ROI’s Meet the Team Series is meant to showcase some of our exceptional team members and share in their passion for all things economic development. We also have a little bit of fun to help you get to know the ROI Team more personally. 

Meet Dr. Nadine Jeserich, ROI’s VP of Analytics. Nadine has traveled the globe working in regional economic development and has a wealth of expertise on the subject. Join us as we discuss Nadine’s candid opinions on economic development and her advice for EDOs on how to navigate 2021 and beyond in our latest edition of our Meet the Team Series.  

What is your role here at ROI? 

In a nutshell, when I came to ROI back in 2015, there was a lot of need for high-level academic research support. Clients wanted to bring in expertise to advise them on what industries to target and their best value proposition.  

So, in my role as Vice President, Analytics, I help economic development organizations (EDOs) identify which piece of the cake they can slice off for themselves.  

I also lead the data strategy for ROI’s sister company, Gazelle.ai. In that role I determine what kind of data enters the platform, what that data means, and most importantly, how to make it meaningful to the end users on the Gazelle.ai platform.  

Can you tell us a little more about yourself and how you discovered the world of economic development? 

Like my father and grandfather, I have a doctorate in economics. My grandfather even worked a little bit in public administration and regional development so there are threads of economic development that run through my family.

But truth be told—I really wanted to study aerospace engineering. But that felt like a bit of a stretch, so I started with what I knew from my family, and that was economics and economic development.

I was just lucky to meet the right people in the field that led me into the economic development world.

After my PhD I went to work at a think tank in Indiana. After that I traveled around the world working in regional economic development, but always from the data and research side of things.  

When Steve put together the idea of Gazelle, he knew he needed a person who understood a specific type of datasets. I was living in the UK at the time, and he was attending a conference in the South of France, so he reached out to me over LinkedIn. I flew down to meet him and the rest is history.  

What trends are you seeing in the world of economic development?  

For good or bad, people understand the need for data. Economic developers have always used datasets, but they used to be pretty stale. Everybody knew it but they didn’t know what to do about it. And then suddenly everyone was talking about big data and people were kind of pushed into that without really understanding what that meant.  

So, to answer your question, I would say the biggest trend I’m seeing in the world of economic development is that EDOs are finally at a point where they not only have the data, but now they know how to use it in a meaningful way.  

What are clients looking for? 

I would say that EDOs are primarily seeking guidance. For regions that came out of 2020 relatively unscathed, they tend to be less experimental. But for those regions that have faced hard times as a result of the pandemic, some are becoming more experimental.

It’s a natural inclination for EDOS to want to mix things up if their local industries are hurting—but my advice is to always stick to the basics. 2021 is not the year to suddenly start in a new industry you’ve never done before. 

If you want to experiment, have a vision for the next 5 to 10 years. But for now—stick to what you’re good at. 

What aspect of working for ROI do you enjoy the most? 

There is no cookie cutter approach. We are always faced with different clients and different challenges. Every client needs something slightly different, even if they don’t know what they want and need.  

That’s always the interesting part. Talking to EDOs and exploring what they want. We aren’t here to crank out some standard consultant report. I don’t like to waste my time on a report like that. I want to feel that I did something productive.  

Working at ROI gives me that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day and that’s what I like most about working here.  

What does economic development mean to you? 

Economic development to me means having a group of people come together to use the resources they have to move a community forward.  

You can have a rich city, that throws money around, but nothing gets done. That’s because they aren’t working together as a team. 

They don’t have a driver or champion of their community who leads them and brings them forward to make the best of what they have.  

If there was one thing you wish everyone knew about economic development, what would it be? 

All the parts of the economy have to work together. The workforce people have to talk to industry people, and they all have to talk to the education folks. The old silos are still kind of there, they still need to be linked more.  

For example, I’ve seen cases where a region has a business attraction office and a trade office, but they hardly ever talk to each other despite being completely connected.  

I think people underestimate the needed synergy of the economic development world. It’s like an ecosystem where all the parts must work together for it to function properly.  

Do you have an inspirational quote you enjoy? 

Inspire yourself! Don’t rely on others to inspire you. 

Favorite song to sing in the shower?  

Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All

If you had a time machine, would you travel to the future or back to the past?  

Forward. 

What animal do you identify with the most and why?   

I like Owls. They are quiet and observant. They can also hunt and they are active when everyone is still asleep.  

Cats or dogs?   

Dogs 

Favorite ice cream flavor? 

Pistachio