Lead(H)er Profile - Michelle Wong, VP of Marketing at Jackpocket
Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and even though I’ve lived in NYC for over a decade, I still consider myself a Californian. For those who know me now, they’d be surprised to learn that I was a shy kid.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I studied Economics and Business at UC Berkeley, and my first job was in management consulting at Accenture right out of school. Consulting provided a fantastic foundation and exposure to different industries and companies.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I had always wanted to live in NYC, so I decided to pursue my MBA at NYU Stern to broaden my skill set and focus more on marketing. After graduating, I worked in brand management, until I had the opportunity to join American Express’s start-up arm. That was another critical point in my career when I realized I enjoyed working in smaller organizations. I took the plunge to startups and haven’t looked back!
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m currently the VP of Marketing at Jackpocket, a mobile app startup that’s revolutionizing the $300 billion lottery industry. In this role, I’m responsible for initiating and driving an integrated marketing strategy. As we prepare to expand into many new states and markets, I work closely with my team to develop new acquisition channels, refine current channels, and ensure strong customer retention.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
My career has not been linear, but I’m exactly where I want to be at this moment. My priorities have been to join a growing company with solid team culture over a specific role or vertical.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
Keep up-to-date on new marketing trends (ex. mobile) and what's going on in the industries you're interested in. Earlier on in your career, try to determine how you will differentiate yourself from the pack and be open to learning new skills. Reach out and set up informational / coffee chats with folks working at companies or roles you're interested in. You may be surprised to see how open people are to chatting!
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
Empathy. At the end of the day, we’re all humans who are navigating a challenging time.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s most challenging?
I’ve worked across many different industries and company stages, but this is my first foray into the real-money gaming space, so I’m learning something new every day. Additionally, adapting to the ever-changing mobile advertising environment has been both interesting and challenging.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
I’m passionate about women’s health and serve as a marketing advisor to Natalist, a venture-backed startup dedicated to improving the path to parenthood.
I’m also a volunteer and foster with Muddy Paws Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to partnering with animal shelters to pull and place dogs into loving forever homes.
What’s next for you and your career?
I’m still relatively new at Jackpocket, and really enjoy it so far—plus there’s so much growth ahead—so I’m excited to make Jackpocket nothing short of a household name! Someday, I’d love the opportunity to serve on the board for an organization that aligns with my interests and values.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love traveling and exploring the outdoors. One of my favorite trips was hiking the W trek in Patagonia: 100+ km in 5 days, trekked on a glacier, experienced all 4 seasons in a single day, rediscovered camping, and cold/no showers.
How do you manage stress?
A mix of running, yoga (I miss going to my local studio IRL!), and meditation.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
At least 1 cup of cold brew in the morning.
What's one of your favorite places in the New York area?
While I love living and working in the city, I enjoy escaping to the Catskills.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
For fans of The Wire, and those of you who are rewatching the show during quarantine, I recommend listening to The Wire: Way Down in the Hole. I also enjoy listening to Pivot, hosted by Recode’s Kara Swisher and NYU Stern Professor Scott Galloway, to keep up with all things tech and current events.
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
These are unprecedented times, and there’s no guidebook. What I've learned over the years is to keep things in perspective. Your career isn't going to be built after landing one 'perfect' job, or conversely, ruined from one misstep. There's so much to learn from each and every opportunity you get, and you’ll come out of this challenging period even stronger and more resilient.