At least once a quarter Daily Capital will highlight one of Personal Capital’s 150+ multi-talented employees. Featured today are thoughts from Jacqueline Quasney, Marketing Communications Manager about getting a Master’s degree, studying abroad, politics, working with George Stephanopoulos at ABC, and her role at Personal Capital.
Name: Jacqueline Quasney
Education: B.A. in Political Communications, M.A in Media & Politics
Role at Personal Capital: Head of Marketing Communications
How long have you been with Personal Capital: Since Sept 2014!
Hobbies: DIY projects, swimming and spending time with the pup
Family status: Newly married to Evan and pup mom to Mabel, 8 weeks.
Investment Style: Savvy and smart (with the help from Personal Capital)
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Sam: Please share with us some of your main responsibilities at Personal Capital and what you hope to accomplish?
Jacqueline: Currently, I’m heading up Marketing and Communications at Personal Capital, responsible for all creative and strategic communications initiatives to help us reach new audiences. I truly believe we are improving people’s lives by providing the right tools and education to help make better decisions about their personal finances.
I hope to change the way people think about their personal finances. Personal Capital profoundly changed the way my husband and I think about our finances; I want to have the same impact on other people’s lives by starting a conversation about money, or providing insight for better ways to think about how to use money. We’re helping people think differently about money- and hopefully using our app to do so – I hope to drive change in the personal finance and wealth management fields by helping people understand their habits and change how they think about their money to achieve financial success.
Sam: Why did you decide to get an undergraduate degree in Political Science and go to London afterward?
Jacqueline: My original plan after graduation was “getting a job” – the obvious step for a college undergraduate, but I was not entirely sure what that would entail at the time. During my senior year of college I had an opportunity to apply to the Hansard Society, a program which places international students in a semester-long internship and graduate courses at the London School of Economics. I wanted to travel and experience living abroad instead of starting an entry-level job, so I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.
My internship placement was at the BBC in London where I worked on the news desk covering Parliament and partnering with C-Span to provide British Parliament coverage for the American audience. As a political journalism major, this was literally my dream job – and way better than “paper pushing” somewhere back in the States!
Sam: What were the main political and lifestyle differences you observed in London vs. the US?
Jacqueline: Working and going to school in a foreign country proved to be a great challenge, especially since this was the first time I had the chance to live abroad.
There are several differences between the American government and the Parliament system. Democracy means the same in both governing systems, but the structure, practices and laws differ in many ways. I took for granted everything I knew about the American governing system and had to learn a very different government system in such a short amount of weeks – and then had to provide contextual, professional reporting for the BBC and C-SPAN based on what I had learned! When I eventually returned to the States, I had a very different perspective of two different forms of democracy – which I think has been helpful for me learning how to appreciate multiple perspectives when solving problems or addressing cultural mores.
As for cultural differences, I observed that the Brits value taking more time to relax and spend time with their families. The average commute to work seemed shorter, as most of my colleagues lived near the office and would ride their bike to work or walk home for lunch. My colleagues also made it a priority to take more breaks throughout their days beyond the typical lunch hour. I still miss taking afternoon tea breaks with my colleagues to discuss the news or pop culture. Since returning to the US more than five years ago, I strive to squeeze in a morning or afternoon tea break now and then – just ask everyone around our office!
Sam: Why did you decide to transfer from London School of Economics to Georgetown to study Communications, Culture, & Technology (CCT)? Can you elaborate more on this program’s objectives.
Jacqueline: After London, I moved to Washington D.C. in 2006 to continue working in political journalism. With the historic 2008 presidential races ramping up, I strategically placed myself in the heart of all the action leading up to the elections. I enrolled in Georgetown’s CCT Master’s program as it was the first interdisciplinary program I found that explored the relationship between new technologies and culture, specifically understanding how new technologies were shaping our government and practices.
I began exploring this topic while in London and continued through my graduate studies understanding new media’s importance on the 2008 elections. YouTube became an important tool for reaching voters and was the first time it was used to promote presidential candidates. All major candidates announced their candidacies through a video and later held the first online presidential debates. I was fascinated by how new technology was beginning to change traditional power structures during presidential elections and established a central role for citizen participation. The way in which we use technology and how it shapes our behaviors is something I’m still exploring at Personal Capital. Technological advancements are changing the world we live in and it’s important to understand how this plays a role in our lives and our behaviors.
Sam: Please share your thought process for getting an MA vs. an MBA. It almost seems like getting an MBA is the default choice for those who want to pursue a Master’s degree.
Jacqueline: Making the decision to enroll in an MA program vs. an MBA is different for everyone, but for me it came down to age and work experience. At 22, I wasn’t even considering getting an MBA because I felt it didn’t apply to someone my age with no work experience. A Master’s degree felt like a better fit for continuing my education and would help set me apart from my peers.
And yes – the financial costs were also a factor as an MA degree, generally speaking, costs probably less than an MBA these days. Now, after being in the workforce for about 8 years and having more professional experience, I’ve considered getting an MBA as the next step to advancing in the workplace and would benefit from having the education and skills at this point in my career.
Sam: You were a digital producer at ABC News for This Week with George Stephanopoulos. That’s pretty neat! What are some of the things people might like to know that perhaps only you and a few behind the scenes would know. How do you think George got to be so big and trusted in the media space?
Jacqueline: Yes, talk about dream job! Working at ABC News was such a highlight and I remember pinching myself when I got the call to come in for an interview with George for the role as his digital producer for the show This Week. As a television news legend, George was respected for his past roles working as Bill Clinton’s Communications Director and various other political roles over the years. He had already established relationships with the political elite, which made him a natural fit reporting on the top political news of the day.
George was also very savvy when it came to social media and I remember we would wait to break major news through his personal blog “George’s Bottom Line” – which would drive my editor crazy that we were getting more traffic to his blog then on ABCNews.com homepage! He had a devoted fan base which I remember was very important to him and he would go out of his way to make you feel like he was personally giving you his analysis on the top stories. But he also understood how powerful social media was and how people’s news consumption was shifting from offline to online channels.
Sam: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the readers?
Jacqueline: I often have said this to my younger siblings, but it’s important to remember that a career takes a lifetime- and there are many opportunities along the way that shape the path you take. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the many leaps of faith along the way. Seek as many opportunities that come your way and never be afraid to try a new skill set or explore something new.
There are a lot of diverse backgrounds in the marketing department at Personal Capital. You can get an MBA, start a personal finance blog, or get an MA in CCT like Jacqueline. There’s no right or wrong way. The common denominator among folks at Personal Capital is the desire to connect with people in a meaningful way through an amazing product.
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