EVP of Weber Shandwick's Global Strategic Media Groupp>
Jennifer Risi is an example of the old adage about starting at the bottom and working your way up.
"I used to answer the phones when [the company] was small enough to have everything through switchboards," Risi says.
Referring to global powerhouse Weber Shandwick, such a statement proves how both she and the agency has grown in recent years. Today, at 29 years old, she is the EVP of Weber Shandwick's Global Strategic Media Group, a group she helped create in 2005.
The Global Strategic Media Group, which is based in New York, London, and Hong Kong, puts Risi in direct contact with some of the largest corporations around. She helped with brand awareness efforts in the US for German-based Siemans Corporation, updated the Allstate insurance brand, and helped Sealed Air Corporation reconnect with its iconic Bubble Wrap product. That campaign included a VNR that secured more than 158 placements and reached 24.8 million consumers.
"The global strategy media team gets to work with so many clients across our firm that every day is a different day," says Risi. "The nature of business was changing and the world was becoming flat. You need to have one team around the world."
Both Risi and Billee Howard, also an EVP and co-head with Risi of the Global Strategic Media Group, credit the entrepreneurial environment of the firm for Risi's successful climb. But Howard also cites her dedication to client service.
"Jen is exceptionally responsive; she is constantly accessible," says Howard. "Her ability to create an infrastructure and pull in resources gives [clients] the best possible service."
Risi graduated from Barnard, the women's college at Columbia University, in 1998 with a degree in psychology. Striving for a Ph.D., she applied for a job at Weber Shandwick (Shandwick International back then) to earn some extra money to continue her studies. She never left.
"Jen is extremely ambitious, very intelligent, and a perfectionist who never settles for less for herself or her client," says Howard, who has worked with Risi for eight years. "This is what has propelled her to be as successful… at such an early age."
After the firm won the Intercontinental Hotels Group account, she went to Madrid to sample one of the company's new guest programs. Risi pitched the business and will continue to work with the client.
"They get the senior counsel that they want and pay for," she says.
Risi was one of the leaders that created the alliance between Weber Shandwick and marketing expert Faith Popcorn's BrainReserve. With their client Tylenol, they targeted a younger audience by sponsoring the Tylenol Bowl, an extreme sport event.
Risi even works in PR in her spare time, donating her services to the American Cancer Society. She helped plan the first-ever "Winter White Bash," brainstorming for the idea, gathering co-sponsors such as Vidal Sassoon and Pink magazine, and doing much of the work in between. The event raised more than $15,000.
Whether she's volunteering for a nonprofit or working with one of her international corporate accounts, the thing that she enjoys most is seeing results.