Jess McMahon wears many hats in both her work and personal life, and even though it’s not always easy, she certainly makes it look effortless. Jess is the Event Marketing Manager at Avvo, producing Avvo’s annual Lawyernomics event that is hosted in Las Vegas; manages our sponsorship and on-site presence at other legal conferences; oversees the creative design team; manages a Seattle band called Duke Evers; and is Mom to her son, Ryder.
Prior to working at Avvo, Jess was a Marketing Manager at Rhapsody, where she managed the event strategy, including festivals and sponsorships such as SXSW, Capitol Hill Block Party, and Sasquatch.
Why did you decide to come to work at Avvo?
Initially the appeal was the opportunity to produce a three day conference (Lawyernomics) and the challenge in doing that. But after meeting our leadership team, seeing the office culture, and talking with friends about the company overall, the decision to make the switch from music tech to legal tech became an easy one.
In addition to being the event manager at Avvo, you also manage a band. How do the two roles complement each other?
Relationship building and networking make both worlds go round. In order to run events you need to love what you do and the people you work with. Managing a band successfully is the same.
What’s the biggest challenge being female in male-dominated industries (both tech and music)?
The biggest struggle I find is the art of balancing all my responsibilities. I’m a career woman and a mom, all while trying to push myself in the areas that light me on fire.
What was your initial perception of the legal and tech industries, and how has that perception changed since coming to Avvo?
I always viewed legal advice as something that was going to be beyond my bank account and a part of our society I found intimidating. What I learned is lawyers are people too. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but what became clear quickly is they struggle too and often feel overwhelmed by running a business. There was something refreshing about that.
What was the first concert you ever went to, and what was it like?
Metallica and Candlebox. I was 16 and not cool but the impact was made. As much as I loved seeing the show, the people watching was everything.
Do you play an instruments?
Does singing karaoke count?
What conference or event do you wish you could attend, and why?
One of Tony Robbins multi-day events he hosts. I can’t think of a more extreme event to participate in and witness. He speaks for 12 hours a day at these things! That’s insane!
Who inspires you? Why?
Before I state who, let me give a little context. I’ve always been ambitious and independent almost to a fault. What I didn’t expect after having my son Ryder, is the deep desire to live a life with passion and heart that hopefully he’ll apply to his own life. Because of this, he’s my inspiration.
What is your favorite restaurant in Seattle?
Currently I’m obsessed with Fonda La Catrina in Georgetown. And you gotta hit the non-descript café down the street for a slice of pie before heading home. I don’t even know the name of it but it’s fantastic.
How would you describe the culture at Avvo?
Inspired. Everyone who works here understand the impact to bring legal resources to the masses. We’re not attorneys. We’re in many ways like the consumers we’re trying to help. We also have to understand the attorney side and their needs in running their business and identifying the right clients. In our current political landscape it’s a very interesting place to work.
In your experience, what makes a good manager?
Authenticity and communication. It’s my role as a manager to connect with my team, to help them in their careers and sometimes in life. I take time to get to know them. And not just in their job, but who they are. If people feel heard and cared for, motivation and desire follows. I ask a lot of my team, but they know I don’t ask more than I know they’re capable of and I’ll be there to back them up the entire way.
To someone visiting Seattle for the first time, what is the top attraction they should see and why?
That’s a hard one. Seattle has a lot of awesome things to see with a variety of options depending on your likes. I’m going with Pike Place for the view, the food and walkability.
What is it like working for a tech company in one of the top tech cities in the nation?
There are a lot of perks as it can provide a great life. The one drawback is tech is overrunning our arts community and pushing out many of the creatives that helped build this city to what it is today. I have hope that we’ll be able to do a better job of blending these worlds in the future.
What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to TV?
People’s Court is my fave!
What advice would you give to someone just starting their career?
Say yes and don’t be scared to make mistakes. Many of the opportunities I’ve had were because I put my hand up and said I’d give it a shot.
To learn more about careers at Avvo, visit www.avvo.com/careers.