Attica Alexis Jaques: Integrated Marketing at Gap

Attica Alexis Jaques, 2013 graduate of the M.S. in Strategic Communications program (now known as the Executive M.S. in Strategic Communication), works as the VP of Global Marketing for Gap. Recently, Advertising Age named her among its “Women to Watch” in 2015 for breaking new ground in advertising and media.

Attica has held various marketing positions over the last 15 years, in San Francisco, Tokyo, and, currently, New York. She has led and developed Gap’s first international award-winning campaigns such as Left Weave Denim, Hello, (RED) in Japan, Be Bright and numerous GapKids/BabyGap campaigns. Prior to Gap, Attica worked in Marketing at Barney's New York and Prada.

We spoke with Attica by phone shortly after she was honored by Advertising Age. She revealed her favorite elements of the program, spoke about her trajectory in marketing and strategy, and noted the pleasures of bringing one’s talents to worthy causes.

Can you tell me about your experience in the program? What elements of it were the most valuable to you?

We learned how to improve our public speaking skills. I recently had to do a leadership conference and give a speech to 1,500 people. It was like a TED Talk. I was very passionate about the subject matter – girls' empowerment. I often think back to our presentation courses, which were quite intense; they really prepared me for those kinds of situations where you have to ascend to a bigger stage. Those events are hard to prep for, but my courses helped me gain not just a lot of confidence but also reminded me of the importance of preparation.

Another important element of the program is the value of your cohort. Communications is such a broad subject that [the admissions staff] tend to select people who have different perspectives – whether it’s communications from human resources, or marketing and advertising, or public relations, or something more integrated. Everyone brings such a unique set of skills and perspectives and stories. You learn from each other. You develop friendships, you develop business relationships, you develop thought partners. Outside of the curriculum, that probably has had the most impact on me.

How did the program help boost your career?

I've been at Gap for 15 years. I was at a senior director level when I started at Columbia. I definitely think the degree helped me get promoted. My organization saw that I had a passion for the work and a broader skill set.

What do you do as the VP of Global Marketing for Gap?

I oversee integrated marketing, which is every touchpoint: new as well as traditional media, and our retail stores. I'm starting to take on some of the e-commerce work as well, as it pertains to marketing.

In my previous roles, I used to do a lot of the actual production. I’ve since moved on to developing campaigns, but mainly I do the strategic planning, discover the insights, work on trend reporting, all of the things that go into our campaign brief. And then I oversee the execution of our campaigns. The biggest campaign that we're working on is our partnership with Ellen Degeneres around girls empowerment.

Can you tell me about your philanthropic work?

I sat on the board for RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which is a foundation that supports art in New York City public schools: when public schools’ funding gets cut, the first thing to go is the arts program. Statistics show that art in the curriculum actually helps kids stay in school, helps them focus, and helps them get better grades in their core curriculum. I worked with them for several years. Now I'm a friend of the board and participate in some of their activities and programs.

[I’m a founding board member for] Project Inkblot, a for-profit startup that is focused on advancing women and people of color in media. More than anything, our aim is to insure that they have positive reflections [in the media]. Historically, it's been pretty sad, the way that women and people of color have been portrayed, particularly in advertising and communications and media. A lot of what Project Inkblot does is create more positive images.

You can bring a lot of skills-based insight into some of these smaller companies. I think volunteer work is another way of fulfilling your passion that's outside of your actual job.

Learn more about the Executive Master of Science in Strategic Communication.