2023 Women in Print and Promo: Jill Albers, BAMKO
Director of Client Success
BAMKO, Dayton, Ohio
The promo industry is known for creativity that can lead to game-changing programs for clients. But Jill Albers raises an interesting question: What’s the point if these brilliant ideas are poorly executed? The result is lost time and weakened relationships — and she won’t let that happen under her watch.
“Exceptional creativity only matters if you deliver it in a way that creates an extraordinary end-user experience,” Albers says. “A program is only ever as effective as it is well-executed.”
As director of client success, Albers knows what she’s talking about, and, in fact, that’s a major part of what attracted her to BAMKO. She spends many days focusing on building new enterprise relationships, while leveraging the company’s vast suite of services and offerings. Her goal is to deliver “branded solutions that deliver tangible and measurable results for customers.”
Prior to joining BAMKO, Albers worked as a marketing coordinator at Visions Awards. It was her first job out of college, and she was tasked with supporting new product development, shows, website and catalog development, pricing models, and customer proposals. Albers later transitioned to the distributor side of the business in 2008, climbing the ranks to serve in business development, marketing, and sales leadership roles.
Albers brought the skills she learned to BAMKO, applying them in a way that not only met her standards of excellence, but offered the standout operational and technological capabilities associated with the distributor. “Seeing the impact that we are able to have on their business, spending my time doing what I do best, and getting to see our customers’ reactions when we deliver on our promise of operational excellence is the best feeling you can imagine,” she says.
Her nominator recognizes Albers’ accomplishments as a top executive, creative lead, and top sales revenue generator. However, he argues that her leadership style within the company, and the promo industry as a whole, is where she stands out — particularly when it comes to elevating other female sales professionals.
“A consummate big-tent person, Jill consistently brings sales reps under her wings and mentors them, joins them on sales pitches, and helps contribute to their success,” according to her nominator. “She has done this with particular alacrity for other female sales professionals, providing them with a role model, mentor, and template for how to balance it all without compromising the client experience or the drive to succeed.”
Her Proudest Career Achievement
I am proud of how I navigated the pandemic. Many in the distributor space sat on their hands and just waited — BAMKO wasn’t one of those organizations. We planned and executed. We acted and kept evolving as circumstances changed. We helped many hospitals and senior care facilities keep people safe. I had a record year in 2021 in maybe the most stressful year of my career.
How Failure Taught Her Resiliency
I failed recently at trying to grow an indoor herb garden. I got one of those fancy indoor planters and killed everything. I needed to commit more time to following the watering and feeding instructions. The lesson: Don’t add things to your plate unless you are fully committed to the time it’s going to take to be successful.
Her Most Significant Barrier as a Female Leader
Being a mother … while simultaneously ramping up a career can feel like a barrier in any industry. I remember having morning sickness on a plane while traveling to see a client. I had to find a restroom and pull myself together before the meeting feeling like crap. I then got to the meeting and the buyer asked me, “Well, when are we going to get to meet your replacement? You look like you are going to have that baby anytime now.” I was five months pregnant and had to explain I didn’t know who would be replacing me yet. I feel like as a society our understanding and flexibility have come a long way in the last five years in this regard. I am so happy (and slightly jealous) that becoming a parent is so much more flexible for families today. I would suggest making sure any company you are looking to go to work for has flexible and supportive policies associated with this.
How She Thinks Companies Can Attract and Retain Female Talent
They need flexible work environments with defined career paths and advancement opportunities.
Her Job Advice to Women
I would recommend doing a significant amount of research on any organization you might be looking to work for in this space. There is a low barrier to entry in this category. Many organizations have a great pitch deck, but are a mess behind the scenes. Ask to learn about their systems and processes. Ask to talk with employees in different departments than you are getting hired into. Make sure to really kick the tires.
Her Upcoming Goals
Professionally, I am looking to triple the amount of enterprise contracts I close in 2023. I also am going to walk away from business that doesn’t make sense. I want to be laser-focused on what we do well and look at finding more of those types of opportunities. Personally, I am excited about going to Europe with my family for a couple weeks this summer for my 40th birthday celebration.
How She Recharges
I enjoy trying new restaurants, wake surfing, boating, snow skiing, and just spending time with my family and friends. I love watching my kids grow in the sports and activities they love.