Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. My career story is all about relationships, but I guess it started with coffee. I was 19 years old and a barista at a local coffee shop in my hometown in Australia. I was asked what I wanted to do with my life by one of my regulars, and I outright said to “run a creative marketing agency”. He just so happened to have a connection in the industry so he wrote that persons number down for me on a napkin and said to call it and set up a meeting. So, at 19 with full conviction (or delusion, call it what you will), I called the CEO and met with him for a coffee that following week. Long story short, I was offered an internship, that internship turned into a full-time gig, then that gig turned into three years working experience.
During this time, I was also at University. Let’s just say I enjoyed the challenge of juggling it all. Throughout my studies, I often found the textbooks outdated. I was already working in the industry and learning more on the job. However, there was one book, ‘The Art Of Client Service’, a small, pocket-sized gem that actually spoke to the realness of all that is “agency life” and 5th Avenue advertising. I emailed the author, ‘Robert Solomon’ to say thank you, and he responded. We kept an open dialogue and he organically became my remote mentor, Canberra to California.
At 24, with several years of experience under my belt in Australia, I applied to Miami Ad School in the US and got accepted into the program in New York City. I did the program to learn from the best in the biz, of course, but above all to get in front of the right people and build my book of contacts. During this time I met with so many people (spent a lot of money on buying people coffee), hustled and grew my relationships.
I was offered an opportunity in NYC and it was from here that I continued to grow my experience in marketing strategy in a big way working with brands such as American Express, Uber, Google, DISH, and Samsung. I also committed my spare time to help others learn through guest lecturing marketing students at NYU and consulting to several start-up brands and not for profit organizations. I spent five years in NYC before most recently moving to Los Angeles where I am currently VP of Strategy & Accounts for a creative marketing agency. My 30th birthday is not too far away, and with that, I’m looking forward to leaning into even more leadership and speaking actively at women empowerment communities and panels!
Has it been a smooth road? Absolutely not, but struggles shape you right? Getting to where I am today has been a hustle, and I know that it’s likely just the beginning. In leaving my country to seek opportunities in the US, I didn’t realize the nuances of doing business in America. Although I am now well versed to talk the talk, as well as walk the walk, the overall culture-shock took some time to get used to. The sheer size of America compared to Australia is just one aspect, for example, the state of California has 39 Million people – that’s more people than Australia’s entire population, at 25 Million.
As you can imagine, big city life comes with big dreams, big money, big brands, and big problems, so making big moves is a must! When I first started out it was a struggle to even get in the door, but I never gave up. It was (and is still sometimes) a struggle to be your own biggest cheerleader. In cities like NYC and LA you’re ‘up against’ other wildly talented, incredible people, so finding your edge and point of difference can be difficult. Though once you do the work, get the runs on the board, you realize that the only way to be successful is to truly ‘just be yourself’, (as cheesy as that sounds) you realize that there’s no such thing as competition. Your lane is your lane!
I’ve always been of the mindset that if you work hard for what you want, it ultimately works out. Resilience and relationships have been key drivers to combating my slew of struggles.
Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? I do a creative marketing strategy and specialize in digital content. This means all things websites, social media, email, online experiences, advertising, branding, positioning and communications. I lead the strategic planning and client experience from kickoff, through creative concepts and planning, to execution and finalization of a project. A lot of my role revolves around looking at people and culture, searching for opportunities and insights for brands in the marketplace and building engaging campaigns that bring the two together.
Our agency, [L]earned Media works with both established, global brands, as well as local startup innovators. It makes me most proud when we work collaboratively on bringing an idea to life from the ground up. That can mean generating a fresh, never seen before concept and launching it through to market, or working with an established brand on doing something reinvigorates them with a new market.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least? Los Angeles weather, period end of story. This sunny city allows for so many outdoor activities! I live in West Hollywood on Sunset Blvd and typically hike Runyon Canyon twice a week which is walking distance from our apartment. I feel extremely grateful to live in an environment that allows for so many hiking trails, parks, and the beach being so easily accessible.
I also appreciate that our office is within walking distance from my home, and my gym is close by, this means that I tend to avoid the thing I like least about LA, which is rush hour traffic!