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Elizabeth Bellsey Marketing and Business Development Coordinator BAM Architecture Studio

Elizabeth Bellsey
Friday’s Leadership Lunch was a lively interview with Jim Kent, Associate Principal and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Thornton Tomasetti. Program Planner Margot Jacqz, owner and recruiter of JACQZ Co., led the interview with thought-provoking questions related to marketing. Kent answered with helpful advice based upon his unique leadership experiences.

[expand title=”Click here to read more about the April 2015 Leadership Lunch…”] Jim Kent has an unconventional background, having studied geophysics during his undergraduate career and then working as a journalist. He commented that geophysics taught him many skills that easily transitioned into marketing, namely that both involve working with stories and events that happen at different time scales. Excelling in narrative more than geophysics, his cites his journalism work as both improving his writing and teaching him to write on a deadline. In addition to writing for dailies and weeklies, Kent initially freelanced for Schlumberger. This led to Schlumberger hiring him as the editor of its internal publications. As a large company, the magazine Kent arranged and edited was the primary way of maintaining communication among the various offices and field locations. After learning about his background, Margot Jacqz asked Kent how his skills as an editor and working with scientists prepared him to engage technical staff in outward-facing tasks. Kent explained that he begins by asking questions they never ask themselves. A primary question is, “Who is the audience?” From a marketing perspective, he would look at what the audience wanted to hear and what their potential prejudices might be. Kent would also ask about the objective of any marketing piece and what the company was hoping to achieve. When Thornton Tomasetti reached out to him to lead its Communications Department, Kent was in the fortunate position to design the position he was about to take on, and provide structure for the Communications Department. After starting at Thornton Tomasetti, his first 90 days were spent interviewing various managers and leaders of the company, inquiring about the organization, its goals and challenges. His efforts of building up a successful Communications Department led Kent to take on the Marketing Department, as well. After looking into the issues faced by the Marketing Department, he felt that the marketers were always being handed more tasks without time to complete the ones they had. With this understanding, he set up an infrastructure that allowed the marketing department to prioritize what needed to be done. Martha Huguet, CPSM, Director of Marketing at Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, found that Jim Kent’s experiences in leadership provided helpful takeaways for those who attended. “Since I come from an engineering background,” Huguet commented, “Jim Kent provided several excellent tips for how marketers can help [engineers] tell their stories.” Speaker Jim Kent is Associate Principal & Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Thornton Tomasetti. He has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and communications for scientific and technical organizations in the U.S. and Europe. Joining Thornton Tomasetti in 2007, he leads internal and external communications, media relations, web and online communications, and firm-wide marketing functions. Jim was previously with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Thomson Reuters, and Schlumberger. He started his career in newspapers, working for dailies and weeklies in the northeastern U.S. and is co-author of “A Moveable Shore: The Fate of the Connecticut Coast” (Duke University Press, 1992), a layman’s guide to coastline evolution related to climate change. Planner/Facilitator Margot Jacqz, owner and recruiter of JACQZ Co., has been a recruiter since the 1980s. She has worked both independently and as a part of a team consulting with architecture and design offices to assess requirements, identify, and bring in strategic leadership talent. Before being recruited to recruiting, she was at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, mostly as a managing editor of their newspaper, Skyline; she was also a contributing editor at Interiors magazine, contributor of the architecture notes for the first Access Guide to New York, and an instructor in the IAUS High School Program. She has an AB from Princeton; although this degree is in Architecture, she can’t draw.[/expand]