Jason Larkins, 37
Manager of Web Services
Wise, Alpharetta, Ga.

Jason Larkins always has had a passion for design. In high school, those talents were captured on the pages of the newsletter and the yearbook. After graduation, Larkins landed a job with Quintel Web Development, a local company based in Wheeling, W.Va. His involvement on the web development side of business eventually crossed over into print and marketing design, allowing Larkins to put his aesthetic eye to use. For instance, he collaborated with local artists to create CD jackets and promotional materials, including posters, merchandise and billboard design, for music stores. It was a fun gig, but no match for love. “I found my way to Atlanta, chasing my girlfriend at the time, who is now my lovely wife,” Larkins said. “Once there, I started freelancing as a designer, creating anything from online marketing emails to packaging layouts for Philips Design.” But because of the security that freelance work lacks, it left Larkins wanting more. He found a contract-to-hire information technology position with Wise and later transitioned to marketing, where he continues to create, design and develop new skills on a daily basis.

Why he loves the industry: I love how the industry is constantly changing, forcing us to be creative in finding new ways to promote the business.

Age roadblocks and advantages: The biggest challenges I have with my age in this industry is that everyone seems to already [understand] everything there is to know about the business. When I learn something new about the industry, it is old news to everyone else. But that is where my biggest advantage comes in—I can then take something old to others and make it new for the newcomers to the industry. I am able to create training documents and sell sheets to help promote the business in different ways.

His biggest career influence: Marc Picardo, director of IT for Wise. Marc was my first manager and mentor. He was responsible for hiring me and took me under his wing to help progress my skills past designing. He has continued to be a mentor and has taught me development skills that I am using today to help drive the business as technology continues to push its way in the industry. I am able to use these skills in a system I created that allows our customers to generate high-resolution, personalized marketing sell sheets online that can then be downloaded and printed.

His most meaningful business accomplishment: The most meaningful accomplishment so far has been my progression from a contract-based employee to a full-time employee with a management title.

His differentiating factor: I have learned more coding and development to help support the business. As ink is being placed on paper, I am able to create tools and applications to help promote the business and support our customers.

What he does for fun: Woodworking—anything from remodeling to building something new. It is an enjoyable feeling to take an idea or design and make it a reality. I [also] enjoy being a husband to my beautiful wife, Susan, and a father to our amazing daughter, Abby.