Jesse Ford, BAC '07, MBA '10
Jesse Ford, BAC ’07, MBA ’10, started his professional career while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Walsh College through an internship with American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM). The internship opened the door to an eight- year career with AAM that gave him promotional opportunities in various treasury and finance roles. During this time he obtained his MBA with a focus on international business and his Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) certificate. After eight years, Jesse left AAM to pursue his own entrepreneurial ventures.
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Jesse Ford is now the managing director at The Work, a creative production company located in Detroit. His responsibilities include accounting, taxes, payroll, and human resources. In addition, he is an executive producer.
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Interview with Jesse:
After a successful career at AAM, your decision to work for yourself must have been difficult to make. How did you come to that decision?
“The decision to leave AAM was definitely difficult to make. AAM provided opportunities to learn and grow within their organization that I am extremely thankful to have. However, this was one of those once in a lifetime choices that I did not want to regret. My partners and I had built up the business as a side job, and we wanted to go all in and give it a chance.”
What struggles did you experience and how did you get through them?
“One of the main struggles that I work through every day is time management: Determining how to spend your time, what task is priority, and what tasks should be delegated. As a business owner, there is never a shortage of work to do. If you aren’t working on projects for your clients, you are working on back office tasks, if not that, then recruiting new clients and employees, if not that, then something else, and it goes on and on. For us, simple communication tends to be the best fix for this chaotic workload. If everyone on the team knows and understands what needs to be done and in what order, they can pitch in and help out. We currently use cloud- based project management software that helps organize the task lists and priorities of the business.”
What advice would you give to an alumnus or student thinking of making a similar transition?
“Working for yourself definitely has its pros and cons. Investment in your business may require you to miss a few weeks or months of payroll, to tap into your personal credit to make a vendor or tax payment, and to work long, tiresome hours. All of these things combined are realities of most business owners. On the other side, there can be great opportunities if you surround yourself with smart, hardworking people with similar passions and goals. Combined with a great product and/or service, there are no limits.”
How has your experiences with Walsh College influenced you?
“Walsh College helped me learn early on how to multitask and manage my schedule. I was able to work full-time through both my undergraduate and graduate programs at Walsh College, which allowed me to earn my education and get the required experience in the field simultaneously. Most of my professors at Walsh College were also managing full-time professional positions as well as teaching in the evenings. This was a great influence early on and a demonstration of hard work.”
What projects are you working on now? Anything we should watch out for?
“The Work is a creative production company based in Detroit. We are most known in the Metro Detroit area because of our X Games Detroit video that we created last spring. We have had a pretty busy year since then. We work with a diverse customer base, touching the automotive, food and beverage, home goods, and music and entertainment industries, providing creative consulting and video production and postproduction services.
Visit The Work at www.theworkinc.com.
One of the projects that I have been especially excited to be a part of is a video that we created in collaboration with WDET. The full video is approximately 30 minutes long and it is a conversation between Matthew Dear of Ghostly International and Jad Abumrad of Radio Lab discussing their influences, passions, and steps in their careers. The video initially premiered and was on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit, and there has been a subsequent screening in New York just last month. Details relating its full release are in the works, but it is definitely a piece to be on the watch for, especially if you are a fan of WDET, Ghostly International, or Radio Lab.”
Please join Walsh College in applauding Jesse Ford in his continued success by adding your comments below.
To nominate an alumnus to applaud, contact Duc Abrahamson, Alumni & Student Relations Manager at (248) 823-1298.