Olamide: What drew you to international trade?
Jeri: I studied biology in college but my first job in trade was for a vertically-integrated foreign company in the garment industry. My job was to be a buyer liaison to make sure the products met the required specifications for import and export. Working there, I realized that I wanted to work in trade and that the technical aspect of trade really mattered. Afterwards, I went to the World Trade Institute at Pace University where I studied and got my customs brokers license before taking another job in trade. Ten percent of my duties dealt with advising clients which was the best part of the job, which led me to go to law school.
Olamide: What is the best trade job you have ever had? Why?
Jeri: I love what I currently do at TradeMoves. I’ve also really enjoyed my in-house trade roles. I really enjoy any job that combines law and compliance with business strategy. The people you work with matter a lot, great coworkers make all the difference!
Olamide: If you can talk about it, what was the most complex/ fulfilling trade issue you have tackled in the past?
Jeri: One of the trade issues I found most fulfilling was helping a multinational company achieve Importers Self-Assessment (ISA). The other was building the compliance department in an organization from scratch. I had to talk to every department in the company to achieve it, it was both incredibly stressful at times but also very satisfying.
Olamide: What trends do you see/anticipate over the next year impacting cross-border trade?
Jeri: I think countries will continue to advance foreign policy goals through trade. For example, the US has countries that it doesn’t trade with, but that is also changing. Sudan was previously comprehensively embargoed, but the US decided last year to normalize relations with Sudan. Countries are currently tackling issues of intellectual property and humanitarian issues like forced labor in China and nuclear proliferation in Iran. Increasingly, countries have realized that trade can be a way to achieve their foreign policy goals.
Olamide: What do you think the biggest barrier is for women in trade? How can we overcome this?
Jeri: Women in the United States are lucky to have access to education and opportunities. There are societal and cultural expectations which affect women in the workplace, even women working for multinational companies. Women and men also have different tastes so this might affect their career choices and paths. Some of it stems from the way women and girls are raised differently from men. Women have to expect that they can succeed doing things their own way. Sometimes, women are their own worst enemies because they find it difficult to advocate for themselves-- especially in large settings.
Olamide: Are there any women in trade who have inspire(d) you?
Jeri: I have worked for several women-owned companies and all the women have been very inspiring. While working for Duke Energy, my boss Tiffany Greene showed me that women could excel at their jobs, even in an industry that has historically been dominated by men It is inspiring to see other women in leadership positions.
Olamide: Did you have female mentors and what wisdom did they share with you?
Jeri: Tiffany Greene, one of my mentors also recruited me to work at Duke Energy. She showed me that there is nothing stopping women from being successful. Seeing other women and being around successful women makes it more achievable.
Olamide: What advice would you give to other anyone looking to enter the field of international trade?
Jeri: It is important to try different things and follow the path that sparks your passion.
At the end of our interview, I asked Jeri a series of rapid-fire trade questions to hear what comes immediately to mind.