2015 40Under40 Winner: Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO, Chairman, and Owner, Hawthorne Direct

Hawthorne-Castro has always been a TV star—just one that’s behind the scenes. She served as a talent agent for what’s now WME/William Morris Endeavor, and then worked her way up the corporate ladder at Hawthorne Direct, from account executive to CEO. Considering her focus on transforming data into insight that’s actionable, it’s no surprise that she continues to position the direct response agency as a leader not just in channels such as direct response TV, but also in data-driven capabilities such as cross-channel attribution.

Defining moment: A few years into working at the agency here, I was working full time but obtained my MBA part time…. I was client-facing before; after getting my MBA, I turned my focus internally toward the company…on the corporate branding, the strategic planning, the messaging, and really furthering that forward and taking that agency into the future.

Words to live by: Work hard, play hard.

Strategy shift: It would be the overall speed at which the world, business, and advertising works these days that’s really made me focus on scalability…. It’s not only developing internal resources—operations skills, processes, hiring people—but it’s also scalability that I can quickly add on external resources, partnerships, whatever it is, to get the needs of our [clients’] campaigns and at the speed at which business operates these days.

Up next: We’ve been building analytics and attribution models for the past 30 years. We’re happy that it’s now come to the forefront with brand-to-consumer needs. You should be able to have an advertising campaign that’s obviously beautiful and delivering the appropriate message, but [is] also effective. You should also be able to report on it [and] deliver the analytics and KPIs associated with it. That wasn’t always the case.

Advice to young marketers: Have energy, drive, and enthusiasm, but be ready for hard work.

–Elyse Dupré

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