December 2018 YP of the Month: Mercedes Tucker
First and Last Name: Mercedes Tucker
Hometown: Illiopolis, IL
Educational Background: Bachelor of Arts in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations from Millikin University in Decatur, IL.
Describe Yourself in Three Words: Endearing – Rational – Optimist
Place of Employment and Position: Digital Marketing Coordinator at C.D. Smith Construction (as of Dec. 3, 2018)
Manager of Employee Communications and Training at Briess Malt & Ingredients (at the time of this interview).
What do you enjoy the most about your recent professional experiences?
I am at a very exciting time in my career. For the last three and a half years I have been at Briess Malt & Ingredients Co. in Chilton, Wis. During my time, I have had the fortunate opportunity to aid in driving strategic, meaningful change within the organization.
This came about in October 2017 when I took a chance to ask the company President and COO of Briess to breakfast to present some ideas I felt would make a positive impact on the company. I can tell you, this was out of my comfort zone and I was terrified of the thought of my ideas getting rejected. But I also felt like it was something I had to do, so I mustered the courage to pitch my ideas.
To my surprise and delight, he was very receptive and encourage me to “think big” like an entrepreneur within Briess. Since then, I have played an active part in building an internal communications and training program and participated in core planning group initiatives.
While exciting things were happening for me at Briess, it was time to take another chance and start the next chapter of my career. On December 3, I will be joining C.D. Smith Construction, Inc. here in Fond du Lac. I am very excited about this opportunity, as it makes a lot of personal sense. C.D. Smith has been a strong member of the Fond du Lac community since 1936. I am excited to be a part of their growing family. I am also looking forward to now both living and working in the Fond du Lac community and hope to play a more active role within Fond du Lac.
What is the one thing you would do if you knew you could not fail?
Andrew, my husband, and I dream of starting a video production company called BIG FEAT Videos. We enjoy creating short films together and would love to build a network of video professionals and actors that come together to make engaging, fun, entertaining short films. I also aspire to one day start a “Fond du Lac Short Film Festival” – so if there’s anyone out there interested in networking, please reach out 😊.
How has YPF contributed to your personal and/or professional development?
YPF has been extremely rewarding. When I first moved to Fond du Lac in March 2016, YPF gave me the opportunity to meet other like-minded, aspiring young professionals while building a network of resources I could call upon. It also has given me an outlet to test new ideas within the community. Earlier in this year, as a member of YP Week, I developed and lead the “Quit Wine’ing, Were Talking Beer and Cheese” sensory event hosted at Urban Fuel Coffeehouse.
Who or what is your source of professional inspiration?
I really have to say my mom on this one. She is the hardest working person I know. She has always been active in a professional organization such as Kiwanis, United Way, and Rotary, to name a few. She is well spoken, stands up for what she believes in, and when there is a job to be done, she gets it done. I’ve grown to admire her strength even more over the last 5 years. In 2013, my father was diagnosed with Leukemia. She became his primary caretaker while working full-time and maintaining their 120-acre horse farm in Central Illinois. When my father lost his battle in 2015, my mother has remained a constant beacon of strength and faith. She has continued to be dedicated to her job, the farm, and her family and has shown remarkable resilience despite unimaginable hardship. I honestly don’t know where she finds her drive, but it inspires me every day.
What are some of the professional and volunteer groups you participate in?
Through YPF, I have been a committee member on Breakfast with Champions and YP Week. I am also a member of FDL Marketing Professionals and for the last two years sat on the Board of Directors for Free S.P.I.R.I.T. Riders, Inc.
In keeping with YPF’s theme for this year “Take A Chance”, how have you taken a chance in 2018?
2018 has been a busy year, to say the least. Most notably, I married my best friend on July 14. Together, we have been on a journey to become debt free and minimizing our lifestyle to the essentials. We have been clawing our way out of six-figures of combined student loan debt and the light at the end is near. We have sacrificed social outings, vacations, and picked up second jobs so that we can one day be financially free. Professionally, I have pushed boundaries on driving change and now am opening the door to a new opportunity at C.D. Smith Construction.
What is your favorite thing to do in the Fond du Lac area?
I love to hang out at Urban Fuel Coffeehouse, it is a great place to work, relax, and connect with others. I also enjoy taking advantage of cycling on The Loop or hopping in on a dance class with Julie at Shut Up & Dance.
Where do you see the Fond du Lac area in 5 years?
I really believe Fond du Lac could be a hub for entrepreneurs. I would love to see more marketing efforts in big cities or other states promoting Fond du Lac as an entrepreneur-friendly city and place for young professionals to come and build their startups. I believe the growth of small businesses can drive change within our community. We have a lot of great things going for us, YPF being one of them. We have an ideal location between Milwaukee, Madison, and Appleton are at the foot of a lake. Our community’s growing professional development programs and a thriving culture of arts and theater makes us a perfect place to entice aspiring young entrepreneurs.
What words of wisdom do you have for other young professionals working in Fond du Lac?
It’s all too easy to get content with where you are in life. Don’t be afraid to take chances and don’t be afraid of rejection. My personal motto is, “Big feats begin with little steps”. Think about a glacier. When you stand next to it, it doesn’t appear to be moving. But, in fact, it is inching along one little step a time. It’s that positive, forward movement that carves a landscape. It’s not always about climbing a mountain, rather it’s about making positive choices every day to scape your life, your community, and the organizations you work for.