Jess Greenwood Named to Ad Age Women to Watch U.S. Class of 2019

  • Ad Age
  • By Lindsay Rittenhouse
  • May 28, 2019

Jessica Greenwood spent a good chunk of her career in journalism, working at Contagious Magazine for seven years, where she interviewed bigwigs in various industries. One of them was R/GA Founder and Executive Chairman Bob Greenberg.

“He told me about R/GA and I was like ‘This company is fascinating,’” says Greenwood, bringing her to the realization that she was sick of “writing about all the creative things that other people were doing” instead of doing them herself. “I came to R/GA immediately. They saw that I had potential and brought me in and it was wonderful.” Potential, it turns out, was an understatement.

Greenwood joined the agency in 2012 in business strategy, realizing that “journalism and strategy are basically the same thing in that you have to do a ton of research and then find the most interesting things about that research.”

She spent two years at R/GA before leaving to work in strategy at Google Creative Partnership. She was there nine months before returning to R/GA in 2014.

“R/GA is my love,” says Greenwood. “We get to decide here what we want to do, how to optimize the company for the future, where we should and shouldn’t invest. I get to come in every day and be with people who are smarter than me or know how to do things that I don’t know how to do. That keeps me hungry, on my toes and curious.”

In the last year, Greenwood was promoted twice: to senior VP of strategy and to U.S. co-chief of strategy alongside Tom Morton. The latter promotion came while out on maternity leave.

In the last year, she and her team launched /Make, Samsung’s editorial platform for next-generation creators. She also oversaw the transformation of the Galaxy Note to a “gaming” phone through the launch of an exclusive Galaxy skin in Epic Games’ Fortnite. In addition to helping R/GA win new business last year from clients such as Ally, she leads WomanUp, R/GA’s network that helps female talent succeed.

“Define success on your own terms,” Greenwood advises rising leaders. Also, if you’re “ever the smartest person in the room, leave that room.”

What advice would you give your younger self?

Define success on your own terms. It takes a long time to figure out the difference between what you want and what you think you’re supposed to want. The things that make me happy—being on lots of problems at once, being surrounded by lots of different types of brains—are other people’s definition of hell, and vice versa. Figure out what makes work fun for you and chase that.

My worst career mistake:

Chasing a love of music into a music industry job and immediately realizing that sometimes it’s better not to know how the sausage gets made. Not all passions deserve to be careers.

If I wasn’t doing this job, I would be:

Either happily sketching a capsule collection in a French atelier or working as a color consultant for Pantone. Color theory is fascinating.


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