BrightWave’s First Quartermaster – Jessica Higgins >

Jessica Higgins Quartermaster

I have wanted to do a BrightWave Employee of the Year award for quite some time. Like a lot of internal projects, client work and other priorities got in the way. We made it a reality this year and didn’t want it to be some lame award without much meaning or anything truly special. We wanted it to be reflective of the culture and company we have built which we think is unique

We happen to have a little nautical theme going at BrightWave. Obviously our name and logo nod to this but our conference room names are nautical and rumor has it our British Friday is inspired by the Royal British Navy.

So we came up with the Quartermaster Award (formally, The Email Marketing Quartermaster Award).

Quartermaster-logo 1

What’s a Quartermaster? – An able-bodied seaman entrusted with the steering of a vessel when entering or leaving a harbor. He is also involved with the use and upkeep of navigational equipment. On a pirate ship, the quartermaster had an almost equal amount of authority as the captain. He was elected and as such was the crew’s voice. If a ship was captured, the quartermaster almost always took over the captured ship. He maintained order, settled arguments, and distributed supplies. The quartermaster was in charge of all booty gained and distributed it among the crew. (Courtesy of Brethren of the Coast)


We told the team prior to voting that The Email Marketing Quartermaster should be awarded to the employee that just had an amazing year and impact on our business. Co-workers, clients and paparazzi all want a piece of him or her and have been uniquely impressed by their dedication, collaboration, passion and success. This person should embody the BrightWave values.  The winner would get a nifty piece of hardware and a trip to a five star beach resort. That seemed to get people’s attention.

So what happened? Over drinks and great Italian food and among our friends and coworkers at our holiday party we presented this to a very deserving person.

Jessica Johnston Higgins had an epic year. She came in and joined the BrightWave team (already established as the leading email marketing focused digital agency in the country) and propelled them up a few notches. When she took over as Creative Director in February 2012, she elevated BrightWave’s client work and made the internal process smoother and team happier. In short, she built out a best of breed team in less than a year while maintaining an exceptionally high level of excellence in the agency’s creative work.

While I can go on and on about how she helped us achieve an Inc. 5000 listing or #70 on the 2012 Tech 200 of fastest growing technology companies but I think it is even better if you heard from her colleagues. Below are some excerpts from the nominations of Jessica from her BrightWave teammates for the first inaugural Email Marketing Quartermaster Award.

“Jessica exudes the characteristics that a Pirate captain would find most beneficial in a quartermaster. Although she does not say “arrgh” often, she does always intervene on projects when needed and truly has the customer in mind when creating the visual experience for an end user.”

Jess-headshot“Jessica has brought a set of soft skills that have helped us build a culture and added a fresh perspective to BrightWave as an organization. I believe her arrival and subsequent work has been one of the true milestones of 2012 as we have a stronger future with her and last time I checked, we’re still sailing.”

“Not only has Jessica been extremely patient, helpful, and encouraging, but her personality and demeanor create a very pleasant working environment, which I enjoy immensely.  Her knowledge, experience, and professionalism coupled with her ability to have fun and foster a laidback office environment set a great example for the type of company culture we should strive to nurture and maintain.”

“Jessica has demonstrated great leadership and positive energy in the office (whether it’s creating awesome comps, or planning a fun happy hour across the street). From a creative standpoint, she has not only built a solid team, but she has also consistently created designs that our clients love.”

“Jessica has demonstrated her leadership abilities in a number of areas from the moment she arrived at BrightWave. As our Creative Director she has a role that takes on many responsibilities, almost as if she is doing 3 (or more) jobs in one. She is the chief designer / art director who has to safeguard the quality of our creative product, and she is the head of production which requires her to be both technical and methodical in her attention to detail.”

“Jessica has also stepped up in the areas of strategy and coaching.“

“On top of all of this, Jessica is also the social committee (chair) who organizes most of BrightWave’s after hours events. This role is almost equally important to her day to day job in effecting the culture and Esprit de corps of the company.”

Quartermaster. Superstar. Employee of the Year. Jessica Higgins certainly qualifies for all 3 of these accolades based on her 2012 performance.  Not only did she win the Quartermaster but Jessica was also selected by Atlanta Business Chronicle in their first-ever Employee of the Year special section.




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