Jessica VanderVeen, Head of Marketing & Communications

Where are you from and how did you end up at Tempo?

I’m from the Philadelphia area and upstate New York. I lived in New York City for around ten years before moving to Iceland 5 years ago with my husband. When I moved here, I wanted to work for a tech team doing interesting things on the international level, so was fortunate to have joined Tempo when it was in its infancy.

What do you like best about working at Tempo?

The Tempo team is pretty amazing; there are a lot of talented people here who are passionate about what they do. I like the growth opportunities and working in a dynamic environment. Tech requires the ability to be flexible, adapt, and evolve, as it’s quickly changing, so there’s always a new aspect to it and new things to learn and be passionate about. Every day poses something new — no two days are alike — so it’s never boring. I also like the creative aspects of my job — of being able to come up with a vision and strategy, and to work with our team to realize that vision in the most effective and efficient way.

What’s a typical day for you at Tempo like?

I don’t have a typical day anymore, but there are certain consistencies: standups, meetings with our marketing, product, and management teams, planning and overseeing our team efforts (digital product design and development, content strategy, branding and design efforts, PR and events, ads, social media, and email marketing). I also oversee legal initiatives like contracts, licensing, and IP matters. I am a member of the management team, so I work with others to plan and strategize on the business level.

Being from the United States and therefore a non-Icelander, what is it like working in kind of an international environment, but in Iceland?

I was the first full-time non-Icelander on the Tempo team. When I started at the company, almost all internal information was in Icelandic. Now, approximately 20% of us originate from countries outside of Iceland, and we have an office in Montreal. Information is now in English, and the team has more of an international vibe to it. There are more diverse backgrounds, which I think is a good thing, since it helps us to think outside of the box and challenges our assumptions and modes of thinking, and to think about how we work as a team, communicate, solve problems, and create great products.

I come from a background in engineering, project management, law, leadership, and business, and have been trained in logic, analysis, communication, writing, storytelling, and problem solving. I’ve worked in a number of fast-paced, demanding work environments. Working in tech and in marketing has felt like a natural progression, also coming from an engineering family.

Developing Tempo’s solutions has been a big and multi-faceted undertaking. Could you tell me about your part there and the role of the Marketing team?

I was the first full-time hire at Tempo outside of the development team. Even with one product, there were a lot of things going on when I arrived and a lot of hats to be worn — among other things, product marketing, digital strategy, branding, email marketing, social media, PR, conferences and events, legal, working with partners, and support. The company itself has grown from 9 to 78 over the last 5 years, from one product to four (as well as two cloud solutions and one mobile app). Our marketing team has grown from one to nine full-time people, and we work with a number of part-time contractors. Most of these roles are centralized these days.

Our marketing team has accomplished a lot over the years. For instance, we rebranded, launched a new website, attended several high-profile conferences, and even won an award last year from Atlassian for the most creative marketing campaign.

On the day-to-day, we primarily support the product teams to develop and implement go-to-market strategy, so we have a product marketing team that works closely with the product managers and other teams. As we sell products online, every touchpoint with customers affects our brand, so we want to make these interactions as positive as possible. That means we need to keep content fresh, crisp, clear, and compelling, and we need to test and optimize our website. Our team also spans email marketing and lead nurturing, social media, branding and graphics, PR (internal, local, international), and research & analysis.

Has your career grown in any unexpected ways at Tempo?

I wouldn’t say so. Tempo has grown a lot, and with that, there have been a lot of growth opportunities.

What advice would you give others seeking to work in the ever-growing field of tech?

Be curious and always be learning. Tech will teach you resilience and humility, so be open to that. Never assume that you can directly apply your previous background to the next one. There’s always room to learn and grow.

What song do you listen to when you need to go into “work mode”?

Herbie Hancock and Jawbreaker, all the way.