I really enjoy teaching at Columbia College. Outside of the classroom, I am president of JRS Consulting, Inc., a firm that helps organizations build leading brands and efficiently attract and motivate employees and customers. With a Master’s degree in counseling psychology, I also provide executive coaching to help clients meet their personal and professional goals.
My First Real Job
My first real job involved traveling the country with the Kraft Parkay Hot Air Balloon to introduce consumers and grocery store employees to the joys of ballooning and the lighter-than-air taste of Kraft Parkay Margarine. I worked for Edelman Public Relations, and my role involved arranging for the balloon to visit special events such as Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the Portland Rose Festival. Once there, I arranged for media interviews for the balloon pilots and took consumers and grocery store employees on balloon rides. It was a blast! I also conducted public relations for Willy Wonka candies (Oompas and Nerds) and worked with celebrities such as Bill Cosby.
As an officer at Golin/Harris International, one of the world's largest public relations firms, I helped build brands that included Levi's 501 jeans, Campbell's soup, L'eggs pantyhose, Hall's cough tablets, Jim Beam bourbon, Celestial Seasonings, and Kleenex.
Upon realizing that my work was significantly more effective if I conducted research on my clients’ target audiences before developing PR programming, I decided to develop a specialty in marketing research. I obtained my Master’s degree in counseling psychology from Northwestern and was named Director of Qualitative Research at Golin/Harris. My research helped bring in millions of dollars in new business to Golin/Harris and improved our PR programs’ effectiveness.
I founded JRS Consulting in 1993. I’ve had the opportunity to work with clients that include Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, Exelon Corporation, Baxter International, Tenneco Automotive, and Carrier Corporation. Our work is global, including clients in France and Italy.
What Drives Your Professional Career
I absolutely love my work. Every new client brings adventures. I feel like a detective as I learn about a new client and seek to uncover insights about their target audiences that will help them market more effectively. It’s so rewarding to help my students and my executive coaching clients learn new skills.
Advice or Help for Students
Take calculated risks; courage is trying something even when you are intimidated. I have a plaque in my office that says, “Do one thing every day that SCARES you.” (Eleanor Roosevelt said that.) I’ve achieved some of my greatest successes when I just held my nose and jumped.
Ask for help. Create a support system for yourself with colleagues and resources you can turn to for counsel. Your teachers and professionals in your field of interest will be flattered that you’ve asked for their advice.
Use your heart to find your passion, and use your head to put your passion into action. Once you determine what you most enjoy doing, develop a plan of action for making your fantasy job into a reality.