Happy International Women’s Day from our JSA family! When our team was brainstorming on who would be the best JSAer to feature on this month’s “Get to Know” series, the answer became quite clear, quite fast.
Jaymie Scotto Cutaia founded this company 14 years ago, and has built it from the ground-up. As anyone can imagine, establishing your brand as the very first PR agency dedicated to the tech and telecom industries is no easy feat, particularly in a typically male-dominated field. The ride has not always been easy, but Jaymie always leads her team with confidence, positivity, intelligence, and love. She calls us a family for a reason, because in many ways we truly are. And how amazing is it that Jaymie is able to cultivate that kind of trust and bond with her employees and clients all from a virtual environment?! Again, no easy feat.
I speak on behalf of my colleagues when I say Jaymie is truly an inspiration, and we call her our Fearless Leader (just a little internal nickname) for many, many reasons. But now, I’ll let her do the talking. In celebration of this very special and inspiring day, here is your latest “Get to Know Your JSAer”, featuring our very own Jaymie Scotto Cutaia:
Jackie Levy: Can you tell readers a bit about your background? Who was Jaymie before she founded JSA?
Jaymie Scotto Cutaia: As long as I can remember, I had a pencil in my hand. Raised in a very loud Italian American house, writing was always a way to form my voice, even when I wasn’t able to get a word in. I focused on my writing in college, earning my BA from Tufts and an MFA from NYU. In 2000, I stayed in the NY area and worked as a journalist at MSNBC, covering 9/11, War in Afghanistan, presidential elections etc., and in 2003, I was hired by Telx to run its Marketing and PR initiatives. I’m proud to say I was part of the original entrepreneurial management team, and watched the company grow from 100+ clients at 60 Hudson to thousands across several locations. When Telx was in the midst of its first purchase, I created JSA, the first telecom-focused PR firm, so we could help other telecom network operators and data center owners/managers with their marketing and PR campaigns. Hibernia was our first client, and I’m proud to say, we have grown organically, year after year, since then.
JL: As the CEO of a company, what are some of the greatest challenges you face?
JSC: I learned quickly what I was passionate about and loved doing (like talking to clients and prospects and writing), and what I was really NOT talented or interested in and therefore what I needed to hire for (such as finance!). So my first major lesson as a CEO was to know when to hire, who to hire, and how to hire.
JL: What is your advice for women looking to venture into a male-dominated field, or someone who wants to start her own business?
JSC: Surround yourself by amazing support. Don’t settle for anything. Keep planning forward. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
JL: What attracted you to the telecom industry?
JSC: It’s an industry that is just understanding the power of strong marketing and PR– so there’s a lot of opportunity and potential. I also love that our clients are really driving the communications infrastructure for our global and local economies– and are doing innovative deployments and partnerships to get it done.
JL: Who are some of your role models? Why?
JSC: Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman, my mother– just to name a few. Women who fight for what they believe in.
JL: What are you most proud of at this moment in your career and life?
JSC: Professionally, I am proud of my JSA family. Each day I learn from them, grow with them, and am inspired by them as we work together to drive our clients forward. Personally, I am proud of my husband. He teaches me that when you never give up, and you keep pushing forward with strategy and determination, success is always the outcome. One of his favorite expressions is “Think Forward”.
JL: What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
JSC: JSA is in its 14th year– and we have set some wonderful financial goals for 2019 that we are already on track for achieving. We will also grow our Telecom Exchange brand this year so our executive networking events are quarterly and throughout North America.
JL: Many women today feel like a work-life balance is unattainable, but you set a different precedent at JSA. Can you speak to that?
JSC: I believe that if you have the right support system, you can accomplish anything. So I challenge women and men to consider how they may define success, and then who and what they need to then be successful. You can’t go it alone.
Here at JSA, we ‘divide and conquer’, dedicating a 3-4 person team to each client. This allows us to keep performing and responding to our clients’ tight timelines with our JSA commitment to quality work while also taking time for life, such as vet visits, baby photos, in-law visits and dinner plans. By working together as a JSA family, we can take the necessary time for both our clients and for ourselves.
JL: What are some ways JSA promotes women in the industry?
JSC: We created the “Women Speaking Initiative” or WSI (jsa.net/wsi) which allows women in our industry to register their speaking profiles which we then distribute to our industry’s event producers quarterly. We do this to encourage more women on our podiums, and to link great female speakers with telecom and tech’s top event producers.
We are also a proud woman-owned business, employ over 80% of women (not necessarily intentional, just years of hiring the best folks for the job) and we also represent women-owned businesses as well.
JL: What does success mean to you?
JSC: Anytime a goal is set, a plan created, actions measured and an outcome either meets or succeeds the initial goal, that’s success. But it’s beyond this, it’s the way you rise after you stumble. It’s having persistence and fortitude. It’s having courage.
JL: Ok, now some fun questions. Outside of JSA, how do you love to spend your time?
JSC: Yoga. Poetry. Spending time with my family, friends and pup.
JL: You and your husband have worked together before and you continue to collaborate on projects today. When you are not talking about work, what is it you enjoy doing together?
JSC: We are both news junkies so we chat politics a lot. We also love movies and music – and we hope to travel again sometime soon– ideally together and not just for work! :) Obviously we are both focused right now on growing our respective companies- so that takes precedence.
JL: Are there any shows you’re binge-watching now?
JSC: It’s hard to find time to truly ‘binge watch’– I usually try to limit myself to one show a week, which means it takes me forever to get through a series, but my recent favorites were Billions and Ozark.
JL: What is one movie you can watch over and over again?
JSC: I don’t usually love to watch a movie more than once– so tough question. But I did love this year’s “A Star is Born” — that’s one movie that I am glad Hollywood keeps recreating.
JL: What is one book you can read over and over again?
JSC: That’s tough. I reread poetry but not novels. Some of my favorite poets are DH Lawrence, Galway Kinnell, Emily Dickinson and Sharon Olds. I had the pleasure of learning under Galway and Sharon at NYU.
JL: I know you received your Masters in creative writing. What was the best writing prompt you’ve ever received?
JSC: Know your audience.
JL: What’s the best cure for writer’s block?
JSC: Sleeping with a journal by your bedside and then let yourself dream without limits.
JL: Speaking of cures, give me your one sentence pitch for why you should immerse yourself in yoga.
JSC: Yoga can calm and challenge me simultaneously- and not only can I continue to learn and practice as I age, I feel like it helps me grow young.
JL: If you could transport your home office to anywhere in the world for a month, where would you go?
JSC: Capri off the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
JL: Finally, if there is one thing you want women reading this to know, what would it be?
JSC: Believe in yourself. Forgive yourself. Get uncomfortable. Leap. Love. Be thankful. Cherish the moments.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!