How did your career journey lead you to Geneva Global?
I began my career at a large strategic communications firm in Washington, DC and worked on a variety of issues in public affairs and corporate communications. Over the years, I found myself increasingly interested in projects dealing with corporate social responsibility and sustainability, so I pushed myself to work on projects that helped expand my understanding of current environmental, social, and governance factors.
The UPS Foundation was one of my clients and served as my introduction to the philanthropic world. Our team helped the Foundation communicate internally and externally about UPS’s history and legacy of diversity and inclusion along with present day initiatives, programs, and humanitarian efforts. This window into philanthropy opened my eyes to the possibility of working more directly in the sector and after six years of agency life, I decided to pursue an “in-house” opportunity to focus on this interest. Through a serendipitous chain of events, I landed at Geneva Global a year and a half ago as its Marketing and Communications Manager and have enjoyed bringing my passions for communications and philanthropy together.
What fulfills you most about your role?
I love that I get to work across Geneva Global’s teams and leverage my colleagues’ experiences and expertise to strengthen our corporate communications efforts. I have also worked closely with our Education Team and the Girls First Fund to help them tell their stories and showcase the phenomenal work they do across the globe. Geneva Global’s international reach adds so much value to our work and developing strong relationships with my colleagues brings me a lot of professional and personal joy.
I also co-lead our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) team and I am indebted to my team members who are consistently open, honest, empathetic, and supportive as we continue our growth and development. Their dedication to making both our company and the world more equitable places inspires me and helps me feel grounded in our rapidly changing world.
How has the communications landscape changed over the last few years?
The rise of digital has drastically changed the way people consume information, and therefore changed the way communications professionals need to disseminate that information. Our society is constantly connected to the internet, so we need to be able to reach people where they are – whether that’s through mobile, smart TVs, or podcasts.
Paid media opportunities have exploded in the last five years. The news cycle changes minute to minute so communications professionals have had to learn how to cut through the noise, and paid media can offer that possibility. While you can never rely solely on paid media, it’s an important part of the mix to consider.
What are you most excited about for the future of communications?
The rise of virtual communications during the pandemic has opened a lot of opportunities to engage people all over the world. While face-to-face communications will always be critical, they can sometimes be cost-prohibitive and harder to organize, especially with the pandemic’s health and safety constraints. I’ve really enjoyed getting to “meet” and work with colleagues and peers at other organizations across the globe and in so many different time zones thanks to the ease of video conferencing.
We’ve leaned into this at Geneva Global and partnered with Ashoka and the Chandler Foundation to host a series of virtual salons over the last year discussing the future of systems change funding. Being able to have folks from so many different countries all in one “room” has been a gamechanger logistically.
I think we’ll continue to reap the benefits from virtual communications and find the right balance with in-person meetings and events as the pandemic continues to shift course.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in communications?
- Never stop learning. Dive deeply into the issues that your company or client cares about. Do your research and ask the tough questions.
- Say yes if you’re given the opportunity to travel for work. Some of my most rewarding memories from my career to-date are when I was able to meet colleagues in different offices and experience our work through their eyes. These were all invaluable learning opportunities.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Collaboration breeds creativity and can help you work through challenges.
- Read, read, read! Communicators are storytellers at heart, and you never know where or when inspiration may strike.
What are you reading right now?
I recently finished Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu, which was unlike anything I’d ever read before. It was insightful, sharp, moving, and thought-provoking. My own words can’t do the plot and creative narrative structure justice, so check out IndieBound’s summary.
Up next is a selection for a book club I’m in (with some of my Geneva Global colleagues!) – Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler.
Where do you get your news?
I get almost all my news online. I’ve always taken the approach of starting close to home and branching out from there when seeking out news. I start with a local outlet (WTOP), then head to regional/national news (Washington Post), and then broaden to international (CNN, BBC, Reuters). I like to know what’s going on in my own backyard as well as what’s happening all around the world.
A few of the publications I read for thoughtful news analysis and opinions are The Atlantic, Vox, and The New Yorker. I also check Twitter throughout the day for the latest and greatest. For any local DC folks, Popville and DCist are two of my favorite news and local commentary accounts.
How has your work-from-home journey been? Any tips or tricks?
To be completely transparent, I have struggled with my work-from-home journey over the last 18 months. I’m fairly extroverted and really enjoy the in-person dynamics of an office. I’ve had to figure out ways to maintain those social connections and thankfully Geneva Global has supported staff through regular Zoom meetings, JEDI workshops, JEDI book club discussions, trivia competitions, weekly team virtual lunches, and outdoor in-person lunches whenever possible.
Even though I’m based in DC, I still feel connected to my colleagues in Paoli (and others who work remotely) and love to get together when they pass through town. It’s also been great being so close to our parent company, Global Impact, which is based just across the Potomac River in Alexandria, VA.
While it’s not always easy, I’m extremely grateful that I get to work from home during the pandemic and help keep my friends, family, and community safe and healthy.
To meet the rest of our team, please click here.
Jenny Waldmann directs all aspects of Geneva Global’s communications, marketing, and corporate positioning efforts from strategy through execution. Prior to joining Geneva Global, Jenny was a senior consultant at APCO Worldwide, where she spent six years honing her role as a hybrid corporate communications practitioner and social responsibility expert by crafting and implementing strategic communications and media campaigns that positioned her clients for success. Jenny has helped dozens of organizations define and communicate their purpose to consumers, constituents, coalitions, employees, and investors and pushed them to find creative solutions to some of today’s most pressing issues.