With nearly two decades of insights experience under her belt, Jackie reflected on her time at UW and how it helped shape her into a highly successful leader at top insights companies like Pepsi, SC Johnson and Beam Suntory.
As is the case with many of us, Jackie stumbled upon the career path to some degree when she was moved into a product manager role at a bank and found herself enjoying the process of understanding the full business model and answering questions with consumers at the forefront. With a family full of Badgers and a friend in the UW business school program, she was drawn to the A.C. Nielsen Center and the rest is history. She describes the community as highly collaborative, with her former classmates (and current colleagues) working together and rooting for one another as they leverage insights in different ways and share back their experiences.
With her success in the industry, Jackie now finds herself in a position where she’s eager to give back to the A.C. Nielsen Center community as a board member, helping guide the center through changes in the industry and maintaining a strong sense of community. She has seen the center evolve quite a bit over the years, particularly when it comes to developing insights professionals into effective translators. She expects the program to continue to lean into that role as it becomes more difficult to be a good translator amid rapid technology and data growth and developments.
The one constant since she started as a student, and an irreplaceable asset of the A.C. Nielsen Center, is its alumni community, which she has leaned on and learned from throughout her career. In addition to leveraging the alumni network to break into the industry at Quaker Oats, she often looks to her fellow alumni when she needs help with a complex problem, hiring new talent, or simply wants an alternative perspective on a day-to-day challenge. As technology continues to rapidly expand the suite of tools and methods available to insights professionals, she has found this network of knowledge sharing to be an increasingly critical component of success in the field.
Jackie notes the importance of having guiding principles, and how hers have helped her earn and obtain success as the now VP of Consumer Insights at Beam Suntory. Her first guiding principle is to focus her work in service to solving the business problem and minimizing risk rather than in service to the methodology. She sites this principle as serving her well in her career, helping her navigate almost every aspect of each role she’s had. Her second principle is objectivity, and along with that, integrity. As the voice of the consumer and the advocate for the consumer, it is imperative to play the role as objectively as possible as it will educate the organization properly in order to make better business decisions. These guiding principles have allowed Jackie to be a strategic partner on a cross-functional team, rather than merely a transactional function or a “do-er.”
Jackie appreciates her role on the board of the A.C. Nielsen Center as a way to give back to the insights community and the alumni network that has provided her with so much support and collaboration throughout her career. As students in the program and future alumni, we’re incredibly lucky to have her support, encouragement and wisdom as we look to start our careers. We can only hope to be as successful and inspiring as she is one day!