Meet a Member: Jessica Hekmatjah
Name: Jessica Hekmatjah
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Years of Experience: 15 years
College Name & Degree(s): B.A., Magna Cum Laude, Mass Communication Studies – University of California, Los Angeles
Firm Name: BPM LLP
Firm City & State: San Francisco, CA
Firm Size: 900+
Email Address: [email protected]
- Board Member — Association for Accounting Marketing
- Business Development Committee — Allinial Global
- Leadership Development Group Co-Chair — Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas
LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicahekmatjah/
How does your firm communicate across generations to recruit, onboard, and retain emerging talent?
Technology is a big driver for us, and our digital transformation initiatives have a strong colleague focus. Through tools like Yammer, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint, we ensure our colleagues have access to tech that enables them to do their jobs efficiently and collaboratively. We also recently launched a Digital Accelerators program internally to give our client service teams access to the latest and greatest tech that can support in place of manual, repetitive work. This year, we made a strong push on social with the launch of ClearView Social to highlight not only our firm’s thought leadership, but also our firm’s culture and people-centric brand promise (Because People Matter) like our flex-work options and our Colleague Resource Groups.
What is the structure of your marketing department?
Our marketing department consists of three verticals working cross-functionally: MarComm, MarTech and Go-to-Market. Our MarComm team oversees external and internal communications, content creation, creative services, PR, client excellence programs, sponsorships, and events. Our MarTech team handles all things digital marketing, including the BPM website, marketing automation, social media, SEO, multimedia (video, vlogs, etc.), KPI reporting, and lead gen. Our Go-to-Market team, the newest vertical in our department, is charged with bringing all the pieces together. This is where all the magic happens: developing and executing strategies to help industry groups drive new business opportunities and growth.
What have you learned the hard way?
One of the hardest things I’ve learned – and it took me a long time to come to terms with it – is that you’re never going to make everyone happy. I have been fortunate in my career to be exposed to many different opportunities, which was a result of me constantly saying “yes.” Now that I am responsible to an entire department and a one-year-old, I have quickly learned the importance of saying “no” and empowering my team to do the same. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable – it means you’re growing.
What is a “must-know” for new accounting marketers?
I always encourage new marketers to get in front of as many people as possible. Getting the work done is one thing, but building relationships with people allows you to be seen as a trusted expert, not just someone who provides a service. Become genuinely interested in other people and what they do!
What are your special skills or what is something people may not know about you?
Throughout high school and college I was a waitress at a retirement center tailored for retired film stars. It taught me a lot about patience, empathy, and the importance of family.
What is the biggest benefit you receive from your AAM membership? What affect has AAM had on your career?
The biggest benefit for me has been building my network – meeting incredible marketers who have so much expertise to share. I had the opportunity to serve on the Growth Strategies Committee when I first joined, which was so fun. Currently, I have the privilege of sitting on the Board, and I’ve already learned so much. I’ve gained so much from my connections with these individuals and have come across so many opportunities that I never would have heard about otherwise (and I hope that I’ve been able to do the same for other members). I’m really stretching myself (and now my team/firm) to think differently and extend our vision around growth. AAM has allowed me to not only expand my network across the nation, but more importantly expand my skillsets as a marketer.
Share one marketing tip.
Always look at things from the buyer’s perspectives. Dale Carnegie said it best: “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” Whether we are serving our internal clients or external clients, we need to consider the other person’s personal “why.” How can we solve your problem? What are you looking to accomplish? Why are you asking? These are all questions good advisors ask their clients.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing accounting marketers today?
Educating internal clients on the evolving role of marketing and the role it plays in growth. Traditionally, marketing has primarily focused on increasing brand awareness and creating demand for specific products and services. Today, marketing is involved in so much more, including strategic planning, client excellence, and driving the firm’s growth strategy. We’re lucky that at BPM we have great partners who understand the value we bring, yet for many peers it remains a challenge.
What would you be doing if you had not become a marketer?
If I weren’t an accounting marketer, I think I’d enjoy doing something in fashion. While I was in college, I interned for a boutique marketing PR agency that represented major clients and talent. I can’t deny that the glitz and glamour of the industry and the celebrities I got to meet might have played into it. But I quickly realized that while it was fun, I couldn’t see myself making a career out of it. In particular, it was really hard to see the fruits of my labor. Still, every so often I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with it, and how much bigger my closet might be…
What is the biggest project you are working on right now?
Our biggest project right now is implementing advanced pricing methods with the support of Michelle Golden. The basic idea is to ensure we are providing clarity in scope by offering tailored solutions (not services) to solve our clients’ needs. While we have made great strides over the last couple of years to increase top line revenue through solutions not tied to hourly rates, we are thrilled to officially implement this strategy across the firm. It’s transformational not only in the way it impacts the client experience, but also in the way we operate as a firm and go to market. We just launched our leadership orientation with Michelle this week with over 90 of our leaders and will be looking to launch 1-2 pilot groups next. This is going to be a game changer.
If you had an unlimited budget, what is one thing you would implement immediately?
My dream project is to create a BPM app – one in which clients can log in and get what they need in real time. It would serve as a portal for clients to upload documents, receive notifications, check in on the progress of work, and communicate with their client service teams.
What books have you read recently that you feel would be beneficial to other AAM members?
Midnight Library is a fun read that reminds us of the infinite possibilities of life and the impacts our choices have. As marketers and growth drivers, we are constantly challenged to make quick decisions – the takeaway for me was to not focus so much on past decisions, but to keep looking forward and learn from them.
What blogs/social feeds do you subscribe to that are helpful?
Here are a few that I’ve found helpful:
- HBR alerts: Keeps me on top of trending topics
- Flipboard: It’s a tool that makes it easy to follow and read about your topics of interest.
- Accounting Today: For industry news
- I also subscribe to alerts from local journals so I know what’s going on in relevant geo areas.
Jessica was interviewed by Aaron Welch.
Aaron Welch is a writer and content marketer at BPM, one of the 50 largest accounting and advisory firms in the country. With nearly five years of agency, freelance and in-house experience, he has written for businesses in the financial services, technology, telecom, construction and life science industries, as well as for public sector clients.