Jamie Aclan Clarke climbed up into the role of Executive Director this year after having started as a Project Coordinator only 2 years ago. We asked her what her journey was like, the challenges she faced on the road and the opportunities she sees at The Ortus Club.
Tell us about your role at Ortus and how you got there.
I joined Ortus back in 2018 when the company only had around 8 regular employees, including myself. From the get-go, I was told that advancing in the company didn’t depend on the longevity of your role in the company, but more of what an individual had to offer so that really struck a chord and excited me. I started out as a Project Coordinator where my main responsibility was to execute a “project” or “dinner discussion” in the span of a month or so. Eventually, I wanted to contribute in other ways so I branched out into marketing by helping tighten up our branding. We soon found out that marketing wasn’t for me despite it being my major! (*audible laughter, HAHA*) So I moved on to sales where I stayed for a while before I ultimately ended up handling and fixing our finance systems. I’ve just recently hit my 2 year work anniversary with Ortus and I am now officially an Executive Director. Looking back, my interest in other departments and dabbling in those areas really lead me to where I am today where I’m given the opportunity to overlook the whole of the company.
What first made you join the Ortus team?
I can honestly say that I struck a goldmine when applying to this company, and I am so very lucky to have done so. I stumbled upon Ortus on a job posting site (Indeed) and I applied on a whim just because it was based in the area I saw myself living in. I even remember HR calling me out of the blue asking why I applied and I had to lie that my line was cutting in and out to buy myself time to take a look into the company site. (*audible laughter, HAHA*) Although, I did make sure to prepare myself before attending the interview which had a very interesting setup. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced before. They put a group of 15-20 people into a room (very much like our knowledge-sharing discussions now) and asked us to pitch ourselves in front of the managing partners which was very intimidating since you could tell that no one was prepared for that type of situation. Luckily, I was able to impress Sam & Jess (our managing partners) and land the job. Although, it really hit me about 3 months into the job that Ortus was — and still is — the right place for me when I realized my boss’ personal interest in my growth in the company. I love how Sam and Jess constantly believed in me. They pushed me to pursue ventures in the company that I thought were way beyond my abilities for both my age and knowledge and I am so grateful for them urging me. I’d be in a rut otherwise.
What do you like the most about working with Ortus?
The opportunities that this company is able to lay out for me. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to advance so quickly in a more traditional company and I’d probably still be working my ass off from 9-5 to get minimum wage. I also wouldn’t have been able to travel around the world to speak in front of and meet such high-level executives. In Ortus, I feel that I’m truly valued, even at such a young age. My voice is truly being heard. I also enjoy working with such a young team. There is a genuine spirit of cooperation and shared goals all revolving around helping our clients and guests that I have not seen at other corporations. And since we’re pretty new, things are always changing — always evolving — and it’s an absolute thrill being in the front row seat watching the process of a simple idea grow into an international business.
What is it really like to lead an executive discussion as a woman in her twenties?
Absolutely surreal. As you could probably tell from my previous answers that I’m a bit insecure about my age. I initially felt that I would look like a joke standing in front of a table of c-level executives, but I was pleasantly surprised when I was treated with the same amount of respect as their peers around them. It definitely helped how our managing partner, Jess, shaped my mindset to see myself as someone as just as important since I was responsible for bringing such like-minded people together into a room. It really boosted my confidence and helped me carry myself when leading the discussion.
A lot of things changed for businesses all over the world this year, especially in the events industry. Do you think your role changed as a consequence? How?
If anything positive came out of this pandemic, it would have to be that the whole situation was probably the strongest driving force that got me into my position now. Times were uncertain and I saw no other option than to step up. At first, I had seen this as a chance for some well-deserved R&R, but it was the complete opposite! For a company that thrives with human interactions, figuring out how to translate our offering to a virtual platform was a headache, but definitely something I enjoyed exploring.
What’s one thing you are excited about, thinking about the future of Ortus?
I’m excited to see how Ortus can pave the way for knowledge-sharing discussions. Like a friend of mine had mentioned — it is tough to find the time to connect with other leaders globally and to discover fresh insights, solutions, and ideas to real-life problems without all the fluff of Twitter, FB, or being inundated with content that isn’t focused on what c-level people want to talk about. If anyone is ready and primed to do this, I think we definitely are since we embody executive knowledge-sharing.