Jessica Everill has always followed the lead of her eternally curious mind. It’s a journey that has led her from retail customer retention specialist to Viasat UK’s operations director.
Her multi-faceted job includes planning and strategizing for the future, monitoring and improving business operations processes, ensuring compliance to government, legislative and industry standards, and staff development – all for a company expanding globally. It’s complex work that Everill loves, but that she never imagined early in her career.
Everill didn’t complete college, leaving behind her pursuit of a marine biology degree to accept a lucrative position with a large retail chain. She was paying her way through school, and the offer of a fulltime position and an accelerated career path was difficult to turn down.
“Whether I would make the same decision or not, I don’t know,” she said. “I certainly wouldn’t encourage anybody to step away from their degree. It’s always something I wanted to go back to.
“But my advice would be that you should go for and try things, even if on paper you might not think you check all the boxes. Be inquisitive about the world, and don’t put limits on yourself.”
Perhaps no one is a better example of the power of inquisitiveness than Everill, as her questioning nature has led her steadily up an unexpected career ladder.
Rung by rung
The Staffordshire, UK native first worked for Debenhams department store in customer attraction and retention. Everill found fascinating the study of customer behavior, buying obstacles and understanding what would inspire them to change that behavior.
After marrying her husband, Steven, and having a child, the young family moved from the more urban Midlands to coastal Dorset.
Everill found a job there with an electronics manufacturer, also seeking help with customer retention. While she had no background in electronics, Everill’s record in successfully attracting and keeping customers was exactly what CSM Electronics wanted.
But Everill wasn’t satisfied with doing a surface job.
“I told them it would be really difficult for me to improve customer satisfaction if I didn’t understand the business,” she said. “So I started working first on the manufacturing lines, learning how to solder, the chemical composition of the soldering process, what electronics components did, and then the analysis and production methodologies. I was just absorbing it all.”
The extra effort paid off, both for Everill and CSM.
“I saw that when problems arose during manufacturing or in the supply chain – which were fairly standard in the industry – the communication back to the customer wasn’t clear or timely,” she said. “By understanding the root cause and adding that clarity for the customer, we increased sales and customer retention.”
In her six years with CSM, she moved from a part-time customer service employee to the operations manager of multiple sites.
“It was the right company for me,” she said. “Because the managing director could see my potential as well as my experience, he was willing to invest in me.”
In 2008, her work caught the eye of another company in the same neighborhood – the Stonewood Group, a company Viasat acquired in 2010. Stonewood designed and manufactured encryption products and services, including aerospace components and security-related electronic assemblies.
Everill took the same approach at Stonewood as she had at CSM, learning all she could about the company. In her first two years, she cut production costs by 35%. After Viasat acquired Stonewood, Everill recommended the UK site outsource its manufacturing rather than replace outdated equipment — decreasing the company’s need for both manufacturing space and a large capital investment.
Because the UK office works closely with the government, it also required careful navigation.
“It was a complex process due to the sensitivity of our work,” she said. “Dealing directly with the government to idenitify and mitigate against any risks was a challenge, and at the time Viasat UK was leading the way for the rest of the industry.
“But I found that overcoming those obstacles – while maintaining the agility needed in the process – was just really interesting to me.”
That work added to Everill’s knowledge and interest in security, compliance and other aspects of company operations.
Living Viasat’s values
Everill has repeatedly found a way to both comply and accomplish the company’s goals. During the pandemic, she worked within COVID requirements to keep the UK office open.
She credits her career and knowledge growth to co-workers, mentors and her lifelong interest in science.
“A background in science sets you up for whatever you want to do,” she said. “The method of investigation it requires helps tremendously, especially if you’re looking for a career in management.
“It also helps to be very inquisitive in nature. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gained an advantage in my career because I asked why. One of Viasat’s key tenets is there’s always a better way, and that’s also what I believe.”
Everill said she looks forward to helping the company as it expands globally.
“I’d like the opportunity to create some European alignment,” she said. “I completely buy into Viasat’s values. But as it grows, it’s important to retain our culture and ethos, which is what sets us apart from other companies.”
She added that she’s looking forward to Viasat’s upcoming global coverage with the upcoming ViaSat-3 constellation and future satellites.
“ViaSat-3 starts really linking our offices around the world all together. There will be countless opportunities for improvements across the organization, and I’m already thinking about that. I also want to continue my growth in leadership, supporting and mentoring others to realize their potential.”
Married with two adult daughters, Everill likes to garden, including harvesting and preserving produce. She recently completed a course in massage and also practices yoga.