Meet Marilyn Olson

Former Director of Corporate Relations for Visa and Principal for MPKO LLC, Marilyn Olson is the Senior Vice President for PPR Worldwide. Additionally, she is the recipient of IABC/San Diego’s Communicator of the Year Award. She has been a member of IABC since 2008 and finds the relationships and network of incredible communicators, both here in San Diego and across the country are the most valuable things about her membership. Outside of work, you can find Marilyn spending time at her kids’ baseball and soccer games, and attending San Diego’s live music venues with her husband.

About Me

San Diego, CA

Current Residence:
San Diego, CA

IABC Member Since:

Favorite Quote: 
“So… that happened.”
Alec Baldwin in ‘State and Main’ (David Mamet)

“The last of human freedoms – the ability to chose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances.”
Victor Frankl

“Let me have my own way in exactly everything and a sunnier and pleasanter creature does not exist.”
Thomas Carlyle

When I’m not working, you could find me…
I spend about 30-50 percent of my time traveling, so time away from work is absolutely precious. My priority is spending time with our three children (ages 10, 8 and 2). Life at this stage involves a lot of time at baseball and soccer games, building Legos and watching as many movies as we can. My husband and I love to go to San Diego’s best live music venues and I always try to make time to spend with my girlfriends.

Three words that best describe me:

My Life in Communications

The biggest communications challenge I have faced…
I’m actually facing it right now. One of my clients recently decided to decentralize their internal communications and have them more directly linked with their external communications counterparts and focused on the individual business units. Both the client and agency teams are working through how best to navigate this very different environment, and balancing the pan-organizational needs with those of a particular area of the business.

My favorite communications memory is…
My favorites are the high-stakes, complex, thorny crises and issues. Two standout memories include doing stakeholder communications for Visa during one of the largest class-action settlements in U.S. history and keeping 100,000 Dell team members informed and engaged during the intense process of Dell’s privatization.

The most important communications or professional lesson I’ve learned is…
As massive at it sometimes seems, this is a small industry. The difficult junior member of your team today could be your client tomorrow. That exasperating executive? He could be your next boss. Keep it professional – always. And when you find yourself writing that impassioned email response to a frustrating issue? Just save that in your draft folder and decide in the morning if you really should send it.

Resources that I really find useful and recommend to other communicators are…
Shift F7 in Microsoft Word to help me find that word that won’t come to me, Bullet Journaling ( to keep my notebooks (and life) organized, and the Daily Skimm ( to get my day started.

The most valuable thing about my membership with IABC is…
The relationships and network of incredible communicators, both here in San Diego and across the country.

You should know this about me…
My motto: It’s only a mistake if you can’t laugh at it, learn from it and move on.

Career Highlights

Principal, MPKO LLC, 2008-2011
Director, Corporate Relations, Visa U.S.A., 2000-2008
Director, Marketing Communications, 1999-2000
Account Supervisor, Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., 1996-1999
Account Executive, Wilson McHenry Company, 1994-1996

Current Job
Senior Vice President, PPR Worldwide