Life at KAR: Q&A with Jessica Bowman, Creative Director at KAR

This Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re proud to feature Jessica Bowman, Creative Director at KAR and co-lead of SABOR@KAR. Jess started with KAR in 2017. Since then, she has helped build multiple brands, launched numerous products and also leads KAR’s creative team. Learn more about her story below.

Can you tell us about your background and what you like most about your culture?

I’m a Panamanian American immigrant and I come from a big Latin family. My family moved to Virginia in 1999, but most of my immediate family still lives in Panama. One of the things I love about Panamanian culture is its diversity. People immigrated from all over the world to work on the canal and to take part in the international business that followed its construction. You still see that cultural diversity exist today. And of course, you can’t forget the food…gallo pinto, ropa vieja, hojaldres, tortillas, patacones, yuca frita, tamales—the list is too long for this interview! 

You’re co-lead of our employee resource group SABOR@KAR. Tell us a bit about what that means to you.

SABOR stands for, “Siempre Adelante Batallando con Orgullo y Respeto.” In English, that translates to, “Always moving forward, fighting battles with pride and respect.” The goal of our group is to support, promote and empower our Hispanic/Latinx community and allies at KAR. This is done through networking, learning opportunities, and creating open dialogue on the issues that matter to us.

What has your journey at KAR looked like?

I already knew about KAR because I had former colleagues working here, all telling me great things about the company. When a Creative Brand Manager position opened, I applied because it looked like an exciting opportunity. At the time, I had recently become a new parent, so it was a leap of faith that ended up working out well. Since then, I’ve been a part of many initiatives, challenges, and opportunities that led me to be promoted to Creative Director.

What is something you are most proud of during your time at KAR?

Helping get the creative team that I manage in the spot that we are. We work quite seamlessly together and a huge part of that is because we’ve created wonderful processes to deliver great work. So, putting creative operations in place and removing barriers for my team has got to be one of my proudest accomplishments.

What do you like the most about working at KAR?

I love the variety of work. At KAR specifically, the opportunities for creative exploration are amplified. We have several different business units with a wide range of needs. One day, you’re brand building in the traditional sense, the next you’re creating a new website, while the next week you’re promoting new product enhancements. Plus – the people. I’m excited to work with nice, talented people every day.

What is your favorite part about design?

The process. Early on in my career, the outcomes and big wins would’ve been my favorite. But I’ve recently learned to enjoy the process because I’ve found if you focus on the method, sometimes the outcome takes care of itself.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever heard?

Advocate for yourself. Throughout my career, people have helped me find productive ways to advocate and speak up for myself which I can attribute some of the success in my career to. You can’t sit there and wait for someone to notice the work you’re doing. Don’t wait for someone to pick you – pick yourself.

What is a song you can’t stop listening to right now?

Definitely Me Maten by C. Tangana and Antonio Carmona. It’s a song with an important message about coming together and striving to be remembered for something great. That and well, the beat is awesome.

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