program which allows mothers and fathers to bring babies to work for the first nine months to help ease the transition into day care. Nearly 70 babies have participated to date! The family-friendly workplace programs that Gay has created have been recognized by the White House, “Good Morning America,” BBC World Service radio, USA Today and “Nightline.”
Before founding T3, Gay started her career as a copywriter with The Richards Group. She then served as public relations director for Baylor University Medical Center; marketing director for Leadership Dynamics, a national management consulting firm; and later became a partner at an Austin advertising agency. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.
Gay and her husband Lee are parents to three: Ben, Rebecca and Sam who are all active in the marketing industry. Together, Gay and Lee, who is also the COO to T3, fun the Double Heart Ranch where they raise Texas longhorns. So when Gay isn't leading T3, she can be found leading a herd of cattle or working in her vast garden where she grow everything from plums to squash.