Committed to the Cause

Gwen Shields


When Andrew and I founded Altitude Marketing seven-and-a-half years ago, we compiled a tightly edited list of cultural values that we wanted the company to embody as it evolved and matured.

Among these was an ambitious resolution: That day-to-day running of the business should have minimal impact on our employees’ personal/family lives. Separation of church and state, as it were.

Last year, I played Bob Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol”—Bob, that 40-something career drudge with the pain-in-the-ass boss, five hungry kids (including sickly little Tiny Tim), and no healthcare.

Back in the day, of course, Andrew and I were the employees—”two guys in a barn,” one of our early prospects disparagingly called us. Today we’re five times bigger than we were in June of 2004, and have long since left the “barn” behind, but we’ve held fast to that resolution. We—and each of our employees—work very hard but enjoy plenty of flexible “me” time to have a real life outside the walls of our offices in Emmaus.

Which is to say, in my typically long-winded fashion, that thanks to our equal emphasis on both business and personal life, I have the opportunity to play Ebenezer Scrooge in the 22nd annual showing of “A Christmas Carol” at the Civic Theatre of Allentown (Dec. 2-17). (Click here for showtimes and ticket info.)

Last year, I played Bob Cratchit in the same show—Bob, that 40-something career drudge with the pain-in-the-ass boss, five hungry kids (including sickly little Tiny Tim), and no healthcare.

Stan Zukowski as Ebenezer ScroogeThis year I auditioned for the Big Cheese himself—Scrooge—and was fortunate to get the part. But in real life I’m not a 70-year-old curmudgeon. I’m forty-[cough] years old with most of my original hair and, if I may be so bold, a youthful twinkle in my eye. It’s going to take a little more than grey hair dye to get this strapping buck to look like a Victorian septuagenarian.

And so as part of my commitment to the thee-ah-tah, I have committed to going above and beyond in my pursuit of Scrooge-osity. This year—in addition to growing a pair of truly outrageous mutton-chop sideburns—I plan to shave the top of my head down to the pasty pale scalp in imitation of a certain male baldness pattern.

My wife is not amused. And I confess to some amount of trepidation. But as part of my commitment to the ancient art of acting, and to my less fortunate brethren (like Andrew) who live with premature baldness every day, I feel it is important—nay, it is my duty—to go big or stay at home.

In a couple of weeks I’ll post a before/after photo for your viewing pleasure. Until then, “Bah, humbug!”

Gwen Shields

As Altitude’s COO, Gwen Shields oversees client-facing systems and processes to improve service and retention, ensuring production operations run smoothly and effectively. Her exceptional problem-solving skills and technical knowledge allow Gwen to understand and guide Altitude’s core base of technology-focused clients.
Gwen earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and worked in information systems and tech sales before becoming a part of Team Altitude in 2008.