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WIT Employee Profile: Cali Paetow

March 18, 2024

This is the next feature in a new series of profiles focusing on WIT employees. Today's post features WIT creative services manager Cali Paetow, who was one of the original WIT employees. Currently living in New York City, Cali has a big role in the look and design of WIT applications and features.

So where are you originally from? What was life like growing up for you?

I grew up in a little hamlet called Olivebridge, NY about two hours north of New York City. It was kind of remote - I wasn’t isolated, but you had to drive to get anywhere - so I was kind of a homebody and read a lot of books. I loved watching old movies with my dad and playing the Sims with neighborhood friends. We made forts in the woods and made silly home movies. 

Sports weren’t big in my family but I actually kind of did a lot through school. Afterschool sports meant spending more time with friends, so despite my lack of natural athleticism I was on the soccer, cross country, and ski team. My parents taught me and my sister to ski when we were really little - thanks mom and dad! I think cross country was my favorite though. Ulster County is beautiful, and jogging on a narrow trail through the woods almost felt meditative. Otherwise I was basically a music / theater kid. I did orchestra, chorus, chamber, jazz, fiddle group… that list is too long!

Cali and family at the ski slopes

So where did you go after high school?

After high school I went straight to Brooklyn College, where I was incredibly lucky to receive a full scholarship through the Macaulay Honors Program. Growing up two hours away, we’d come down once in a while for a Broadway show or a school trip to a museum. I’d always thought it was the coolest place, so I only looked at colleges around New York City. When I visited the Brooklyn College campus, it was just beautiful. It’s like a little sliver of upstate New York in Brooklyn. I entered undecided but really enjoyed media studies classes so I ended up majoring in multimedia production. We produced shows in a campus studio and I had a morning radio show… It was fun!

In my last semester, one of my favorite professors opened the floor to questions about working in the multimedia production industry and opened my eyes to some of the struggles in that career path. After getting my degree, I went a different direction and used my editing skills in social media and web marketing, which I had done a bit for the family business (more on that later!) already. That led me to a content moderation job for a humor website, and a few years later I moved into social media management and influencer marketing for a cool startup called WIT Contests and… here we are!

Tell me more about the early days of WIT.

I was one of the first to join and it’s been a surreal journey. You’re going through your everyday work, and then you look around and 3-4 years have gone by and you realize how far we’ve come. It’s amazing to look back and see how quickly everything has grown. It’s been easy to have faith in WIT because Vaidhy’s vision has always been so strong. Even when we were making the huge pivot from being a consumer app to being a white-labeled digital platform, he was just like, ‘I’ve given this a lot of thought and this is the way to go.’ and for me it was like, ‘Alright, I’m all in. Let’s go.’ Vaidhy has always been a strong leader and it’s been easy to follow along as the company has evolved. 

In the early days, it was much smaller in terms of team size, but it was the same energy - the vibe was good. Vaidhy’s always got positive energy to share!

Ashley M., Cali, Ashley S. and Liz at the 2023 WIT Summit

What WIT projects have a personal meaning to you?

I’d have to say the Buffalo Sabres bracket of their longtime announcer’s best calls. They were one of our first big clients so it was exciting to work with them. It was also a completely new build with room for creativity. From beginning to end, that activation had such a nice story around it. Knowing that RJ himself appreciated it was the cherry on top!

What are your interests outside of work and sports?

I like playing video games with friends and going to shows here in NYC, especially smaller venues and bands. My husband, Frank, is into MMA so we’ll have friends over to watch big events for UFC, PFL, One Championship, etc. I would never fight myself (like Brandon Wilson) but I can comment on it.

I met Frank (Francois, really) when I was studying abroad in Paris through Macaulay and he graciously moved to New York with me. He’s super into music as well and plays guitar wherever we go. My French still isn’t perfect but I’m working on it. We have a cat named Cyprus - he’s just a big fluffy boy. He’s psycho and loves to play fetch. He’s not super cuddly, but he will be a rag doll if you want to carry him around or show him off on team calls.

I still play viola occasionally for a friend’s band, Blue Spruce, and with the family group, the Catskill Quartet. My mom’s always been involved with wedding string groups in the Hudson Valley. She studied music and was the orchestra teacher at my high school so she’s the real deal. She has a whole network of musician friends that she plays with in regional orchestras, but occasionally she’ll need another player so I (and my sister who plays the cello) will sub in.

The Catskill Quartet with Cali and family

What is something you’re looking forward to this year?

My goal is to be more physically active this year and I look forward to improving my balance with more yoga soon. In terms of things on the calendar though, Frank and I have several weddings coming up all around the world… And the next WIT Summit of course. It’s an exciting year!

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Your team is crushing it IRL, but are you fumbling when it comes to digital engagement? Contact us to find out how we can help you crush your goals.
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