We’ve been sharing some Q&As with each member of our esteemed team, and would be absolutely remiss not to do the same for our Founder & President. Jennifer Woods launched Traversant Group in 2013, and has spent the last eight years leading and growing the firm to its position today as a highly sought after and deeply trusted government consulting firm. We decided it was only right to put the spotlight on Jenn herself, the woman behind the magic, so you could all get to know her a bit better. Here’s what she had to say.
Tell us about your education history. I am nearly an Arizona native, grew up in the Paradise Valley Mall area and am a proud Horizon High School alum. I also love to share that I’m a Triple Cat from the University of Arizona (Bear Down!). I have a Bachelor’s of Science with Honors in Retailing and Consumer Studies, a Master in Business Administration and a law degree. If you can’t tell, I’m a big proponent of education and a lifelong learner.
How did you come to be on this career path? What jobs have you held? Believe it or not, I spent the first part of my career working in retail as a sales associate and then worked my way up to an assistant store manager. Retail was a fun field, but even more importantly, it taught me the importance of customer service and branding. These are two skill sets that I use daily in my work with Traversant Group.
After graduating with my MBA and law degree, I practiced law for a number of years first as a judicial clerk at the Arizona State Court of Appeals and then as an associate at two national law firms. My practice focused on corporate compliance and white collar criminal defense, which exposed me to the challenges of government contracting. I was inspired to make the jump to lobbying in 2005, and set my sights on helping companies avoid litigation through effective government relations. And now, here I am!
Why did you start Traversant Group? I took a little time off after leaving government service to explore new career options. I had a large network and people who worked with me previously kept asking for my help. I started filling what I realized were gaps in the market, and my services business just organically grew from there. I’m really proud that some of my clients have been with me since the very start of my career, too; it’s the biggest compliment I could receive.
What does Traversant mean? Most people don’t need to have ever worked in government operations and politics, yet they inherently know it’s all very complicated. They’re right! So, the idea is that my firm and I help clients “traverse” government dealings. My team also happens to be very “versant” in business development, procurement and legislative strategies.
What do you like most about working with government? I genuinely enjoy working with public officials to help them support their agency missions. It’s extremely fulfilling. Outside of the public servants, government also provides essential services and deals with complex problems. For a creative thinker like me, it is always rewarding to think about this.
Do you have a favorite project or engagement you’ve led? I don’t have favorites! I am so very proud of all of my clients, and my Traversant Group team.
Do you have any quotes you live by, or principles that guide you in life and work? I live by the principle that Traversant Group creates win-win outcomes. We only spend our time on projects that result in a win for our client and a win for government. We won’t rest until this is achieved.
What is a day in the life of Jennifer Woods like? Well, I have two sons, ages 9 and 11. So mornings start really early with packing lunches and backpacks, making breakfast and finding school uniforms. I also have two Ridgebacks who are full of energy and demand my attention every morning. Once we’re done rushing to get the kids to school, I spend my days working on a variety of client matters and in meetings. Before you know it, the school bus arrives and the evening shift begins with warming up dinner, homework and sports practices. The day ends with finishing up work. Thank goodness I have a rockstar husband who shares the responsibilities with me!
How many hours of sleep do you get? I’d say I need 8 hours of sleep, but I get much less!
What is your vision for Traversant Group, five to 10 years from now? Our clients have asked us to replicate our business model in other states, and I think it would be fun to have offices in a few states five to 10 years from now.
What do you like to do for fun, outside of work?
In my “off” time, you are most likely going to find me on a soccer field watching one of my sons in a match; that’s my happy place. I am also hoping to get back into my yoga practice and learn how to play golf soon.
What are some good books you’ve read recently, or TV shows you’ve found entertaining or inspiring?
I’ve become a fan of Master Class because the topics are diverse and fascinating. As far as TV shows go, I have some favorites like Ted Lasso, Cobra Kai, Silicon Valley, The Crown and Schitt’s Creek. I really gravitate toward comedy or drama; there’s just so much out there now.
What is something that your clients would never guess about you?
I have always enjoyed art and planned to go to art school on the east coast after high school graduation. I also love playing instruments! Growing up, I played the piano, clarinet and tuba (yes, I even played the tuba in marching band). Recently, I started learning the drums. I hope to be able to play a rock song for my 50th birthday. How cool would that be?