Interviewee Name: Jennifer Graham
Company Name: M. Moser Associates Ltd
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Jennifer Graham: I work as a project director for M. Moser Associates, a global firm with 650 employees worldwide, and I am one of 46 directors in the firm. Our work is primarily focused on corporate interiors. My role as project director is a combination of two roles – one is for projects and the other is having oversight for project staffing for the office. From a directorial standpoint I interface with the global directors for strategic process implementation and improvement across the firm.
I came to the USA specifically to study design, and I have a degree in interior design as well as an MBA. I was born in Barbados and lived there for 18 years. I came to the US 30 years ago – I am a single mom with twin girls.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Jennifer Graham: I do not separate the two. I find positions that have supported me where I am in life.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Jennifer Graham: With my girls – most likely reading together. It is my ‘daily down time’ even if it is only 10 minutes.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Accept others for who they are – if I don’t get on with them – move on.
- I am not always right
- The more I know the more I have to learn.
- If I don’t like what someone has to say to me, first evaluate if it is a good critical remark, if it’s not, I ignore it and move on.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Jennifer Graham: Get away from my daily routine and then get enough sleep!
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Jennifer Graham: “Low aim, not failure is the crime.” It speaks for itself.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Jennifer Graham: Accomplishing attainable dreams early enough in life so that every day is a blessing and new experiences are pure icing on the cake. And the formula for success is:
- Do what you enjoy
- Gain respect
- Have the experience of loving unconditionally and receive love unconditionally
- Be recognized by your peers for contributions to one’s profession
- Be able to pay your bills!
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
- Study, BFA.
- Good positions and experience.
- Very hard work.
- MBA and other professional accreditations.
- Being good at budgets, problem solving and a good leader.
- Having my own high standards.
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Jennifer Graham: Love what you do.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
- Elton John – thank you for the music
- Michelle Obama – I am curious
- Stephen Hawkins – I am awed
- My future love – where have you been?
- The fifth person would be someone who had influenced others without having known that what they did would have such a broad impact. And people who fall into that category could be Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Teresa. They might not have expected that their lives would have had such an impact. There are also everyday people who have that kind of impact who may not go down in history but actually end up changing the path of others. I would want to pick someone I don’t know.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Jennifer Graham: The Encyclopedia Britannica. I could visit anywhere I wanted as a child (in my imagination) and it prepared me for my move to NY by taking the mystery out of foreign places but showing that everything is mysterious in a foreign place and I would never be at a loss to learn if I left Barbados.
Avil Beckford: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are five books that you would like to have with you and why? Summarize the book in two sentences.
- The Bible. Each time you read it you see something you have never seen before and I am not well read or well versed of the Bible.
- Paradise Lost - the eternal story about the fall of man
- A book of poems through the ages. For memory, rhythm, romanticism
- Webster’s Dictionary
- Ulysses (I have never read it!)
Avil Beckford: What one music CD and movie would you like to have with you (on the deserted island) and why?
Jennifer Graham: I would have to choose Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. The movie is a hard choice. Maybe the Sound of Music because of the scenery, humour, romance, love, the perseverance of the human spirit and music and dance.
Bach – Brandenburg Concertos No.5 – i: Allegro
If you cannot view the YouTube video, please click here.
The Sound of Music – Trailer, Please click here to view the YouTube video.
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Jennifer Graham: Everything.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Jennifer Graham: Hug my children and be thankful everyday for all I have.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
Jennifer Graham: To give myself enough time and resources to have time to focus on health each day of each week. I would manifest a personal trainer/chef.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Jennifer Graham: I am with my children and family.
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