Jai Ferrell

Jai Ferrell

ΦΒΚ, Spelman College Occupation: Marketing and Branding Manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) Field of Study: Theater studies


What’s the biggest challenge of marketing a major airport?

One of the challenges in the industry is the evolving social behavior of travelers. Rather than ask a guest services agent for dining recommendations on concourses, they want to view ratings, get turn-by-turn directions from an app, and order online with delivery options to their gate before takeoff. From parallel runways to underground transit systems taking passengers to concourses, ATL has always been a leader in innovation.

How did you parlay the skills you acquired in college into a career? 

The marketing profession is unique because there isn’t a standard path or blueprint for career progression. Starting with an undergraduate degree in theater studies from a women’s college … I’ve worked for a championship baseball team, produced an animation series for a cable network, marketed award-winning news programming, planned marketing initiatives for high school sports, completed product launches for beauty brands. Interesting career combination, right? Each experience prepared me in my current role managing marketing at the world’s most traveled airport.

How has your membership in Phi Beta Kappa impacted your life—personally or professionally? 

Besides our faith, my family has always made education a priority. PBK membership is a validation of my dedication to academia, leadership and career development. During my senior year at Spelman, I set up meetings and lunch dates with the hope that the employment fairies would sprinkle my dream job and I would be off to take over the world. While I didn’t see any fairy godmothers, I did get several meeting confirmations, many of which were from fellow PBK members or professionals with knowledge of PBK.

What do you do to keep feeding your brain?

I keep current on social events, emerging trends in technology, and harvest a healthy network of professional peers. I genuinely love marketing and implementing new ideas. I get paid to feed my brain, then experiment with 100 million people a year. I would say I’m living a marketer’s dream.

What’s your favorite book and why? 

Frans Johansson’s “The Medici Effect” is my favorite book because it was my first formal introduction to how innovation works. The book details how intersections in diversity, culture and life experiences can solve challenges—a concept termed “disruptive innovation.” As I reflect on my career experiences and the array of roles I’ve held, the career plan I initially developed has been disrupted and I am grateful for creative chaos.