Jena Weatherspoon, Integrated Marketing Manager at YDesign Group, is a Sacramento native with a passion for consumer-focused marketing. She joined the AMA Sacramento Valley board as VP of Programming with 6+ years of strong success developing and executing effective strategic marketing initiatives within a variety of industries. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing) from CSU Sacramento and is currently a part-time MBA student at Syracuse University. When she can, she enjoys indulging in new food and travel with friends and family.
How did you get started with AMA?
One of my professors had mentioned AMA in one of my classes at Sacramento State. I also heard about it from my marketing manager at one of my previous jobs. I had the intention to join AMA after I graduated from Sac State. As soon as I graduated I was also applying for MBA programs and as soon as I got through all of that – getting through the GMAT and all of the MBA applications – I decided that it was time for me to join the AMA so that i could get access to resources that I needed for school, but also for my job in marketing as well. That’s how I decided to join AMA. Then, maybe about three or four months later, I started to consider getting more involved with AMA because I was wanting to learn more from other marketers and be able to gain expertise in other areas. I also wanted to contribute my expertise to a chapter that I would be able to help benefit and help grow. One of my core beliefs, and something I really value is when people use their talents and skills and are able to further things that are going on in the community. Especially marketers or other people in their specific sphere of influence in their specific industry. It just benefits the world all together. That was one of the motivations for me getting involved with AMA.
Who was the professor who encouraged you to join AMA and what class did he teach?
Professor Brian Baldus is the professor who was involved with AMA. He taught a digital marketing course. He talked about AMA in class. There were surveys that he would offer to students as an opportunity to earn some extra credit. They would take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes and usually covered some type of study. There were other points where he would mention tactics that AMA was using for marketing purposes. He would bring some of his AMA experience or other AMA chapters’ experience into the conversation. That’s how I got a little bit more information on what the AMA really was.
There was one AMA collegiate chapter student that was in that class who would come up with surveys or talk about the surveys he was doing with the collegiate chapter. That member may have been a lead of some capacity. That’s the impression I got.
When did you graduate from Sac State?
What was your degree?
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing
What is your title as a board member with AMA and what are your responsibilities?
I am with AMA as the VP of Programming for the Sacramento Valley chapter. What that entails really is to oversee and lead all of the programming efforts for AMA Sacramento Valley. This includes events, any kinds of sponsorships efforts, and those types of initiatives. Really the purpose (for volunteers) is to get resources from the AMA community to marketers in the Sacramento Valley so they learn more about marketing in different areas, but also so they can get more involved and engage more with the marketing community and engage more with the marketing profession in general. I think that one of the key benefits that AMA provides is resources for people to be able to learn more and that is where programming comes in. It also helps people to learn about AMA and whether they want to get involved on a bigger scale or if they are interested in joining AMA. Sometimes if they haven’t joined yet then the events are a great opportunity for them to learn more about what we do and to join.
What I typically do is have conversations with the speakers. We source speakers from various different spheres of influence. I set the agreement up with the speakers. We discuss what the presentation will be like. Will it be a workshop? Will it be more of a discussion? Will it be more of a presentation style? We have those conversations and then we decide what direction we’re going to go. At that point is when we start to schedule the actual event. Once the event is scheduled on the programming side we develop communications such as a small prospectus and sometimes some graphics. It depends on the use case. Then we manage a calendar that has all of the events listed and we report this back to the national AMA. The events we are involved with and the events we are going to be putting on or even the past events. After that we have continued conversations with people who are going to be presenting. Then what we do is we facilitate the event. After the event we have follow up conversations to get feedback from our chapter leaders and members about how things went, looking for any areas of improvement in the future. So it involves leading the efforts on the programming side for events for chapter members, the public, and people getting involved in AMA. It also includes managing the calendar for events and communicating that with the communications teams and graphic design teams to be able to send their communications out and promote the events.
Can you talk about your decision to become VP of Programming and some of the challenges that you faced in your role?
The reason I decided to become VP was actually I have pretty extensive experience in the events area and relationships building area and I thought this was probably the area that I would be able to provide the most value for AMA. So that’s when I decided that the VP of Programming position would be the best fit for me. I think some challenges that I ran into are:
- Learning the systems that are being used and the ways that they’re being used. I think that’s something that you run into anywhere though. Anytime you’re learning new systems when there’s already a process set up it’s like you have to learn the way that that system is being used for that specific use case. So whereas I might have been using the program before for something else, now it’s something totally different and there’s a whole process set up, and to learn that process is interesting. It’s very straightforward, it’s just learning it is challenging.
- The time commitment is another challenge for people who work a lot and I do work a lot so that is a little bit of a roadblock for me, trying to navigate that as well.
Those are probably the top two challenges I’ve run into.
As someone who is passionate about business management can you talk about how you brought your skills into the role and any personal gains that have come out of your role as VP of Programming?
In terms of business management, I feel that the organization skills, the planning skills, and the ability to communicate with others are really important business management skills that I brought with me to the role. I think as I have been in the role I have also learned more of that which is really nice. I’ve also learned more about working with other people, especially other marketers. It’s very different to work with other marketers than it is to work with other people in other industries. Being able to hear from other marketers and being able to communicate with them has been really beneficial to me.
(Excitement) is a general feeling with event planning. Virtual events are different from in-person events. For in-person events, we’re setting it up and then there’s a bunch of planning that goes on behind the scenes. Now that we are doing virtual events right now, there’s a lot of planning that’s going on but it’s very different. If we were doing in person events right now and it’s — you know you have it set up and you have your plan, you’re doing your different items on your plan to get up to the event date. The event date comes and it’s exciting to see it playing out. With (virtual) events for AMA because it’s virtual it doesn’t have the same affect. For me, it remains in that process part and then once the event is over we’re excited about how it went and we’re excited about what we got out of it. It doesn’t have the same effect as event day when we’re running around and we’re trying to make sure we’re on our P’s and Q’s.
Where are you currently working? What is your title?
I currently work at YDesign Group and my title is Integrated Marketing Manager.
Can you talk about some changes that you see in the marketing space in the future and how do you see marketers evolving?
challenge for marketers in the future because a lot of marketing — It depends what side of marketing you’re in — but a lot of it does have to do with consumer behavior, right? So learning how to connect with consumers in a virtual manner is going to pose a challenge. On one end, it’s good because we get data. On the other end we don’t get that human connection and data does not tell us everything about the human. So I believe as we continue to move in that direction marketers are going to have to adapt and come up with creative ways to connect with people as human beings because people still want human connection regardless of how much technology is out there. The second thing is that the world is going more AI, AR, etc. There will be more systems and machine learning. Things knowing more about you before you even hit the door. So marketers are going to have to evolve in that way as well especially when it comes to privacy. You have to start to think more seriously about the implications on the side of privacy and the law. And also what does that mean for us. For example wearables. Like wearable technology is here already and that will continue in the future. What does that mean for marketers who are marketing shorts? Or marketing a watch? Now we have Apple Watch, but in the future it might be that the watch is actually in our arm, that is the technology right? So those are the kinds of things that marketers will have to evolve towards and they will need to think more about how they’re going to remain nimble in those environments and remain on the cutting edge really.
Can you talk about your hobbies and your interests?
What I really like to do is spend time with friends. I like to eat. Food is my favorite thing. So I like to try new restaurants. I’m in an MBA program, so I don’t get a lot of time outside of work and school and then the AMA Sacramento Valley responsibilities. I love to get out and eat food. I also love to travel, but I haven’t had a chance because of COVID. Hopefully I do some travel in the near future when things open up more.
You said you like restaurants. Have you seen any new restaurants pop up that you just had to try even though you couldn’t sit inside?
Part of my enjoyment of food is the experience. A lot of times I don’t like the way they do takeout food. I will get takeout from restaurants that I’ve been to before, but only some restaurants because I don’t always like the way they do it.
I did try a new restaurant recently. There’s a restaurant called Papa Giani’s in Cameron Park. People have been raving about this restaurant and I heard (about it) over the years. So I thought “I’m just going to drive up there to get it” and I went and it was closed. I decided to go back up there to get some food and it was closed again because it was during a time where everything was shut down. I thought “next time I’m not going to go on a Monday and I am going to go before the time they’re supposed to close”. So I went and I grabbed it and it was de-licious and I was so happy that I went. I really fought for it though. I had to fight for it. They are on the list of restaurants that I will do takeout with, and I will probably get it again today!
If you could travel next week where would you go?
I love Spain so I would go back to Spain. I always have new places I want to go, but I love the places I’ve been so much that I just want to go back to those places and Spain is one of my favorites. Barcelona is one of my favorite cities but if I had a second choice I would probably go somewhere I hadn’t been like somewhere in Northern Europe would be fun to go to like Germany or Norway. I’ve also always wanted to go to Ireland. So eventually I’ll make it. But I think I would definitely go to Spain if I could go somewhere right now.