Alum feature: Meet Jessica Ferrell

Jessica Ferrell Professional Headshot

Embracing a Passion for Customer Experience

Growing up as part of a restaurant family in a mountain town in New Mexico, Jessica Ferrell started working in the industry at a very young age. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she took on a role as a restaurant manager. Over the next few years, she opened two restaurants, two hotels and managed the beverage program for cooking school and farm to table restaurant, Salt Water Farm. It was there that Jessica realized that what had kept her in the hospitality world for close to 10 years wasn’t a love of food and beverage; instead, it was a passion for customer experience.

With this new perspective, Jessica began her search for a ground-breaking MBA program that would allow her to expand her business knowledge and gain insight into customer experience in other industries. She found her fit in The Portland MBA at Portland State University, which combines experiential learning and deep connections with regional industry partners to fuel innovation

“Portland State really hit the center of the bullseye for me,” Jessica says. “The university is centrally located in a progressive city full of companies manufacturing cool products. The city feels like a playground for customers. The Portland MBA curriculum incorporates sustainability, the classes are small and the professors are attentive.” 

Creating endless possibilities 

Jessica’s career has been defined by her ability to understand the customer perspective as she solves business challenges. Her experience and coursework during The Portland MBA enabled her to widen her perspective and consider what is best not only for the customer but also for the business and the community. 

“Business allows you to source talent, resources, and capital that can change people’s lives,” Jessica says. “The empowerment that comes with endless possibility like that is super rad.”

Jessica’s role as the brand marketing manager for Bolt Threads, a materials innovation company, has allowed her to continue her passion for customer experience and apply what she learned in The Portland MBA in new ways. She has worked on projects involving market research and brand development. She develops social media, influencer and brand partnership strategies for new business developments. 

Getting inspiration from others

At Bolt Threads, Jessica has found a collaborative, supportive community committed to helping her take risks and grow — an experience similar to the community in The Portland MBA program, she says. 

“At PSU, I was busy all the time, which allowed me to stretch my bandwidth,” Jessica says. “I gained an understanding of what I’m capable of, and where my limits are. I always consider what my time is worth, and what the perceived or actual value of the options before me are.”

Jessica continues to push those limits personally and professionally. In addition to her work at Bolt Threads, she serves an instructor at PSU’s Center for Executive and Professional Education (CEPE). 

“I’m inspired by the power of business,” she says. “Utilizing my passion for customer experience to help others build their dream business lets me feel like I am in the trenches with them. Teaching allows me to feel the excitement and pride of starting a business while supporting the students who make it happen.”

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