Shukert’s Creative Journey Has Taken Many Forms, Most Recently Marketing 12/28/16 12/28/16 10:40:57 AM
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Jenni Shukert loves the small, family atmosphere of her employer, AO, an architectural firm, where she gets to be “part of the conversation.” Photos Courtesy of AO
Shukert’s Creative Journey Has Taken
Many Forms, Most Recently Marketing
By Julien R. Fielding
The Daily Record
Jenni Shukert comes from a “pretty creative family.” Before starting his company, Shukert Construction, her father, Jamie, studied graphic design and her uncle, Marty, is a principal at RDG Planning & Design and before that was Omaha’s city planner.
“Growing up I always loved art,” she said. “My mom always said ‘you have such an eye for color.’”
In her youth, Shukert was introduced to interior design. After high school, she decided to become an interior designer herself, so she enrolled in the program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She had completed her first two years at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. It is strongly recommended that students get an internship during their third year, so Shukert found herself at the career fair, with her portfolio. It was there that she met Randy Brown from Randy Brown Architects.
“He asked me if I had ever thought of doing graphics for a living,” she said.
For the next two summers, she worked at Randy Brown, eventually segueing into marketing.
“As an interior designer, you are taught to think critically, and you have to develop your presentation skills; how to best tell your story,” she said.
Shukert left Randy Brown Architects in 2008, and joined a smaller, Elkhorn-based firm, where she was an interior designer and marketing director. She was recruited by Altus Architectural Studios in 2010 for marketing. In 2012 she joined Leo A. Daly.
Shukert’s husband, Dale Luebbert, was working as an intern architect at AO, formerly known as The Architectural Offices, so Shukert got to know and like the partners and staff. “I wanted to go to a smaller firm, and I wanted to be out of the office more,” she said.
Even though, in its 33 years of business, AO had never had a marketing person, the partners decided to take a chance on Shukert. “As director of marketing, my job is to build existing client relationships and attract new business,” she said. “I’m out meeting people, strategizing, developing relationships and finding out what’s happening in Omaha. It’s awesome working for an architectural firm that allows me to be part of the conversation.”
AO is a “generalist firm,” that has a lot of repeat clients and gets the bulk of its new business through referrals. Shukert wants to build on those existing clients while also expanding connections in and outside of Omaha. Just a few of AO’s diverse projects have included Legend Comics & Coffee, the restoration of Joslyn Castle, First Savings Bank, KANEKO Bow Truss Gallery, and Girls Inc. of Omaha’s new health and wellness addition.
Working at AO is like being in a tight-knit family, Shukert said. “My bosses feel like my coworkers. We have an open office and everyone gets along. There is a lot of trust and respect there. It’s very family oriented.”
And this is good, because family is very important to her. “I had a great upbringing. My parents were very involved, and they were extremely supportive. I knew I could do whatever I set out to do.
“I was also very close to my dad’s parents. My paternal grandmother was very giving and I learned a lot from her. My mom, Ruth, grew up in South Omaha and she was a self-taught computer programmer. [She was] very smart. She worked as a subcontractor and did my dad’s accounting.” In addition, Shukert has a sister, an account executive with Adobe in San Francisco, and a brother who works at Mutual of Omaha.
Her family taught her the value of giving back to the community. Since 2010, Shukert has been a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. She is on the boards of CREW Omaha Metro, Field Club Homeowners League and Girls Inc. of Omaha. Last year, she was a member of Leadership Omaha’s Class 38.
“I see myself as a part of Omaha’s growth, and I want to set the groundwork for the city,” she said. “I just need to figure out where I can have the biggest impact.”
When she isn’t working or volunteering, Shukert loves traveling. “I love to experience new cities, cultures and traditions,” she said. “My husband and I are foodies and we like to find new restaurants. I’m a very adventurous eater.”
She and her husband are also busy working on their 1909 home in the Field Club area. In fact, they have been building their garage for the last three years. Shukert’s husband, who has a master’s degree in architecture from UNL, is busy with his business, Polynomial, at 1051 S. 23rd St. The firm offers “design assist, specialty contracting, product design, and prototyping.”
“We also have two Bergamas-cos,” she added. “They are a sheep herding breed. We got them because they are hypoallergenic – they don’t shed. They start to ‘dread’ [as in dreadlocks] after they are a year old. They are super laid back.”
AO is at 4610 Dodge St. For more information about the company, go to aoomaha.co.
Jenni Shukert (second from left) likes the “open office” feel of AO, where everyone feels “like a tight-knit family.”