In January 2016, Meghan Andersen ’03 was named creative director at The Boston Beer Company, parent company of Sam Adams, Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard brands. With that promotion, her ultimate professional dream came true. Getting there, she said, was “a very cool progression.”
Andersen grew up in southern New Hampshire and admits that as a high school student, she was more focused on her social life and sports than academics. She has always been fascinated by others, though, and driven to reach for any opportunity. When her sister, Carrie Andersen Whitmore ’99, chose Colby-Sawyer, Meghan was excited to make the college hers as well.
Andersen found that Colby-Sawyer’s intimate size helped foster incredible friendships with fellow students and strong relationships with faculty, and as soon as she started taking college courses with an art focus, she became a straight-A student. “It was intriguing to find my passion and realize that doing something you love changes your whole perspective. I got to go to sculpture, I got to go to pottery; I got to paint until whatever time in the studio, and that drove the success of my art career at Colby-Sawyer. My perspective was so different from high school where you have to go to, say, biology.”
Her parents saw how much Andersen loved art and supported her decision to earn a B.F.A. “I had found my passion, something I was good at and put in my own overtime, and all of a sudden I was exceeding expectations,” she said. “They never thought about stopping me. I was provided amazing opportunities at Colby-Sawyer and knew then I wanted to be a creative director.”
After graduation, the artisan at heart took a job as a graphic designer sizing logos for Charles River Apparel. Always hungry for more, she soon took over the company’s advertising. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I saved them $200,000 a year and learned a lot,” said Andersen.
If she sounds fearless, it’s because Andersen’s learned how to use fear to her advantage. “Honestly, the fear fuels me,” she said. “People undervalue what they’re able to do. The fear of failing makes you work so much harder that you’re almost destined to succeed.”
That optimism was a good fit when she moved on to the role of art director at Life is Good in 2010, where she managed creative for all retail and wholesale marketing. She also realized that working with people who believe in what they’re doing makes her believe in what she does. “I love do-gooding, and Life is Good does so much nonprofit work. It moved me to be part of something bigger that was making a difference,” she said.
After four years, when the art director position at The Boston Beer Company opened up, it was an opportunity Andersen couldn’t let pass, and she made the leap. Within two years, she was promoted to creative director, which means overseeing 18 designers who have spent the last year reinventing the identity of the Sam Adams brand to make it stand out even more among the country’s 4,000 brewers. “I’m really intrigued by what makes somebody love a brand and how you bring people into your world,” she said.
It was a proud moment for Andersen when her “brand revolution” launched this September. “When I was in school, I dreamt about growing up and seeing my work in museums,” said Andersen. “Now I realize my museum is a liquor store, and that’s pretty incredible.”
The key to her move into leadership? Having huge opinions and trusting her gut. “It’s worked out, luckily,” she said. “I feel like that’s my upbringing and my education. It’s being so aware of what’s around you and what other brands are doing. I love seeing people grow, and my goal as a director is to inspire the team.”
Since she’s achieved her goal, Andersen is left wondering what comes next. “I’ve been certain for so long of what I was trying to achieve, and now I’ve reached it. I’m excited to see what the future holds, it’s unknown territory. The adventure continues. Stay tuned.”