Some say the key to success is to surround yourself with successful people. This is certainly the mantra for Jennifer Maxson, ’94. It is her job to help successful people take advantage of their full potential.
Her winding career path started at GVSU when she chose to study public relations. She knew right away that she wanted to help businesses prosper. She just needed the tools to make it happen. One of her professors, *Fred Chapman, gave her those tools. As one of her first mentors, Chapman brought real-world experience to the classroom; a world Maxson couldn’t wait to be a part of.
“I wanted to help organizations build awareness in order to grow their business,” she said. “Help them build leaders in their organizations to lead the business, lead change, and lead people.”
After graduation, Maxson maintained the close relationships with her GVSU peers. She was working as a marketing and event coordinator when one of her former classmates mentioned he was leaving his position at Grand Rapids bases PR firm, Nancy Skinner & Associates and needed to find a replacement. Maxson became the firm’s communications manager in 1996. After two years and a promotion, Maxson was put in charge of managing and coaching some of the firm’s essential business relationships. When the firm was acquired by Varnum Consulting in 2003, she was asked to stay on as the firm’s consultant and coach.
Now, as practice group leader for Varnum, Maxson works to improve the leadership and success of many employees at large corporations such as Amway, Herman Miller, and Spectrum Health. Her talents extend into the community where she is a volunteer with such organizations as Wolverine World Wide Family YMCA and the VanAndel Institute. Maintaining her ties to GVSU, she also mentors individuals with the Peter Cook Leadership Academy in the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies.
Maxon’s positive outlook and enthusiasm has created success not only for her, but for those around her. She has made a career out of creating leaders. The motivation she gets from seeing others succeed inspires her to work harder. She hopes to pass her work ethic on to not only to her clients, but also to her children.
“Bring value to others and in turn they will be willing to help and advise you.”
* Fred Chapman passed away in July of 2012.