Alums Share Career Journeys – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Alums Share Career Journeys

Married alums Jackie Johnson Cox ’05 and Kevin Cox ’05 recently returned to the Colleges to visit with students and talk about where they are now, and the journey they took to get there.

Jackie Cox is a vice president at Zeno Group, a privately held global PR agency in New York City that is part of the Edelman Company. Cox works in consumer marketing and works closely with clients to develop holistic communications campaigns to launch products, establish reputation and drive consumer conversations across a diverse range of industries including consumer packaged goods, juvenile products, food and beverage, technology, and lifestyle. Her clients have included BACARDI rum, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Samsung, LG Electronics, and several others.

Kevin Cox is an entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of FastForno, a QSR Neapolitan pizza restaurant in New York City. There he is responsible for everything from concept launch to operations and beyond. He is also co-founder of Brottle, where he makes and publishes a new bottled cocktail recipe and video every day. In this role, he oversees all content creation, business development and marketing communications. Previously, he served as the chief operations officer for Clarke’s Standard and was part of the opening team for the Umami Burger Restaurant Groups in Los Angeles, Calif.

When speaking with students, Jackie said her “go-to” inspiration is a book, “The Defining Decade” by Dr. Meg Jay. The book focuses on what she says is one of the most important decades of one’s life: their 20s. It delves into how graduating, careers, love, personality, identity and even the brain can change during this decade more than any other time in adulthood, and provides how to make the most of it.

Cox echoed several of the fears relevant to those preparing to leave their teenage years behind (begrudgingly) for “The Real World,” and gave some advice. “Contacts are key. Get out there and meet people, and start a contact list here at HWS and throughout your career,” she urged.

She also told students about her first job, moving to Los Angeles and then to New York City, and gave tips on how to get internships and make impressions. She also encouraged students to “break the stereotypes,” referring to the perception of the “millennial,” generation as lazy, spoiled and unwilling to be innovative.

“Be open minded and stay hungry,” she told students, also advising them to be “realistic and patient,” and to “take risks and try something new.”

In his address to students, Kevin Cox began, “What I want to impress upon you guys tonight is trying to find your passions and making those passions become your job.”

After Cox graduated, he started out with commercial real estate, simply because it seemed financially stable and a fitting job. Eventually, he found himself waking up every day with a pit in his stomach and he just wasn’t happy with his job. He then got into the restaurant business in Los Angeles, where he started moving restaurants from there to New York. He loved what he did and turned his passion for food into a career.

“Take out the good things and learn from the bad things,” Cox said.

“It’s all about doing something; just do it,” he said. “All of the failures in my life have led to better things.”

Jacqueline earned her B.A. in media and society with honors from William Smith and minored in art history. Kevin graduated from Hobart with a B.A. in economics and minored in public policy studies. As a student, he was a member of the lacrosse team.