Lunch with Jackie Schaffer, Wife, Mother and the BOSS!

IMG_5895-SchafferFamily_webLunch with Jackie Schaffer, Wife, Mother and the BOSS!
By Ed Roberts

I’ve had the great fortune to collaborate with and work for some truly dynamic women in the design and advertising industry—none more brilliant than those who choose to work within corporate in-house teams. Even on this very blog, I get to collaborate with two strong, passionate women whose salient views and keen insights on the best practices for corporate in-house departments has helped clear my view to better analyze my own situation in-house.


Jackie Schaffer is one of those brilliant, young women you meet that makes you instantly think, “Wow, she has it all!” Once you get to really know Jackie, you quickly realize that nothing was just given to her. You learn that she has set each and every brick perfectly in the foundation of her career, building an impressive résumé that has propelled her to the top of “her” game. You learn that Jackie is so much more than a Vice President and General Manager of Cella Consulting, she is also a wife, a mother and a woman to truly admire—a boss whose worked hard for it all. Here’s a golden nugget I recently received from Jackie:


“Of course not all young people are ready for the responsibility that I stepped up to, but neither are some people with 10 or 20 years experience. The best managers recognize HiPos (High Potential Employees) and push them to reach their full potential. This is what I am passionate about: age is nothing but a number. Potential, effort, and results are what we need to promote and celebrate. This is not to undermine experience, but it’s only part of the equation.”


I would like for you to have lunch with 2013 HOW Design Live Conference speaker Jackie Schaffer. I hope to see you later this week in San Francisco. Enjoy!


What was your earliest creative memory?
My grade school art teacher … she had every color possible of Sam & Libby ballerina flats to match her funky outfits! While it’s not a memory of me specifically being creative, it is a fond memory of the teacher who first introduced me to art.


What drew you to major in magazine journalism and concentrate in graphic design; did your parents support your decision?
In high school I joined the yearbook staff, which was actually a class called “magazine journalism.” My senior year I became the editor-in-chief and loved everything associated with that position. Looking back on the experience, it was like a mini “head of creative services” role. I was able to manage people, deadlines, vendors and even got to design and write.

Because I thoroughly enjoyed working on the yearbook, I pursued a college that offered “magazine journalism” as a major. So when the time came to select a school, I enrolled at the School of Journalism at the University of Maryland and chose to concentrate on writing and graphic design. My parents didn’t truly understand what graphic design was when I entered college, but once I graduated and got a job that paid pretty well, they definitely supported my decision as it moved me off the family payroll!


If you could enter a time machine and go back in time, what advice would the experienced Vice President and General Manager Jackie Schaffer of today give to the inexperienced in-house manager Jackie Schaffer of the past?
What a great question! I think I’d tell inexperienced Jackie to not take herself so seriously. I had a lot of responsibility at a young age, so I was probably more conservative than many of my peers in the field. And while I believe your mid-20s can be some of the best years of your life—you have enough money to have fun but not enough to have obligations—each year keeps getting better, personally and professionally.


During your career, what’s been your favorite place to eat lunch?
When I worked in DC I’d treat myself to a take-out from Legal Seafood. They had a Caesar salad that came with Cajun chicken … amazing!


I enjoy Legal Seafood too! I ate at their Copley Place location in Boston last year—between HOW Design Live Conference sessions—their whole-bellied clams were ridiculously good.


Speaking of the HOW Design Live Conference, it’s in San Francisco this year and I was glad to see that you’ll be speaking. What interesting topic will you be discussing in your session?
I’ll be discussing chargebacks—why they are and aren’t great. Lots of teams that are not chargeback groups assume changing their funding model will solve many of their challenges, but the grass isn’t always greener …


Congratulations to both you and Joe on the birth of your son, Cameron John.


How do you perfectly balance being a wife, mother of two and vice president and general manager of Cella Consulting?
To say that I balance all these things perfectly would be overreaching. For me it’s about finding balance over a period of time. Luckily, I’m married to a great guy who enjoys being “Super Dad” (as he calls himself) with the kids when I’m traveling for work. I believe there is one key to finding balance that usually gets overlooked—carving out a little time just for you. It’s hard to do, but on a Friday night with a glass of wine, a gossip magazine, and a hot bath, I can achieve it!


First Lady Michelle Obama has spoken extensively about work-life balance. From your perspective is this rhetoric or reality?
It’s not easy and I think it has a lot to do with where you work. I’m fortunate to work in a TRUE results-oriented company. No one is checking to see if my “butt is in a seat.” Rather the leadership at Cella Consulting is results focused, allowing me the flexibility to own and customize a degree of work-life balance best suited for me. I’ll admit it, occupying a leadership role makes work-life balance easier to achieve. The reality is that I believe it’s our responsibility as leaders to help our employees think of creative ways to achieve work-life balance.


What is Cella Consulting?
We are a management-consulting firm dedicated to servicing the in-house creative community. We help leaders with the business side of their creative departments: setting and executing strategy, improving processes, selecting and implementing technology solutions, and so much more. In addition to our consulting services, we offer coaching, training and networking opportunities for in-house leaders.


What would be the key benefits I’d receive if I chose to partner with Cella Consulting?

  1. Setting strategy: often creative leaders are fighting fires and don’t take the time to set priorities, we can help you in completing this type of task
  2. Getting stuff done: creative leaders have enough or, more often than not, too much on their plates and need the support of someone they trust to help them get initiatives done
  3. External validation of best practices: it’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’ve worked at the same place for a long time. Cella Consulting can provide you with insights on fresh, new perspective that are informed by best-in-class creative operations


Join me tomorrow for second helpings with my fellow InHOWse Designer Blog contributor Jackie Schaffer.


160x160_SuperTLike what you read here? InHOWse Designer Blog contributor Ed Roberts will be giving a live, webinar presentation on how to supercharge your in-house team on July 24 – sign up today!


Ed Roberts is a Creative Director who has assembled a brilliant in-house team of strategic, creative superheroes. Together they recently won 16 ADDY’s and three Telly awards for print, Web and broadcast work developed for ElectriCities of NC, an organization that manages billions of dollars in electric generation assets and serves over 500,000 consumers. Follow Ed (@InHouseObs) on Twitter for more inspiration and insight.