How did you end up at Blueprint?
It all started with a member of my professional network. I knew someone in the application process who connected me directly to a Blueprint recruiter for client support. I had a lot of experience in customer service having previously worked at State Farm, BECU and Verizon. At Verizon, I was a call center supervisor, which shaped my management style. That was a high-stress environment with a 45% turnover rate. It was a crash course in learning how to identify the right people for a role. I had moved on from Verizon to help my little brother start his own business when I heard Blueprint was hiring. I was helping him with staffing, building up inventory and establishing a relationship with the regulatory board for the industry he was breaking into. I loved every aspect of that and realized I love improving processes and identifying people to fill new positions. I am always looking for opportunities to further my career and development, so Blueprint seemed like a great fit.
You’ve been at Blueprint for six years, how has your career advanced during that time?
I joined Blueprint as an English Customer Support Agent for a new client we had just started working with. I was promoted to a Team Lead at the beginning of 2016 and then to an Operations Program Manager (OPM) in November of 2016. I’m one of five OPMs, and our roles mainly involve identifying client needs and making sure we’re exceeding them. But additionally, we help support and guide our Customer Support Team Leads.
Jessica and her partner, Mark.
A lot of them have never been managers before, so as an OPM, one of our biggest goals is to up-level our Team Leads and help develop them into great mentors and managers. When I was a Team Lead, I helped build out the billing division for the client, which is now one of the biggest divisions we run for them. As an OPM, I created what we call our Callers role, which is when we make calls directly to the clients’ users. It has been exciting being a part of building the engagement and watching it grow over the last six years.
What has been your favorite part of working at Blueprint?
Honestly, I love that all employees are given the opportunity to further themselves. It forces us to grow as individuals as we take on new opportunities. Working for a brand-new engagement and throwing myself into it has forced me to come out of my shell. I never used to like working with people because I’ve always been one to like knowing what comes next and people can be pretty unpredictable. But, working here, I’ve been able to overcome that, which has allowed me to shine as an employee.
How does Blueprint provide these types of growth opportunities?
One way is through the Innovation Cup. I participated 2 years ago – it was a very fun experience that allowed me to interact with different people across the company. On our own engagements, we can get a little isolated, but things like the Innovation Cup give us the opportunity to connect with others to learn as well as teach. That interaction is how you advance at Blueprint. You won’t know what opportunities are available unless you are communicating with others across the company, and Blueprint provides so many opportunities for us all to interact.
Through the Innovation Cup, I met Gary Nakanelua, Managing Director Innovation & Experimentation, and he became my mentor. Gary’s a tinkerer who loves figuring things out. He pushes me to think of ways to try things differently and asks a lot of questions, which has helped me grow and bring that same attitude and mindset to my own direct reports. I don’t have a formal degree; college wasn’t a priority for me. I don’t think that I would be as skilled as I am today if Blueprint hadn’t been there to force me out of my comfort zone. In fact, that’s one of our mantras – Be comfortable being uncomfortable – that is where growth happens.
Why wasn’t college in the cards for you?
I have a big family. I have 3 older brothers and 2 younger sisters – and there is a 14-year age difference between the youngest and the oldest. We’re all half siblings, but we don’t differentiate. My mother got pregnant at 15 years old and was always working, so being the oldest girl, it often fell to me to take care of my siblings, even some of the older boys. My mother is wonderful, but I don’t think she was ready for kids that young. She was in a domestic violence situation at one point in my youth. As difficult as it may be, I think people should talk about these things so they can be more normalized. That way people who are experiencing these situations will find it easier to come forward and seek help. I ended up working right out of high school because I wanted to help take care of my little sisters and send them to college. Because I was often the one taking care of my siblings, though, I realized that I really enjoyed watching people grow and flourish as human beings. Now, I love coaching people and love overseeing people management. That is where my passion is – I figure out what makes people tick and find the best ways to support them.
How do you think the way you grew up has helped you succeed at Blueprint?
My upbringing helped equip me to deal with different scenarios and types of people and taught me to think on my feet. On my team at Blueprint, there are so many different personalities and cultures, so I work hard to figure out what’s going to work for each individual. People from different cultures like to receive feedback in different ways, for example, and I’m great at quickly understanding what helps people thrive.
One of Jessica’s passions is making thoughtful gift baskets for her friends, family and coworkers.
What do you think makes Blueprint unique?
Blueprint has an “If you see it, you can create it” type of culture. The support coordinator role in our engagement, for example, was created because someone saw a need and knew that they could fill it. It is part of what Blueprint thinks of as its “pitch culture.” If someone wants to do something within the company, they can pitch for it. It is an amazing way to find those innovative, forward-thinking leaders within your own company. Basically, you explain why the company needs it and why and how you’re the one to do it. If the company believes enough in the idea, then the company will back it up with money, time and resources to help make it a reality. I think being able to build your own role rather than having to fit yourself into something else is just the coolest thing a company can allow you to do.
What’s something you like to do outside of work?
I keep notes throughout the year in my phone anytime I hear or learn someone’s favorite color, favorite movie, favorite type of food or treat or something they just really enjoy. Then on their birthday, or their work anniversary or some other reason to celebrate or encourage someone, I’ll make them a gift basket. I love curating gifts for people – it’s so fun and rewarding to surprise someone with a really thoughtful gift.