Mower’s Mary Owusu Was Doing SEO Before It Was Cool

'It's our desires that we type into Google'

Mary Owusu prides herself on stretching beyond her comfort zone. Gabrielle Goldstein
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Mary Owusu got into the search marketing game right at its start in the early aughts.

Growing up, Owusu—now the vp and director of analytics and SEO at Syracuse, N.Y.-based digital and PR shop Mower—enjoyed figuring out how to fix broken electronics, leading her to believe she was destined to become an engineer. But when her college introduced a digital media arts program at the end of her freshman year, she changed course and ultimately earned a degree in digital media and an MBA in marketing.

Owusu began as an intern learning SEO at telecommunications company One Communications, which required trial and error as she went along because best practices had not yet been established. “I love the SEO side because ultimately, the way we think, [it’s] our desires and the things we want that we often type into Google,” she said. “We’re researching something in our lives … we bring that desire to a search engine.”

She joined Mower three years ago as director of analytics, but her role also included SEO, which she enjoys because, she said, they are complementary in nature—where SEO drops off in client work, analytics picks up.

Owusu recently joined the board of directors of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA), and while her near-term goal is, naturally, to analyze industry data, she also is committed to diversity and creating a program that allows DAA members to give back through pro bono analytics work. Longer term, Owusu said she’ll continue to do pro bono work, like teaching digital marketing and analytics at her alma mater, Canisius College, as well as marketing for the nonprofit Future in Our Hands – USA, which supports sustainable projects in Kenya and Tanzania.

That drive comes from having taken care of her younger siblings when her parents returned to Ghana, she said. “We couldn’t be out there living the life and partying because to the courts we had to show we were guardian material and could support the younger ones,” she explained.

Owusu prides herself on stretching beyond her comfort zone. “I very often step into the unknown. I say, ‘Yes, and.’ Very often, I stay up late learning and reading about what’s new in my field,” she added. “It’s the conscious decision to do—not just think about doing—that has driven my professional growth.”

Curriculum Vitae

Adjunct professor of marketing, Canisius College,
January 2012—present

Vp, director of analytics and SEO, Mower,
January 2018—present

Director of analytics, Mower,
January 2015—December 2017

Manager, digital marketing and analytics, PCA Technology Group,
January 2011—December 2015

Global ebusiness manager, Ivoclar Vivadent,
September 2007—August 2009

Internet marketing manager, EarthLink Business,
June 2004—September 2007

How She Got the Gig

After 12 years in digital marketing and analytics, Owusu was looking for more upward momentum. She interviewed at Mower with a portfolio of work that demonstrated her experience with clients like Radisson and SweetWorks. She assumed the role in 2015 and was promoted to vp in 2018.

Pro Tip

Owusu’s best career advice comes from motivational speaker Mel Robbins, who said: “I’ll never feel like doing the things that are hard, painful, new, uncertain or scary. So, I need to stop waiting until I feel like it. Our lives come down to our decisions, and if we change our decisions, we will change everything.”

This story first appeared in the May 21, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.
@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.