SWE Staff Spotlight: Vanessa Velasco

Each month, the Society of Women Engineers puts the spotlight on one of our valued staff members. For September, we feature Vanessa Velasco.
SWE Staff Spotlight: Vanessa Velasco
SWE Staff Spotlight: Vanessa Velasco
Vanessa Velasco

Vanessa Velasco is the Senior Manager of WE Local Events & Marketing at the Society of Women Engineers. One part analytical and one part creative, she summarizes her leadership style with one phrase paired with a hashtag, “Every problem has a solution. #LeadOn.” This has proven to be the root of her contributions and success as the WE Local Senior Manager.

Previously, Vanessa coordinated marketing communications and event production for organizations such as the United Way, World’s Largest Brat Fest, Danaher Corporation, and the American Health Information Management Association. Vanessa received a dual bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Film and Television from Chapman University.

Fun Facts about Vanessa

Where do you live?
Streeterville, which is a neighborhood in Chicago, IL located blocks from Navy Pier.

Did you grow up in the Chicagoland area?
I am a California girl. I moved to the midwest almost ten years ago. Luckily, I have family and friends in California to visit during winter — no one was crazy enough to follow me.

What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
To always be yourself. Hold to your values and never waver. I watched a recent TedTalk that summarizes it wonderfully. “If you represent any sort of difference, you will be tempted to not be you. So, say more of what you want to say (respectfully). As a leader, make it safe for team members to be authentic and be the greatest (authentic) excellence an employee ever knew possible.”  And to be my authentic self, I leave you with two of my professional hashtags: #LeadOn and #DoItForThem

What is your favorite hobby/hobbies?
I absolutely love reading, being active, and eating. I have a spreadsheet (thanks to a dear friend who gave me this idea) where I track the number of books I read in a year. It includes a rating for if I would recommend it to someone else. I  escape reality not only through books but also by working out — no week is every the same schedule, so you may find me twirling and leaping in a dance class, running along the lake, or sweating it out in a yoga class. And last but not least, I workout so I can eat…a lot. 90% of the time I cook all my meals, but when I dine, I am going to enjoy.

What is your favorite place in the world?
One place? Can I just say the world? I love seeing the world from the different point of views. My favorite quote is: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Do you have any interesting or little-known facts about yourself?
Well, if I tell you then it’s no longer interesting or a little-known facts, but yes! If you want to learn what those facts are, let’s set time to chat. A digital coffee/tea introduction is always welcome! Contact me at vanessa.velasco@swe.org. Fair warning, I may talk to you about WE Local. I can’t help it — I love what I do.

Favorite band or type of music?
If you listened to my Pandora or Spotify, you would think, “This can’t be the same person” but I promise you, it is. On any given week, I can listen to classical, blues, alternative rock, R&B, EDM, techno, pop, country, or Christian rock. But if I am in California, hands down, Indie Rock and Punk. See, I told you.

Favorite TV show?
Doh. I am a sucker for ABC’s Thursday night lineup or any war/crime show on the History Channel. However, I am always up to watch a classic I Love Lucy episode.

Favorite movie?
Top Five: The Godfather, Saving Private Ryan, A League of Their Own, Unusual Suspects, and of course, Gladiator.

Cubs or Sox?
Sox.

Favorite sports team?
Chicago Blackhawks, Green Bay Packers and USC Trojans (football only)

If you could eat one thing the rest of your life what would it be?
First thought: Pasta. However, I probably wouldn’t have a long life. So I would say, Tavern at the Park’s goat cheese salad with salmon.

What is your opinion on how marketing is evolving to be more digital?
More digital? Ooofa. I don’t know if I can keep up but I will do my best. However, I do love seeing digital assets that take traditional marketing tactics and blend them together.

What is your opinion on how social media is taking over the world?
I don’t believe it’s taking over the world, however I do see how it’s impacting the way we portray ourselves every day, and it’s unfortunate. We are really missing out on the moment of “now.” The “perfect candid” picture is rarely captured and I love living in the moment, so pausing to capture that “perfect” moment negates the actual emotion that could have been captured…All for a perfect picture to impress others.

If you could sum up SWE in one word, what would it be?
Determined.

What was the inspiration that made you get into your field?
A high school friend was recruiting people to assist with the promotion/coordination of the Junior/Senior prom. They asked me. Still to this day, I am not quite sure why. I was never very outgoing. Yet, they asked. In the planning process, I volunteered to create a flyer and post them around school. One morning I arrived at about 6:30 a.m. and I started plastering our school. Flyer, tape, tape, next flyer. Tape, flyer, tape, next flyer. And so on. By 7:05 a.m., I finished and was in the middle of the Quad. I remember there was a dampness in the air from the fog as I stood there and saw my masterpiece of colorful promotions. I have been hooked to events ever since. And well, I learned in college that doing events was just a subset of marketing where I could use more creativity. It’s been a match since….

What is your favorite thing about your job?
Creating ideas from scratch and bringing them to life that support our SWE members in their engineering journey

Where can we find you on the weekends?
Who knows! It really varies. I could be on the lake; in a different state; or perfectly content on my couch with the two furballs: Lady the Lab and Stanley, Stanley Cup the Criminal Cat.

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