Women's History Month Spotlight - Kalle Wood

Spotlight: Kalle Wood interviewed by Collin Scheible

Q: What brought you to Jabian?

I was looking for more variety and an opportunity to lead more and do more in my career. Our engagement with the community like Jabian Cares and Board positions were attractive when I was considering a career at Jabian.

Q: What level were you when you started and what has your career progression looked like?

I started at the consultant level. In addition to my consulting work here, I’ve had the opportunity to lead multiple offerings and be in various roles within Jabian Cares and JWAG (Jabian Women’s Affinity Group), which weren’t opportunities available at my prior, larger firm.

Q: Are there any life events that affected your career journey?

As a working woman throughout my career, inevitably men have said inappropriate things during interviews or elsewhere. It drove me to work that much harder, be successful, and beat expectations; putting my head down to get things done. Knowing when to speak up versus when to brush it off and showing people through your actions was something I’ve learned along the way. I definitely have male allies, whether it’s my husband or family, or peers to help me through those events.

Q: Are there meaningful people, moments, or advice that have influenced your experience at Jabian?

My advice to others would be to keep an open mind about opportunities that come across your door. Maybe it’s your next project, a client you’ll meet, the type of work you’ll really like, or the experience of going to a conference. Keep an open mind because a lot of key moments in my career wouldn’t have been obvious.

Q: Is there any relevant generational history to highlight?

Both of my parents were the first ones to attend college in their families. My mom finished college when I was in high school – my parents married young and moved a lot as my dad was in the Army and then in travel consulting, so she hadn’t been able to establish roots for finishing a degree earlier. Watching them with their respective careers and my dad being a career consultant taught me a lot. Even silly, yet meaningful, things like he helped me shop for blue dress shirts to blend in with all the men who were wearing them for their interviews as well. He also taught me how to put on and take off a blazer without looking like I was wrestling it during job interviews.

Women's History Month Spotlight - Tracy Reznik

Spotlight: Tracy Reznik interviewed by Erin Smith

Q: What brought you to Jabian?

Wine brought me to Jabian! I was out with Bradley (my husband) at a wine shop and Nigel Zelcer was also there. He eavesdropped on our conversation and remarked on a comment that I made to Bradley.  We started talking and Nigel asked, “What do you do?” By Monday morning, my first interview with Jabian was on the calendar. That was 11 years ago and here we are. Cheers!

Q: What level were you when you started and what has your career progression looked like?

I started as a manager and got promoted in my first year to senior manager. About two or three years later I was promoted to director. Two years into being a director, I saw the need for more human capital-focused direction and started to fill a role across projects and accounts focused solely on human capital engagements across business development and client delivery. This turned into the product model we have today. When I first time proposed this type of role, I got a “no; the second time, I got a “not now;” and the third time I got a “yes…if you can go figure it out.” So that’s what I did.

Q: Are there any life events that affected your journey?

Yes, multiple life events shaped who I am as a consultant, but they happened before I came to Jabian. Specifically, my growing family was the biggest change that occurred as my career was progressing. These life changes made me consider consulting again only if I could successfully balance both my family and career. Jabian is a company that acknowledges that balance and allows me to perform work that I love while also having boundaries.

Q: Are there moments when someone helped you navigate the male majority field of consulting that come to mind?

Consulting is less male-dominated now than it was when I started twenty years ago. I have seen the evolution of more women leaders across all types of companies and industries, consulting included. Human capital consulting leans towards female leadership (historically), so I’ve had plenty of female role models. I do think that if I was solely in technology consulting, I would have experienced the male majority more. The number of women consultants and women leaders that I have seen over time is refreshing. This trend needs to continue.

Q: Are there any meaningful people, moments, or advice that have influenced your experience at Jabian?

Everyone. I’m here because of the people. There have been so many that have influenced my life and career. But if I have to think of someone specific, I’d have to say Fred Jewell. He’s been my saving grace over and over again. The pieces of advice that he’s given over time are “Keep it simple” and “Do what works best for you.” He’s also given me great advice on having the confidence to overcome impostor syndrome.

Q: Is there any relevant generational history to highlight?

I was the first in my immediate family to pursue consulting. My mom was a high school English teacher, my dad was an electrical and mechanical engineer, and my brother practices law. My dad understood human capital management consulting from his MBA days (he loved his organizational behavior coursework), but it took years for the rest of my family to understand what I did for a living. Management consulting was a foreign concept – especially the travel part. My grandmother would tell people that I was a teacher who teaches adults.

Women's History Month Spotlight - Lydia Slotten

Spotlight: Lydia Slotten interviewed by Ryan Yan

Q: What brought you to Jabian?

At the time, I was living in Melbourne, Australia, and I was looking for a local firm that would value individuality. Additionally, I wanted to integrate my interests in customer experience (CX) and boost my commitment to non-profits and the community. I also felt limited in my nonprofit work options and desired to make community impacts closer to home.

So, I started looking up the best places to work and considered anywhere in the United States since my family lived there. Some interesting firms popped up and many were well-reviewed and offered that boutique experience I was seeking. But ultimately, I didn’t want to lose my passion for technology – some of the other firms were pure-play strategies. Lastly, when I found Jabian, it worked out well since Matt, my husband, also lived outside Atlanta before and still had family here.

Q: What level were you when you started and what has your career progression looked like?

I started Jabian as a consultant. I remember being on one of my first projects with Mitchell Kinkaid and he encouraged me that if I didn’t know something, I can bring someone in for help. For example, for vendor selection, we brought in Ryan Applegate, who led our offering on the subject. I wanted to do that too, but for CX. So, I wrote an article spin on vendor selection but with the experience element of software for users. When I first joined, the first Jabian Journal had just come out, and voraciously learned it while interviewing. Then for my first project was excited to learn by doing our bread and butter – our approach to process work.

During that time the CX offering was nascent – Chad McCloud was starting it up. I discovered I could choose my own adventure, so I wrote other journal articles on CX among other activities, which increased the number of first chances that we could then use to build momentum. I also made sure to add a customer element to all the projects that I was on, and now I’m the CX product director.

The passing of the baton from Chad to myself and being able to run with the offering has been great because I am passionate about CX and our people. Our product offerings are where we can bring in the entrepreneurial spirit and I love that energy.

Q: Are there any life events that affected your journey?

From the beginning, trying to move from Australia back to the U.S. affected my journey. One of my grandfathers died while I was abroad. I knew I wanted to live closer to family, but we moved to a city where I didn’t know many people. Joining Jabian was as much about finding a new job as it was about finding and eventually growing a new community. I’ve gotten deeply involved in community groups, including animal shelters and more – this is the reason why we have rescued the dogs that we have! And the friendships I grew have been amazing- for example, Grace Wessinger was in my wedding.

More recently, COVID-19 forced all of us to take a step back and focus on the things that truly matter to us. It also shaped CX, including digital products and surrounding experiences, taking a bigger role, and increasing its relevance in today’s world.

Q: Are there moments when someone helped you navigate the male-majority field of consulting that come to mind?

I thought it didn’t matter upon first instinct, I’m strong and females are strong, but there have been people that have really helped mentor me in this area. There are a few people that have come to mind.

In Melbourne, there was a female partner at my previous firm that really helped me – she guided me with our shared ex-pat experience. I had a Jabian panel with Jenni Crenshaw, and I immediately looked up to her. My first Jabian career developer, Kelly Jones-Moncrief, was who I was intentional about choosing. I really wanted to learn from a female leader.

A specific moment with Kelly comes to mind. We talked about when I was in workshops with tech lead males that are older, how do I know they are paying attention to me? Or if they are going down a rabbit hole, how do I bring everyone back? How do I bring that gravitas to bring them back to earth? Also, in certain projects, I’ve been in awe of certain female client leaders. I get to see how they balance their life and passions. This is also why Jen Nourollahi, my current career developer, has continued to be a great mentor for me.

Females must do so much to balance their lives. So, I’m grateful to get amazing advice on that, and centering on what is the most important has been helpful. When I reflect, it’s not necessarily female-specific advice, but having a female frame of mind and shared experiences has been impactful.

Q: Are there meaningful people, moments, or advice that have influenced your experience at Jabian?

One of my aunts is a business leader that I go to. She taught me some of the 101 of being a team and how to make your boss look good, how to make everyone in the ecosystem look good, and how to recognize various skillsets and be appreciative of individual unique contributions.

The biggest piece of advice that I’ve gotten from Kelly is if there’s something you want, go out and make it. For example, she was the leader of a product group at the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). At the time there was a CRM group but not a CX group, which was necessary. We partnered with Chad for a first-time event and ultimately transformed the CRM group into the CRM and CX group.

Q: Any relevant generational history to highlight?

One of the most important things to happen to me has been having a mentoring support structure of family, friends like family, and neighbors. Neither my mom nor my dad was strictly in business, one is a scientist, and one is an architect, so advice has been broader, but they are both entrepreneurial in their own rights. From my dad, I learned from a young age is that you can just get a sheet of paper and start drawing to learn about a problem, or pictorially describe a concept with a framework, or listen to someone who does, while accepting you don’t know everything. My current family generation is more business-based. I’m lucky to have had people in my family to be sounding boards for me. I don’t take this for granted because these familial connections and nurturing influence have been so helpful. The community around any person is deeply influential and this is a major reason why I’m so into helping the community and mentees, to pay it forward.

There’s an implied assumption that these types of discussions would center on family and kids, but there’s so much more to womanhood and of course, different types of women. I may never have kids. Females, and the definition of a female, is diverse. I feel like sometimes these conversations are centered on certain topics that don’t necessarily apply to me or all women. We are strong and different; I’m glad I have so many different people to look up to that represent female leadership in unique ways.

When I’ve been chosen to represent a leadership group in a male-dominated space before, for example as a TAG Hero, it should’ve felt purely like an honor, but being in such a male-dominated space, I have felt somewhat like I was used as a token ‘young female leader.’ Now I understand it better. Representation from interviews, to awards, and leadership moments, large and small, may help others down the line see the possibilities and I’m all for lifting others up.

As a kid, I remember having books on very specific women heroines, and the novelty of them was part of what was so impressive- the first X. I’m so thankful for their efforts in history from now through the current day, surmounting deeper inequity struggles then I’ll ever face across the globe.

Women's History Month Spotlight - Grace Wessinger

Spotlight: Grace Wessinger interviewed by Carlos Saldaña

Q: Where did you join from and what brought you to Jabian?

I joined Jabian after undergrad. I didn’t have my career as planned out as I had thought when it came time to graduate so I spent a year doing various internships outside of what I had already done in college. I was applying for anything and everything at the time to gain experience and grow my resume and found another internship opportunity at Jabian. I knew nothing of the consulting world but moved to Atlanta two weeks later to start something that “could” turn into a full-time job. Nine years later, I’m still at Jabian.

Q: What level were you when you started and what has your career progression looked like?

When I started at Jabian, I didn’t know what my career path would look like since the marketing department was brand new – Rob Amberg’s first day was two weeks after my internship started. Not only did I not know what opportunities would be available for me at Jabian over the years, but I also didn’t know what different careers in marketing could look like.

With Jabian being a small company and the department so new, I was able to start my career in a very generalized role. Playing many roles in a small department gave me exposure to the various sub-specialties within marketing. Over the years, Jabian has given me the ownership to focus my skills in various areas such as brand strategy and digital marketing.

Q: Are there any life events that affected your journey?

About five years into my time at Jabian, my now-husband moved from Atlanta to Greenville, SC to start medical school. After about a year of long-distance, I decided to move to Greenville as well. As I was job searching, Jabian offered me a remote position. This was 2018, so pre-COVID-19, and I was the first full-time remote employee for Jabian. I was nervous about the transition but the distance between Atlanta and Greenville was only two hours, so I came back into the office once a month to maintain in-person relationships. We weren’t using Microsoft Teams at this point, so my “virtual” experience was different from what it is now. In many ways, COVID-19 has helped me work better with my team in a remote capacity.

Three years later, my husband was accepted into a residency program in Pennsylvania, so we moved again! I now live in Harrisburg, PA, and am coming up on my nine-year anniversary with Jabian – three cities later.

I have considered new opportunities over the years. As a millennial, the career advice I heard was to change careers every few years to grow your skills and increase salary opportunities. Putting together a resume and interviewing helped me realize that everything I was looking for in a job I already had at Jabian so I would just be leaving something that fit my needs for the same thing somewhere else. Jabian has grown significantly over the last decade, and with it, the opportunities for my career have continued to grow. I have incredible support from my team and Jabian’s leadership. And I really enjoy the work I do.

Q: Are there moments when someone helped you navigate the male-majority field of consulting that come to mind?

There are so many women at Jabian who have influenced my career over the years. When I started fresh out of college, with no work experience, Victoria Inman took me under her wing and helped me understand the consulting world’s lingo. She had recently moved from an internal role to a consulting career, so she was perfectly positioned to help me gain an understanding of the industry. Lydia Slotten started around the same time as I did. Even though we were similar ages, she had already accomplished so much more in her career than I did, so I really respected her and how she navigated the corporate world as a woman. Our relationship is one I still value to this day and rely on for guidance.

Q: Are there meaningful people, moments, or advice that have influenced your experience at Jabian?

Some meaningful advice I learned from my colleagues at Jabian was to brag about yourself. When it came time for my first annual review, Rob told me to keep a “brag box” in my inbox to keep emails I received throughout the year from people about my performance. I struggled with bragging about myself. I struggled to write down and say to leaders, “Hey, I did this cool thing, and I’m really proud of it.” Jabian’s tradition of Jratitude encourages all of us to thank and “brag on” each other at the firm.

Q: What would you tell my daughters as career advice for their futures and what as a father can I do to support in their careers?

You never know where an opportunity will come from so be open to anything. As a father, support their decisions even if it isn’t something you would do.

Women's History Month Spotlight - Jen Nourollahi

Spotlight: Jennifer Nourollahi interviewed by Adam Herndon

Q: What brought you to Jabian?

In my previous role, I realized that consulting work was both interesting and challenging and something that I really enjoyed. Joining Jabian was appealing because it allowed me to stay in consulting while still being able to have and spend time on the things I cared about (i.e., family, time at home, etc.). The fact that I’ve been here at Jabian for 11 years is evidence that it has worked out well for me.

Q: What level were you when you started and what has your career progression looked like?

I joined Jabian as a manager and over 11 years that’s evolved into senior manager, director, and now account director. I can credit a few things to my growth over time. First and foremost, do the work, don’t get distracted, think about what is needed to be done, and do them. It’s that straightforward.

Also, I fully embraced the mentorship culture – both up and down. I strive to be receptive to people mentoring me as well as providing feedback/mentorship in the other direction. Engaging in that way went hand in hand with engaging the broader sphere at Jabian and growing broad relationships. Relationships across the firm have been a big help in my growth. Lastly, I make it a point to step back and be thoughtful about what I want in my path both professionally and personally.

Q: Are there any life events that affected your journey?

Before joining Jabian, I was married and firmly rooted so it was an easy transition initially. Later on, I started a family, and having kids is a major work and life-changing experience. Jabian’s culture and environment created a place that allowed me to balance and have the time I wanted to take so that I could focus on family and then assume a more direct career growth path.

Q: Are there moments when someone helped you navigate the male-majority field of consulting that come to mind?

Absolutely. Consulting is definitely a male-majority field, and I have had many mentors help me navigate things. My approach is to be direct and so it never felt like a major obstacle to overcome.