Meet Jena: Part Superhero, Part PM, All About the Client

Jena2Walking into work each morning guarantees some sort of surprise when Jena’s in the office. And this girl is always in the office. You’ll find her watering your desk plants, singing show tunes, crunching down Chick-Fil-A crushed ice or soothing customers with her syrupy southern drawl. She’ll greet you with the warmest of welcomes before she grabs her cape to play Wonder Woman for Black Bear. No one knows how she does it all, but we caught up with her to catch a small glimpse into the life of a real-world superhero.

Creative Turned BOSS

Jena has done it all. Really. She graduated with a degree in communications, which lead to a three-year stint in marketing and public relations, editing and pitching ideas to clients. She then spent roughly seven years in the corporate graphic design world before transitioning to project management in agency life. Though it may seem like a windy path, Jena suggests that it was just a natural progression for her.

Project management certainly isn’t for everyone, but one of the things that drew Jena to this role is the opportunity she has “to be both a creative and a good critic. And while I love design, it was always a path meant to lead me here. Maybe I don’t get my hands dirty with the actual design work as much, but I still get to play in that world. Plus, I like the additional challenge of managing projects, clients and teammates.” It is indeed a challenge. Managing a small team, keeping clients up to date and happy, and making sure projects are being cranked out on time with an A+ delivery is no easy feat!

Family First Means Happy Clients

With a consistently full plate, Jena has had to create a system to make the most of her day and leave clients with smiles on their faces. This starts with our team, or, as Jena calls us, her family. She knows that to make clients happy, her family needs to be happy first. This includes using bribery with SweetTarts and gas station runs for afternoon hunger pains (can you tell we’re a hungry bunch?). She wants us to be machine-like in the sense that we are all individual parts, but to run efficiently, we need to work together smoothly.

After the office mama bear has made sure we’re ready to go, she tackles the clients. With nearly 300 clients, Jena has to be on the top of her game every single day to avoid being buried under hundreds of emails and requests. Her desk is immaculate and she carries at least one notebook and pen at all times. Her pen never stops scribbling and she is always updating projects based on client feedback. This girl’s got organization down.

The Science of Communication

Post-it notes and a hands-free headset help Jena stay organized, but she’s found that organization is only part of the key to success. The other? Communication skills. Despite the fact that we communicate with people every day, honed communication skills are just that: a skill. To do well in the field of project management requires the ability to communicate effectively with your team and clients.

Jena approaches communication with clients a little differently than the standard “the customer is always right” method. She focuses on honest (and sometimes tough) communication, which can mean putting your foot down instead of rolling over for the client. Though, she says that even more important than this is flexibility. “You have to be able to roll with the punches. I can’t break down every time a client gets upset. I can’t pitch a hissy when something doesn’t go as I planned.” Staying cool under pressure also helps to manage clients, difficult situations and our sometimes unruly family.

Putting the “Personal” in Personal Touches

Any one of us in Black Bear’s sleuth of bears would describe Jena as heartwarming and kind. It’s this quality that makes her so successful as a project manager and earns her superhero status. In agency life, everything is about the client. When will their project be completed? How do they feel about the completed project? How do we manage their expectations? We live for the client, so you can imagine that being personable is incredibly important. Jena prioritizes every project as if it were her own, personally ensuring success.

Despite her superior relationship-building skills, no one—not even a superhero—can make everyone happy. There will always be unhappy clients or unsuccessful projects, but no one will ever say they hated working with us. Why? Because of Jena. She’s a southern girl, which means she wants to get to know you and learn about your hot buttons. She wants to know what makes you happy and what makes your clients happy. If she can keep your customers happy, chances are, she’ll keep you happy. And that is why clients love her.

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