Learn how Jessica takes a unique approach to her work and how she strives to keep a good work/life balance.
What are the main challenges for female leaders?
The main challenge for female leaders is being heard and how we are heard. There are times when we all get passionate about a topic. As a woman that can be misconstrued as being too emotional, but for male counterparts it is more acceptable and thought of as assertive. So, there is a balance that must be kept in order to be heard.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
Balancing work and life has been one of the greatest challenges of my career. Four years ago, I faced some health challenges and that made me re-prioritize myself and my family.
My career is and always has been an important part of my life, but I have come to learn that it is only one part. I know now that the others parts of my life need equal, and sometimes more, attention.
One small way I do this is if I find myself getting frustrated or needing a break, I take the break. I take a short walk or just walk outside and breathe. It really is okay to disconnect for a minute. Trust me, everything will be there when you get back, but you will handle it better!
In my journey of balancing work and life, I have discovered that when I do take care of myself, I am a better person and employee. So while finding the balance was a necessity for me, it was also a gift.
What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
Me. The biggest barrier has been me. I am not good about sharing my successes with my leadership. I always just considered it me doing my job. As I moved through my career however, I have watched others and learned that I need to be more open about sharing my accomplishments. While, it's always been important to share accomplishments of my team, being humble is something I pride myself on and that trait makes it very hard to talk about my own successes.
What is your “Why?”
The only way to get better is to do better. That thought helps power me. But, my “Why” is my family and the role models who came before me.
My grandmother came from the Smoky Mountains and got a teaching degree when that was beyond rare. My grandfather was hard of hearing yet earned a master's degree and had a successful career as a tool maker. It has been my grandparents and parents hope that we would go beyond their successes, so that is my "Why." My family walked a much harder path than mine. I will forever be grateful for the role models they are to me.
What are your favorite questions to ask those you lead?
Do you understand the impact you have day in and day out on those you lead?
What are you outside interests?
Outside of work, I like to be outdoors walking, hiking, running, etc. just as long as nature is around me. It's where I recharge the best.
A fun fact about me is that I really like sharks and orcas and I have been whale watching several times.
In addition, I am on the board of a non-profit organization whose mission is to help homeless men address the barriers to housing and self-sufficiency so they can leave homelessness for good. This has been an experience that has opened my mind and my heart to a growing problem faced by far too many. "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people that don't do anything about it."~Albert Einstein