"Meet Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, A Woman on the Move"Meet Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Chief Operating Officer of Hawthorne Direct

Tell us about how you chose your career/business and what your responsibilities include?

I’ve always felt as if advertising, entertainment, and other creative outlets were in my DNA. I started out working on the creative side of the TV and film industries and have since evolved that experience into the advertising industry, and specifically the direct response TV (DRTV) advertising industry. As COO of Hawthorne Direct, I divide my time between client communications and ensuring that our employees have the best possible work environment and experience. I really enjoy DRTV’s shorter format and how it allows me to focus on creative platforms that focus on client messaging, brand awareness, and brand building.


Tell us about the company you work for or own?

Hawthorne Direct is a full-service direct response advertising agency specializing in creative and production, long- and short-form media buying, teleservices and fulfillment management, and integrated marketing. We’ve raised persuasion to an art form and made performance a science. For nearly 30 years, our combination of right brain creativity with left brain media analytics, backed by exceptional thought leadership and talent, has helped to build some of the world’s biggest brands.

What are some of the most fulfilling projects you have been involved with so far?

Getting my MBA while working full time was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. It was both demanding and rewarding at the same time. I enrolled in a 3-year, part-time program while still maintaining my full work and travel schedule. During that period I didn’t waste a single minute of a single day – I was scheduled to the hilt. Even more gratifying is the fact that I did it for myself and not with the intention of shifting careers. It was very fulfilling graduating Magna Cum Laude with a double emphasis in both management and marketing. As a result of that experience I’ve been able to build certain core strengths, round out my creative skillset, and move into management.

Are there any people in your field you would like to meet and/or work with and have not yet had the opportunity?

Yes, definitely and I think about that every day. I’ve already worked with a handful of the top Fortune companies but I would like to continue to expand on that and continue to build out that list of the world’s best brands.

What are some of your favorite ways to network?

It’s great when you can spend time with clients and prospects over a casual meal or a cocktail in addition to the formal business environment. This is when you really get to know someone and connect with them on a new level. It gives you a much clearer picture of who you’re working with and what drives them both personally and professionally.

Do you have a mentor and what have you learned from him or her?

I had a mentor at WME, the talent agency I worked for previously, and I also have several here at Hawthorne Direct. Because mentors don’t typically “volunteer” for these positions, I took it upon myself to align myself with good mentors throughout my career. My mentors have served as guiding lights versus micromanagers. They allowed me the room to take ownership and to grow. This worked well in my case because if I’m given the slightest bit of direction I can take the ball and sprint with it.

What’s been the most surprising thing that has happened to you so far in your career?

Again, I would have to say that it was earning my MBA while maintaining a full-time job and starting a family. Unlike many women who sometimes have to choose among family, education, and career, I’ve been fortunate to be able to do all three concurrently. I didn’t have to put off one for the other and it’s been both rewarding and challenging at the same time.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?"Woman on the Move Jessica Hawthorne-Castro and Family"

Our work environment emphasizes the need for rest, relaxation, and down time. So while we all work very hard, we also take the time for play. I love spending time with my family and traveling. I’ve also been fortunate to have been able to travel to many countries and most continents. The explorer in me keeps me wanting to experience new cultures and countries as it gives me perspective, grounds me, and is extremely invigorating.

Any parting advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?

Brace yourself for some hard work and be ready to dedicate the time and energy to your career. You really have to be able to take a task and run with it while maintaining a lighthearted spirit about yourself and with your team. This last point is critical because you can’t just be out for yourself. Think about the bigger group; the entire company will rise together towards the greater good.

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Visit her website here: www.hawthornedirect.com