In this installment of Women Who Wow, meet Wilmington-based Jennifer Smuts, the Chief Marketing Officer at Connolly Gallagher. Jenn has been a longtime volunteer of the Legal Marketing Association and has held various leadership roles in the organization. I met Jennifer through the LMA, and we clicked right away. I admire her for many reasons, including the fact that she truly is supportive to other women in the industry and is one of those people who gives to others without expecting anything in return.
Recently, Jennifer joined 2020 Women On Boards, whose overall goal is to educate women about how they can navigate their own contacts to get on corporate boards and be a part of the larger national conversation, an incredibly worthwhile cause to give women a seat at the table (you can read more about her work with them below).
Do you have a mentor?
Throughout my career in professional services marketing I’ve not had many mentors, people who actually took me under their wing and afforded me insight and access. Instead I identified people I could relate to but knew I could learn from them. (Perhaps that the definition of a role model!?)
From attending their educational sessions to subscribing to their blogs I would cull what I valued and either adopt or adapt as needed. For example, I respect and appreciate Marcie Borgal Shunk. I first met her in 2006/2007 while working at BTI. She came to present at my firm on the latest research pertaining to market forecasts. Her style was formal yet approachable and her insights were spot-on. I continue to work with Marcie whenever I can because inevitably I learn something from her and after so many years – I call her a friend.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
The advice I would offer young women who want to succeed in professional service marketing is not to silo yourself within the industry. There is so much cool and innovative stuff happening in other sectors that can influence your work product. Also I recently participated in an iMap Strategic Solutions workshop and learned so much (more) about how to adapt, motivate, communicate, achieve and grow. Never stop learning!
How are you breaking barriers faced by women in your field?
In 2019 I got involved with 2020 Women on Boards in order to break barriers for women trying to secure a corporate board seat. This 501 (c) 3 is a global education, public awareness and advocacy campaign urging corporations to meet or exceed 20% women directors on their boards. The 2020WOB Chair Retreat was hosted in Dallas last week, and I had the opportunity to meet women from around the world who not only believe in this mission, but we are all rolling up our sleeves and doing something about it. There is something to be said for grassroots efforts –they are invigorating to me!