Jessica Gillette Rising Star Qa

01 Aug, 2017

Q&A with the 2017 SMPS DC Rising Star Winner Jessica Gillette

Crystal Brackett

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Read time: 3 minutes, 34 seconds

Rising Star Award Background

The Rising Star Award honors a current member of SMPS Washington DC Chapter who has worked in the A/E/C marketing profession for less than five years and who has demonstrated a commitment to the field of marketing professional services and has shown an aptitude for leadership through involvement in and contributions to the DC Chapter. Jessica Gillette is SMPS DC’s 2017 Rising Star Award recipient.

Community Outreach Committee Director Melissa Blum states, “[Jessica] has continued to demonstrate a commitment to the field of marketing professional services and has shown an aptitude for leadership through her involvement in and contributions to the DC chapter…I honestly can’t say enough good things about her.”

Jessica has been in the AEC industry for a little over three years and recently transitioned to christopher consultants, ltd., as a marketing coordinator. Born and raised in Northern Virginia, Jessica left for a few years to attend Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, SC, but came right back. She is currently on the Special Events and Community Outreach Committees for SMPS DC and volunteers as a coach for Girls on the Run NoVA.

Q&A with Jessica Gillette

SMPS DC: How were you first introduced to SMPS and what motivated you to join?

Justin Jacobs invited me to the 2015 kickoff event a week prior to me actually joining his team at GORDON. Everyone was very welcoming and friendly, so I was super excited to join as a new member my first day on the job.

How has SMPS helped you in your career thus far?

We can start with choosing me to attend Build Business as part of the Pay-It-Forward Grant! I learned so much while I was at the conference that will stay with me throughout my career and bolster my firm’s marketing endeavors. Members have also connected me with others in the industry who I would’ve had no idea how to contact or approach. The education events SMPS DC puts on are also absolutely wonderful and provide invaluable, relevant content that leave you thinking, “Wow, I never thought of that!”

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Trust your crazy ideas. Those that know me well know that I thrive on being different, pushing limits, and being on the opposite side of the world as the proverbial box. People have definitely questioned my ideas, but all it takes is effort and for you to believe in yourself (sorry to sound so cheesy) to make them come to fruition and be successful. I believe everyone should be brave and make bold choices, speak up, embrace and learn from failure, and don’t let the haters get you down!

Who would you consider to be influential people in your career?

Don’t judge me – Taylor Swift. OK, obviously she isn’t in the AEC industry, but this is a girl that went to Nashville at age 11, and when the big record label rejected her because everyone else could do that, she thought, “OK, what do I need to do to be different?” So, she went home, learned how to play the guitar, set a goal to achieve her dreams, and had a record deal at age 14. (Bet you didn’t think you’d be getting Taylor Swift’s life story.) The point is she influenced me to do what I needed to do to get to where I am, and she is constantly envisioning ways to do new things and be different—traits I apply to my marketing efforts every day. I hope to be as influential to the AEC industry/marketing as she is to the world one day.

Helpful hints to share with your fellow SMPS members?

Get involved! Time commitments scare people, but here’s the cool thing: the Board members understand this and want to work with you, no matter how much time you can commit. There is so much that needs to be done, so every little bit helps. By sitting in the background, you’re missing out on getting to know great people, gaining resume-building experience, learning from incognito mentors, skills that can be applied to your home life, and let’s not forget super cool awards. Who doesn’t love winning awards?

What does being awarded the Rising Star award mean to you?

It means I am a star, and I have risen. No, I’m joking. The Rising Star Award is a tremendous deal for me. (Brace yourself, here comes another life story.) I had been going through a ginormous rough patch in early 2014. This includes being fired, and that boss, someone I barely knew, telling me, “You really need to get your stuff together.” It didn’t stop there, and the day before I started at an architecture firm—my first glimpse into the AEC industry—I was literally at rock bottom. But, I walked into that office with my head held high and the past behind me. I jumped at every opportunity presented to prove I was good at marketing, putting more effort than was required into absolutely everything. I continued this zealousness with SMPS DC, and almost three years to the day, received the Rising Star Award. So, to me, this award means strength, perseverance, and accomplishment. (And no, I won’t tell you the mess I was in until I’m ϋber rich and Taylor Swift-famous.)

Crystal Brackett, SMPS DC PR/Communications Committee Member
Markon Solutions
Associate, Marketing and Communications