The Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation is publishing profiles featuring some of their more than 6000 former scholarship recipients. This series gives you an up close and personal insight into the thoughts and motivations of the former students who are a part of our industry today. As our current employees reach retirement and leave, replacing them becomes an increasingly important factor for many companies. Here is one story…
PureAir Greenwood, MS
Amber Lucassen Sparks graduated from the University of Mobile, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Web Design in 2003. She continued at the University of Mobile to receive a Master’s in Business Administration in 2005.
How did you first get interested in the graphic arts, or decide to focus on graphic communications in school?
I worked for a forms distributor through college, and began doing prepress work and logo creation. The more experience I gained, the more I loved the creative process of designing.
Did you take any courses in high school that were related to graphic communications, or that prepared you for your planned career?
None were offered in my high school. The closest thing was a class on Microsoft publisher.
How do you think going through your education process prepared you for the workforce?
Through my education, the most valuable thing I learned was the critical thinking process. I learned how to learn. By asking questions, gathering information through research, etc., you can teach yourself almost anything. I took a class in database design and management and it helped me to think like a computer using if/then/else statements. I have used this way of thinking to learn many new skills and new programs.
In Today’s Workforce
What company are you working for now and what types of products and services do they provide to their customers?
I work for PureAir based in Greenwood, Mississippi. I work out of my home office in Fairhope, Alabama. We offer air filtration solutions, distribute industrial filtration products, and many preventative maintenance services.
What job did you first have with the company when you started, what position do you have now, and/or what else have you done since joining the company?
I have been with this company for less than a year. I am a Regional Sales Manager. I not only sell the products, but market them to my customers as well. I have been in the filtration industry for five years now, working for a manufacturer, Quality Filters, Inc., prior to joining PureAir.
At Quality Filters, I began learning the industry as a graphic designer. I progressed to Brand Manager of the Lysol Air Filter. I worked closely with The Licensing Company out of New York City to increase sales and market share of the Lysol Air Filter. I was promoted to the Vice President of Retail Sales to continue the growth of the retail line of air filters. During my tenure at Quality Filters, I learned the commercial and retail side of the filtration business.
In March of 2016, I resigned my position at Quality Filters and accepted a position at PureAir as a Regional Sales Manager. This position was a great career move for me and allows me to spend more time with my family. At PureAir, I sell industrial filtration solutions in my region. I also contribute to the marketing of the organization by designing brochures that aid the selling process.
What do you think employers are looking for in today’s workforce and the current industry environment?
Employers are looking for people that are dedicated and willing to learn. In my experience of managing people and designers, I look for confident designers that can take constructive criticism and turn those suggestions into successes.
Is there anything that you have found to be particularly different from what you initially expected, now that you’ve progressed through your work career for a period of time?
I did not expect to be primarily in a sales role. However, throughout my marketing experience, I realized that sales and marketing go hand in hand. Marketing allows one to immerse themselves into the product and industry. Through my marketing experience in the filtration industry, I learned how to sell product through knowledge. Knowledge is power.
Have you changed your plans or ideas about what area or type of job you might like to have since you first considered the graphic communications field and began studying for a career in it?
Even though I am not primarily a graphic designer, I still use the principals of graphic design in my daily business life. Marketing is an integral part of sales. The two go hand in hand.
What do you see yourself doing a few years from now?
I very much enjoy the filtration industry. PureAir is a very large company with endless possibilities. I envision myself managing a sales and marketing role.
Was being a recipient of a PGSF scholarship important, or did it have an impact on your future or ability to succeed in the industry?
As a recipient of this scholarship, I was able to get a great education at the University of Mobile, where I majored in Business with a concentration in Web Design. I went on to graduate with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Mobile.< Back