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Joanna Derma

Joanna Derma

Senior Vice President, Client Services

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“I love building relationships — whether it’s with our clients or team members.”

Q

As VP, you wear a lot of hats. What’s your favorite part of the job?

I love building relationships — whether it’s with our clients or team members. Exceeding clients’ expectations and gaining their trust has always been my favorite part of the job and that carries through to all aspects of my professional life. I think our associates are our biggest assets. I enjoy teambuilding, mentoring individuals and watching them grow. I find real fulfillment in fostering strong interpersonal relationships.

Q

What was your very first paying job?

I was a gaming hostess at Great America when I was 15. I wore a bowtie, cullotes and suspenders. It was horrible, especially at that age, but I learned some basic marketing lessons. I could identify the right customer depending on the game I was working and customize my message to get them to play. You’d be surprised what you can learn by people-watching or — as we call it today — doing our research.

Q

What was your favorite college course?

It was an Intro to Studio Art Class called Elements of Design. It taught you how to break things down to their most basic levels. It showed me the importance of how looking at things differently can help bring them into focus. Really, perspective is a pretty important thing to understand in life in general.

Q

How did you get started in this industry?

I didn’t have a direct path to marketing, digital or healthcare. It was a pretty winding road. I was focused on CRM at my old agency when a new healthcare client wanted to “try” emails, so they pulled me in. It was so long ago, no one knew what a subject line was, but I never looked back. It’s been challenging and exciting every day since.

Q

If you could have lunch with any person, living or dead (other than a relative), who would it be?

I am a huge Mark Twain fan. I think his wit, humor and insight into the human spirit is unparalleled, and the man could really tell a story. I would love to just listen and laugh.

Q

What chore do you absolutely hate doing?

Cleaning bathrooms. Really, who likes cleaning a toilet? And dishes. My husband and I trade off. He does dishes, and I do laundry.

Q

What's something about you that most people don't know?

I’m such an open book, there’s probably not too much. Some people may not know that my husband and I were on House Hunters about eight years ago. We didn’t even know what the show was. We were looking for a house, and without us knowing, our realtor took our picture and sent it into the producers. It seemed odd at the time, but it was fun getting to see ourselves on TV. It was a great experience.

Q

What is your favorite drink?

I love dirty martinis. The dirtier, the better.

Q

Why were you given your name?

I was named after a street in my hometown. My parents saw Joanna on a street sign and liked it. It wasn’t fun going to kindergarten with two kids who lived on Joanna Avenue, but I like the name now. And, I like being just “Jo” to my friends and family.

Q

If you could live during any time period, which would it be?

I’m way too used to the comforts of the 21st century. I need running water and my smartphone, so I’m pretty happy here. And, let’s face it, women’s rights didn’t really come into their own until the 20th century. Who wants to be oppressed, right?

Q

What was the last good book you read?

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman.

Q

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl, for sure.