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GEEK OF THE WEEK: JESSICA MOORE

by Jack DePoe | Dec 10, 2013
jessica-moore

“Passport Required”

Jessica Moore is a country girl at heart—except when she’s in the city, when she confesses to being a city girl. There’s just no in-between for her.

“I don’t think I’d enjoy the suburbs,” says Jessica, who currently works as a Client Advocate in EA’s retail, media, real estate and entertainment practice. “I like the fact that, when you live in the heart of the city, you’ve got everything right at your fingertips, while in the country you can slow down and relax a little more.”

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Jessica and her two sisters, Jacalyn and Jeannette. (Ryan Walker
Photography - Innisfil, ON, 2009)


And relaxing is exactly what Jessica does when she returns to her hometown of Innisfil, ON, where she spends time with family enjoying the peace and quiet of nature while hiking,  camping and  snowboarding.  The small community boasts a population of just over 30,000 and is situated in the heart of Simcoe County, just south of Barrie. It’s there Jessica goes to relax from long days analyzing client data, uncovering insights and trends from their target groups, and creating compelling presentations to communicate the results.

“You can feel a connection to a language or culture,” she explains, “and it can work with your personality or not. I felt that Spanish and Latin America was a better fit for me.”

But Jessica’s trips home are just a small example of her travelling ways; she caught the wanderlust bug as a teenager. While studying at the University of Waterloo, she wanted to be a translator and interpreter, and she intended to select business studies as a double major along with German translation.  But something funny happened on the road to Frankfurt.

“My intention was to pick German because I already had a solid basis in French and wanted to learn a third language,” she recalls. “But I mixed up the course selection process and wound up studying Spanish along with German.”

After pursuing both languages for a year, she spent her first co-op assignment in Germany and, after that experience, decided to focus more on Spanish. “You can feel a connection to a language or culture,” she explains, “and it can work with your personality or not. I felt that Spanish and Latin America was a better fit for me.”

Her program at Waterloo offered a mixed degree of arts and business, requiring economics and business courses as well as her studies in a language major.  With a final goal now set to become a business translator in the Spanish-speaking world, Jessica decided it was time to pack her bags and dig out her passport.

Jessica’s first Latin American adventure occurred in Holguin, Cuba, where she spent five weeks in 2006 studying at the University of Holguin and staying in student housing. The program was a joint venture involving Waterloo and the University of Western Ontario, and Jessica made many friends with whom she remains close, including her roommate at the time—also named Jessica—who also hails from the Toronto area.

“It was an incredible experience,” she recalls. “Cuba is a unique country and it was enlightening to see there is a world out there with a variety of ways of life that work very well for people in different contexts.”

Upon returning from Cuba and newly inspired by her expertise in Spanish, Jessica continued her academic trajectory and graduated in 2008 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in arts and business from Waterloo.

“You could hear the earth start to move in the distance and then get closer and closer,” she recalls. “Then it feels like a truck has just slammed into the side of your house.”

On graduation, looking for ways to improve on her experience and gain further practice in business, she enrolled in a one-year program at Humber College on international project management. This was followed by her second trip abroad, this time to Chile, where she worked at a university researching gender inequality within their institution. Some of Jessica’s more memorable moments in Chile came shortly after she arrived. In February 2010, an earthquake rocked the Andean nation, and though she missed the actual quake, she was there for the aftershocks, some strong enough to send her fleeing her house for safety. “You could hear the earth start to move in the distance and then get closer and closer,” she recalls. “Then it feels like a truck has just slammed into the side of your house.”

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Jessica paints her first surfboard. (Pascuales, Mexico, 2011)

Happily unscathed by earthquakes, Jessica returned to Canada five months later. She started working for the Toronto non-profit 8-80 Cities, and was assigned to look at ways to make the city friendlier for people of all ages—from 8 to 80.  But the longing to travel returned and, once again, Jessica’s gaze was drawn southward, this time to Colima, Mexico.

In Mexico, Jessica worked for the Canadian International Development Agency, where she aided the municipal institute of urban planning in Colima in conducting transportation research. She fondly recalls her time in Mexico as “the best trip”, noting it was her first encounter with the Pacific Ocean.

 “West Coast Mexico is so beautiful,” she recalls. “I spent a lot of time exploring the landscape: the ocean, the surrounding hills and volcanoes. I feel fortunate to have been able to experience nature in the raw, especially while learning to surf. There is something seriously magical and frightening about the Pacific Ocean.”

It was following her stint in Mexico that Jessica, while taking stock of her life, decided she wanted to improve her research skills and pursue that area of her career.  So she came home, signed up for the research analyst program at Georgian College in Barrie, and began the daily commute from Innisfil.  And like many other notable graduates of the program (such as Denver Redman and Hanna Wagner) she joined Environics Analytics where she became fascinated by the power of demographics and the application of research to solve business problems.  She likes that her role as a Client Advocate allows her to look at the big picture, applying research to deliver powerful insight and direction to her clients on how to better serve their customers.  The challenge of learning a new area of expertise appeals to her, as she considers EA another step on her journey of exploration, both of herself and of the world.

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Jessica and her mom on the dunes of the Atacama Desert in Chile. (2010)

“There are so many smart people working here,” she says. “It really is interesting to sit in a meeting with co-workers and brainstorm on interpretations of the data and research we see on a daily basis.”

Now firmly entrenched in Toronto, Jessica makes her home on the city’s East Side (near Logan and Gerrard) and lives in an Urban Spice neighbourhood (PRIZM cluster 42).  She currently lives with a friend who also worked in Colima—though they met in Toronto—and she enjoys the eclectic mix of flavours and cultures right outside her door.  To the north is the Danforth with its shops and tasty Greek restaurants; to the east is Little India and right outside her front steps is Chinatown East. An avowed non-car person, she rides her bike most places and has volunteered her time with an immigration settlement service, most recently helping a Colombian woman become more acclimated to Toronto. 

Her free time is often spent exploring her neighbourhood, though she also likes to go out for an evening of dancing. She’s no slouch on the dance floor, especially when it comes to the tropical rhythms of Caribbean and Latin American music like merengue, salsa, bachata and reggae.  And when the weather permits, she’ll make the ten-minute ride down to the beach to enjoy Lake Ontario and the other amenities Toronto has to offer. If she weren’t working as a client advocate, Jessica says she would love to try her hand at being a DJ of electronic, dance or indie music (with a good mix of Latin flavour thrown in).

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Hiking the Bruce Trail at Bruce Peninsula National Park. (September 2013)

No matter where she wanders—city or country, in Canada or abroad—Jessica continues to seek new experiences and expand her mind.  Her international experience has given her a broader perspective about people, something she says would never have happened had she not made that fateful mistake while selecting her university courses. “I like to find my own way,” she says. “But sometimes, whether it’s trekking on the side of a volcano in Mexico, picking classes in Waterloo or diving into a customer database, you have to take the unmarked path and see where the road takes you.”

For a country girl from Innisfil, that’s not a bad approach to taking on the world.

—Jack DePoe