This week for Feature Friday AYTM selected to feature Stacey Penczak our Project Manager. Stacey is another AYTM New Jerseyite who enjoys taking long nature walks and doing yoga before starting her work day. An animal lover, winter sports enthusiast and a born researcher – Stacey has just celebrated her 1 year anniversary here at AYTM. Silly, resourceful, methodical are just a few of the many words Stacey would use to describe herself. Learn more about Stacey below.
Where are you from?
I was born in the very urban city of Bayonne NJ, but moved to a very rural small town in Northwestern NJ. Since then, I’ve moved around to NY, other parts of NJ, and PA for school and work. After several years, I wound up back in NW NJ living across the street from a beautiful river with my loving and handsome boyfriend and my two cats.
Where did you attend school?
I studied Sport Management for 3 years at SUNY Cortland in NY state and transferred to Rider University in Lawrenceville NJ for my last two years of school; yes I was a super senior! I changed my major three times while also adding and dropping a minor. It wasn’t until I discovered marketing and market research/consumer behavior that I knew I had found the right focus for me. Since then, I’ve also taken courses in market research with the Burke Institute and University of Georgia for certificate programs.
What are you passionate about?
Reading! Specifically historical fiction or fantasy fiction; I love to escape into other worlds I wouldn’t otherwise get to experience, and there’s something so classic and fulfilling about consuming a story by reading the words vs. watching someone else’s depiction in a movie or TV show. I tend to read a lot about the Elizabethan era and Mary Queen of Scots. I love books that take historical characters like Mary, Shakespeare, or Elizabeth and weave fictional characters into their lives, especially when the author utilizes an atypical portrayal of a well-known historical figure. I’ve read a lot of books with Mary in them, and she’s usually beautiful and her charms are irresistible to both men and women, and she’s full of energy and dresses up like a boy, etc. That being said, I really recommend “The Flower Reader” by Elizabeth Loupas. It’s excellent. I really appreciate the contrast of the supposedly dazzling and glittering court life against country life. You see Mary as a tough-as-nails monarch (at times) – not just a girl ruled by more powerful Scotsmen. I enjoy how authors creatively intertwine people and places. And I only read physical books – I actually just ordered a new bookcase because we’re already maxed out with our existing storage! I also am passionate about yoga and working out. They help me slow down to focus on how my muscles and joints move together; working out allows me to get in tune with my body, shutting out external noise and influences. I’m always looking for new workout videos that challenge me or allow me to try something new, like barre!
Favorite past time?
Being in the kitchen – whether it’s baking up healthy banana bread by following a recipe or tweaking a recipe to make it my own (like my coconut sugar cookies) – I love the art and the science of cooking. Baking (cookies, breads, and pies) is my first favorite, but I also enjoy using the slow cooker and noticing how the aromas progressively get stronger and infiltrate the house. I love coming up with weekly meal plans and writing them out on a chalkboard hanging in the kitchen. It’s fun to design the menu based on either ingredients we need to use up or have hanging around in the freezer, or a new recipe I found that I really want to try for the first time. Cooking makes me feel good inside and out, and I enjoy working with my hands and seeing the physical creation after all is said and done. Plus I get to eat it!
What is a special skill or interesting fact about you?
I’ve always enjoyed painting, even though I’m not particularly skilled at drawing. Up to about a year ago, I had usually used acrylics, but I really wanted something more tactile. So I had this idea, why not finger paint with oil paints? I researched the idea and found this artist Iris Scott who had a tutorial for a coy fish pond painting – I was hooked. It’s so neat to see how each stroke in the paint was made by my fingertip, not a brush or other tool. When I tell people about it or show them pictures of my paintings, I get positive feedback, and I think a lot of it stems from the fact that oil finger painting is not very common! It’s a lot quicker than using acrylics, but it’s also kind of hard because you have to be careful not to over blend the paints or you get a muddy mess! I like that challenge because it forces me to keep things simple.
What do you like about working for AYTM?
I love working with such intelligent and passionate people who really care about the work they do and the clients we work with. It’s also refreshing being able to work from home after being in corporate environments for the beginning of my career. Work/life balance is so key these days, and technology really enables us to interact pretty flawlessly. We can accomplish so much without needing to commute or travel in any way. I also love my job itself. Project Management fits like a glove for me – it’s client focused, it’s process/workflow focused and attention to detail is key. Having a background in corporate research, it’s interesting to now play a major role behind the scenes in the fielding and QA of online surveys. I joke that it’s like learning a new language, but it’s a language I’m excited to become even more fluent in.