Alumni Profile: Jessie Scheepers
I basically studied a double major at UCT. I did law and then I doubled with Media Studies. I was 18/19 and I really didn’t know what I was going to do and I was just focused on being able to work on my creative side for the media studies and then have more of an academic theoretical background with law.
After graduating, I was at a point where I didn’t want to practice law and also wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a journalist or if I wanted to work in media. So what I did is I actually started working at a digital agency literally a day after my final exams, yeah stupid. And then I found that it wasn’t stimulating. It wasn’t what I wanted to do so then I moved on to a television production company called Cutover. They are the company that does the Expresso show and also Top Billing.
I found that the leadership there wasn’t inspiring and I am quite an ambitious person so I moved on to Melted Water, which was an amazing place to work. It’s basically a tech company that does media intelligence software. They provide you with tools to help analyse social media. What I did there was I moved into a management role after 8 months, so quite quickly I began to run a sales team and personally develop my team members to be promoted in sales. Part of that experience took me to San Francisco for a conference, I went to Dubai and I had a lot of international colleagues coming down from the 60 offices around the world and I was really lucky because I also got a chance to be part of the international management team of India, Middle East and Africa. We looked a lot at expansion plans and how to grow and which hot markets there were for Melted Water.
I then decided I wanted to move to Europe for a bit and travel a lot here. So what I did was I moved over, without a job or anything, I just knew what I wanted to do and I started working at the company where I work now, called Waltz and Waltz is a tech company. I am passionate about women in the tech space and Waltz is a tech company that has a food experience app. The app is basically like the Spotify for food; how to discover the hottest meals in the city and how to get them delivered to you or pick them up or eat them in the restaurant. My role here is the International Launcher. I have the best job in the world. I am paid to basically go and set up new markets for Waltz. I started with Sweden last year, so I entered Stockholm, I did a lot of market research, understood how the market worked, put forward a business case, hired and managed a team and basically launched the product locally. I then moved on to Talon, and did the same also in Estonia, and now I am sitting in Copenhagen with my third market, running the Danish team.
I suppose the only way it ties back to media studies is that I am doing a lot of press releases and press interviews, but aside to that, being able to write a good email or look at branding and marketing for a product, because I’m running a market. I decided I’d rather do an MBA in a couple of years as a post-grad degree than just getting an Honours.
The coolest part about my job? Well I am 25 and running Denmark. I am in charge of the profit and loss and hiring, deciding how this product runs and looks. It’s my job to make sure that this is the coolest app that everybody has in Denmark so I think that’s pretty cool in itself. I’m very lucky. To have that type of responsibility when you’re still young, female and South African is really interesting. People here don’t even know where that is, they think I’m American.
I think at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’ve studied or what you haven’t studied. It’s really all about your potential and ambitions. Use the skills you learn. What studying media was helpful for is that I now have excellent communication skills which means I can talk to press quite comfortably, I can stand up on the stage which I do quite often and as a speaker at different events, it means I can speak to people who are more experienced than I am because I can conduct myself in a very professional way.
It’s very hard to be successful if for instance you don’t have excellent writing skills or don’t sound super professional in your emails, your branding is messy and your Gmail is like sexylady12345 so I think those are the kind of things that actually end up counting.