2017 Airport Business Top 40 Under 40: J’Aimeka “Jai” Ferrell

Nov. 3, 2017

J’Aimeka “Jai” Ferrell
Airport Director, Marketing & Creative Services
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Age: 34

  • Alma Mater(s): Spelman College, 2005, Bachelor of Arts in Theater Studies Georgia State University, 2009, Master of Arts in Communication concentrating in Moving Image Studies
  • Dream Job: Full-time: Airport General Manager, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Part-time: A fairy
  • Person that has impacted my career the most: My mother, Lolita Ferrell.
  • If I could visit any airport in the world: Changi Airport in Singapore
  • If I could have dinner with anyone living or dead: I would give anything to have dinner with my grandmother, Rosia B. Ferrell. She transitioned five years after I graduated from Spelman and didn’t witness many of my professional successes and accomplishments. I am certain that I have made her proud, but the joy of a conversation about it over dinner is a definitely a dream.

In her role as director of marketing and brand services, Jai Ferrell oversees marketing outreach, brand strategy efforts and creative services for Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest airport. She also leads a team that’s responsible for promoting the airport’s food, beverage and retail programs and parking services, all of which generated more than $1 billion in concessions revenue in 2016.

As director of the marketing division, Ferrell has successfully redesigned the airport’s website to ATL.com, launched the iFLYATL mobile app, launched the ATLNext branding campaign for Hartsfield-Jackson’s $6 billion capital improvement program and rebranded several public-facing services and products, particularly ATL Skypointe (food & beverage and retail concessions program); and ParkATL (on-airport parking services).

Under her leadership, Ferrell’s team successfully produced the Taste of Hartsfield-Jackson, a public event with live food demonstrations and tastings from the airport’s concessionaires and Global Runway ATL, a high-fashion event featuring specialty retail options at the airport. Both events gained national attention and praises throughout the industry.

Ferrell is technologically perceptive and uses innovation as a component to develop and support the world-class passenger services and experiences at Hartsfield-Jackson. She developed the ATL Thinks! program, an innovation initiative that engages with the technology, development and creative communities to implement solutions to challenges that passengers may face when traveling through the airport. In its second year, ATL Thinks! has provided solutions to address the airport’s challenge with the thousands of pounds of food waste, elevate passengers’ shopping experience with an online shopping solution and help in easing travel with an enhanced mobile app.

Thanks to her expertise and passion for innovation, Ferrell was invited to participate in Delta Air Lines’ first innovation summit, Delta IFX, where she served as the only female minority judge. In addition, as an aviation pro, she has participated in several marketing and aviation panels including the Georgia Marketing Summit and as a global keynote speaker at the Equip Global Aviation Summit in London.

Ferrell is an influencer and leader in her community. She is a graduate of the 2017 LEAD Atlanta class and is a community advocate for the English Avenue neighborhood, a low-income community located in the footprint of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. She is a mentor for the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Mentoring Monday Women’s Program, a participant in the ATL Aviation Partners in Education program serving as a Principal for a Day with airport-impacted schools and is a volunteer for Read Across America with Hamilton-Holmes Elementary School in Atlanta.

Oftentimes, Ferrell said she catches herself smiling silently because she gets to have fun at work everyday. “I am fortunate to have supportive leadership that believes in innovation and appreciates my strategic approach to marketing and brand strategy,” she said. “I am trusted to contribute in how we creatively engage with our stakeholders and develop consumer products, offerings and services that will improve the passenger experience at the airport.”

She works with what she calls an amazing team of marketing and creative prodigies. “When you are able to collaborate with amazing minds, it simplifies the work,” said Ferrell.

With her background in theater and film studies, making the transitioning from entertainment to aviation was a uniquely rewarding challenge, said Ferrell. “I was blessed to have over a decade of professional service with entertainment, sports television and global news brands, particularly CNN, Turner, Cartoon Network and the Atlanta Braves,” she said. “Aviation was completely new and triggered my academic instincts to learn as much as I could through digital platforms, personal introductions and trade publications.”

Ferrell continues to be “in awe” at the scale of impact Hartsfield-Jackson has on the local, domestic and global economy. “I do not take for granted that I work for the busiest airport in the world and my programs touch more than 100 million people each year,” she said. “One of the most unique aspects of marketing is the captive audience that dwells in our space in real time. For me the question is not finding `where’ they are, but `what’ they need and `who’ can provide those desires.”

Carla Harris of Morgan Stanley gave Ferrell a great piece of career advice during the 2016 Executive Women’s Day for the PGA Tour Championships in Atlanta. “`Expect to win when you bring your total self to the work,”’ she said. “Her pearl of wisdom confirmed for me that my total self, my creativity, my experiences, my failures, my playfulness and my personality would be how I would continue to move forward in my career.”