Jessie Underhill has always been passionate about storytelling and collaboration. In college, she set out to avoid the business world and pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater/Original Works. Although she received an ‘A’ in Advanced Clown, she quickly learned that it wouldn’t pay the bills. Her journey led her into project administration.
As a Project Administrative Manager, Jessie provides oversight, training, and guidance for our Project Admin team in Seattle. Once dubbed the most seasoned Newforma user at ZGF, she happily helps project teams set up systems and procedures that keep projects moving forward while tracking the important little details. And, her theater training still comes in handy every day. We recently caught up with Jessie to talk about roles inside and outside the office.
When did you realize you wanted to work at an architecture firm? My mom worked in HR systems with engineers and architects most of my childhood. I remember going with her to a children’s holiday party where her architectural colleagues created a Dr. Seuss wonderland in the office lobby. As an eight-year-old, I was completely blown away by the transformation of space. Later, as an adult, I stumbled upon an administrative role at KPFF Consulting Engineers. It must be in my genes because I easily came to love working with engineers and their thoughtful problem solving. When I was ready for a new challenge, I followed my passion for storytelling to an experiential marketing agency. It was fun being surrounded by creative energy, but I missed working alongside technical professionals as well. That’s when I found the sweet spot working with architects at ZGF.
How does living in the Pacific Northwest inspire you? Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area and then moving to Seattle have inspired a deep appreciation of nature. I love camping in the gorgeous natural landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Chatting around a campfire is as good as it gets.
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning and herbal tea at night.
Favorite tool of the trade? Bluebeam.
Favorite movie? Paper Moon.
Are you reading a book you just can’t put down? I’ve been reading a pretty heavy Jon Krakauer book, so I’m in the market for a light read next!
Do you have any hobbies outside of the office? I love surrounding myself with theater and performance, even as my own participation as an actor ebbs and flows. I had a major hip surgery last year and have taken some time to recover, but I’m starting to feel the itch to be in another show.
What is the best advice you have ever received? Every role is important; fill it and make each moment count.