Vanessa Skrumbis: what it means to be a Trailblazer

Nicole Arca
In this week's spotlight, Vanessa Skrumbis (SC '11), a graduate of Georgetown University now working in digital marketing, talks with us about her work in the Big Apple and what being a Trailblazer means to her.

Vanessa Skrumbis is no stranger to the Sierra Canyon Trailblazer life - not only because her father is Jim Skrumbis (SC's Head of School), but because she is constantly creating and travelling down roads not taken. From her decision to take on New York City after college to her job in the everchanging digital marketing industry, Vanessa has some pretty valuable wisdom to impart about what it means to be a Trailblazer.

First off, tell us a bit about what you do now and how you got there!

I’m currently working at iCrossing, a digital marketing agency in New York City. Working on the account team for CPG brands, my role is to handle day-to-day relationships and the overall management of our clients, while serving as the middle-man between our internal teams and other partners. I absolutely love what I do.

Digital marketing is such an exciting industry because it is constantly changing. In today’s digital world, there are no limits to what a brand can accomplish. At iCrossing, our job is to combine the creative and the analytical.  We tell compelling and exciting stories through the latest technology, driven by data that allows us to speak to exactly the right consumer. At least that’s what we’re doing this week, who knows what will happen next week!

While I love what I do, I can’t say that it’s something that I’ve been chasing since I was a little girl. I graduated from Georgetown in 2015 with degrees in Art History and English Literature and no clear or direct path into the business world. To supplement my majors with practical business experience, I was fortunate during and after college to have internships and positions focused on branding and marketing in PR and media. At first I expected my clients to guide my inspiration, but during my time at iCrossing, I’ve discovered that what is most inspiring is the potential that the digital world holds.

What specific experiences at SC prepared you the most for your profession, and for life in general?

It’s not so much that Sierra Canyon prepared me for my profession, but rather any profession. By focusing on teaching its students to think analytically and develop sophisticated writing skills, SC prepares students for what all colleges, professors, and employers are looking for - curious and analytical thinkers with strong communication skills.  
There are quite a lot of Trailblazers in the New York area! Why do you think so many SC alums head to the East Coast for college or work?

We’re trailblazers! New York City is the most exciting, vibrant city in the world, and it makes sense that a lot of SC alumni are drawn to it, just as I was.  In so many different ways, Sierra Canyon pushes its students to step out of their comfort zone and take risks. Programs like Peak Week and the College Tour allow students to really get a taste of what else is out there. From there, New York City is hard to resist. The Valley is a small place, but I’ve quickly realized that so is the rest of the world.

What does being a Sierra Canyon Trailblazer mean to you?

Being a Trailblazer means having the confidence to take risks. The confidence to go to school on the east coast or to take a job in a new city. The confidence to stand up for what you believe and ask the questions that no one else is asking.

That being said, taking risks is a lot easier when you know there are people standing behind you, excited to watch you succeed. It’s hard to be a “Trailblazer” without that kind of support. So I guess being a Trailblazer means believing in yourself, but also believing and supporting those around you.

Being a part of a community that not only supports and nurtures you, but also pushes you to succeed and challenge yourself, is a unique experience that stays with you forever. That’s why I’m so grateful to be a Sierra Canyon Trailblazer.
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.