Culture, Process

PM Spotlight: Jennifer Ganakas

Nicole Hackley — October 09, 2014

Jen, or as I like to call her Jenny from the Block, is a native Northerner originally hailing from Michigan.  She has a serious obsession with Jimmy John’s sandwiches (like, serious).  I’ve tried to help her with this addiction by providing ample alternatives, but she says that JJ stands by their slogan of freaky fast.  When you’re as busy and active as she is, I guess it’s understandable.

Jen’s previously worked in Chicago as a Senior Brand Marketing Manager at NBC Sports Group (lucky).  Jen finally decided she’d had enough of the cold, so with family already in Austin, she made her way down here as fast as she could.  We were lucky enough to scoop her up back in January.

Some of my favorite things about Jen are her positivity and her ability to make people laugh (as you will see from this interview).  She is a stellar Project Manager fostering and cultivating relationships with both her fellow co-workers and clients.  She brings a lot to the White Lion table, and we wanted to share that with you.

So we dropped by Cafe Josie, ordered their hibiscus lemonade and butternut squash soup (both highly recommended), and got down to business!


[Nicole Hackley] Personally speaking, who do you admire the most?

[Jennifer Ganakas] My mom Sally. She is just one of the coolest people. Smart, funny, strong, never complains, I just really love her.

[NH] What was your very first job?

[JG] Besides babysitting, I worked at a sailing center on a little teeny lake (not one of the Great Lakes) and I had never even been sailing in my life. Had a race on the boats and didn’t even know how to work the boats but I won! I basically cleaned and painted the boats. I was 16 maybe 17. Also a lifeguard around that time.

[NH] What is your single most significant accomplishment?

[JG] I feel accomplished because of the people around me and the relationships I maintain. Whether with friends, family, coworkers, etc.

[NH] What are a few of your most memorable character shaping experiences which may have occurred professionally?

[JG] I am a work in progress. Get back to me in a few years.

[NH] What do you enjoy most about being a PM at White Lion?

[JG] The range of people I get to work with. I get to learn something everyday from all the interactions I have. There is a very high level of intelligence here. I am always switching gears, from developer, other PM’s, clients. All sorts of personalities!

[NH] Do you consider yourself a creative person? If so, what are some creative achievements, projects or situations where your creativity was put to use to solve problems?

[JG] Yes, I do think I am a creative person. I am analytical but I use to do event planning which takes creativity.

[NH] How do you recharge or relax on the weekends?

[JG] I spend time with my dog Mosely and sister Erin. I like to explore Austin. I feel like I just got here but it has been over a year! I feel like I am still on vacation! So much to see and do.

[NH] Mosley is such a unique name, how did you come up with it?

[JG] When I was younger, my sister and I got a dog we named Partly and we would argue over whose dog it was. So we would say the dog was partly mine or partly yours and hence the dogs name Partly. When I got Mosley I was only suppose to foster her, but after a few weeks I told my mom “well, she is mostly mine” and that morphed into Mosley.

[NH] If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive of your choosing, who would it be?

[JG] I would want to have dinner with my mom (who lives in Michigan) and my mother’s parents who are now deceased. I would want my mom to be there for that.

[NH] If you were going to be an island by yourself for 3-months and you could bring along 3 things, what would they be?

[JG] People or Things?

[NH] Either, it doesn’t matter but only 3.

[JG] Will I know I’ll get off the island eventually?

[NH] I don’t know…

[JG] Will there be food there? 

[NH] Not sure.

[JG] Okay, I guess a plane and a pilot to get me off the island. And a never ending margarita machine while I wait for the plane and pilot to rescue me.

[NH] What are you passionate about both inside and outside of work?

[JG] I am passionate about people. I wouldn’t say I have a cause, but I am passionate about relationships and how people feel and act. The human plight as a whole.  And beets. Like the vegetable. Not music beats.
(side note: she is eating a beet salad while we do this interview and she is pretty into it!

[NH] What is your ideal vacation?

[JG] I don’t have a particular place but it has to be a mix of total relaxation and adventure. I want the best of both. I want to be lounging on the beach one day and then exploring a cave the next. 

[NH] What is your best vacation to date?

[JG] Australia. I went after college with some girlfriends. It was actually a study aboard and we only needed 3 credit hours to graduate and the only class offered was this farming class. We thought it would be easy enough. But we were actually milking cows and doing farm work! We did that for 3 weeks and got the credits, and then traveled for 3 months.

[NH] What celebrity would you most want as your neighbor?

[JG] No one too famous. I don’t want the paparazzi following me. Probably a chef. Like Bobby Flay. He would have good BBQ parties I think.

[NH] What is on your “stop doing list?”

[JG] I don’t have one, but it is a good reminder to start doing.

[NH] And what is on your “start doing list?”

[JG] Make my “stop doing list.”

[NH] What superhero power do you wish you had?

[JG] Teleportation and this is the only plausible answer to this question, ever!

[NH] What are your favorite things to do around Austin?

[JG] Eat, eat and eat some more. Seriously, there are so many great places to eat here and in the most unexpected places. Like a hole in the wall place or a gas station. You walk in and find the most amazing food. You don’t expect that! You never know where you can find great food here.

[NH] Favorite Austin restaurant?

[JG] I just like to try new places all the time. So I don’t usually go to the same place. If I had to choose I guess Josephine was really good. I only had brunch but it was incredible!

[NH] Are you sure it isn’t Jimmy Johns?

[JG] Haha! No.

[NH] Greatest accomplishment to date at White Lion?

[JG] I am really too hard on myself but I guess maintaining and building relationships. Keeping relations going. Being a relationship builder.

[NH] Completely agree on that.

[NH] Finish these sentences: The world needs…

[JG] More happy people and hugs. Love.

[NH] I feel most alive when…

[JG] Traveling.

[NH] If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

[JG] Do not take yourself too seriously.

[NH] For some reason your name always prompts me to break out into a song, either “I’m just Jenny from the Block” by J. Lo or “B.A.N.A.N.A.S” by Gwen Stefani (changed of course to  G.A.N.A.K.A.S) Do you get this often? These should be your theme songs when you enter the office for work I think.

[JG] Yes, a past co-worker used to sing the BANANAS song as GANAKAS! I have to tell him that you do it as well.

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