top of page

Meet Shannon Hemmer UC Alumna and Director of Project Management at Walker Sands

Shannon Hemmer graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2015 (BA) and 2016 (MA in Communication). Since then, she’s taken on many roles, including her current role as the Director of Project Management at Walker Sands.

Where it all Began

During her graduate program, Shannon was a writer for the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS), a part-time marketing manager at a local B2B tech startup, and a graduate assistant. These roles provided her with valuable real-world experiences that helped ground the organizational and change communication theories she studied in her master’s program. She told us, “It can be hard to grasp the communication theories without attaching them to real-world experiences, so being able to make that connection was helpful for my goals.”

Looking Back: A Love for UC

Some of the highlights from her time at UC include meeting her husband, Tommy, taking advantage of the 4+1 master’s communication program, and working with Hannah Ko, President of Friends of Communication, during her graduate assistantship. An undergrad course that she recommends to all students is Rhetorical Theory and a course she wishes she took was project management and other accounting-related classes that would apply to her current role. To add to her accomplishments, Shannon also minored in French and obtained a certificate in Public Relations and Business French. She even had the opportunity to study abroad in France and Germany.

So what’s Shannon been up to since 2015? Let’s check in!

After two years of leading the marketing department at the tech startup in Cincinnati, she was ready to make a career shift into project management, and what a career it’s been! Since 2018, Shannon has held many roles at Walker Sands, a Chicago-based B2B marketing agency, including digital project manager, senior project manager, associate director, and now, director. So, what does a director of project management do? Shannon notes that while no two days are the same, some common threads include developing project timelines for cross-functional teams, identifying and mitigating potential risks, and ensuring each program stays within clients’ budgets. Within the project management team and wider client services department, she develops best practices and improves processes to ensure efficiency and the right people are leveraged for each project based on their skill set.

“The success I’ve found with project management has also helped me in my personal life. This is just one of the many reasons I love my career.”

Staying Engaged at Work

Shannon notes that she loves how challenging her role is and that her daily responsibilities vary. Another perk is how driven her coworkers are because it creates a strong team dynamic that allows her to achieve more. She said, “As a director, it’s been rewarding to pass knowledge on to other project managers.” because she loves to help her team grow. The strong team mentality is shown through their company culture and core values of “learn, support, do.” Her favorite project that she worked on so far was for a global retail tech brand that wanted to improve its brand awareness. The video-centric marketing campaign featured Will Arnett and was distributed on a global scale through organic social and paid digital ads, out-of-home (OOH) placements including airports, billboards, and digital publications including Ad Age.

What’s on the Horizon?

Shannon hopes to obtain her Project Management Professional Certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI) within the next year. A piece of advice she shared with fellow alumni in terms of growing professionally was, “Take advantage of your company’s professional development opportunities to continue learning through programs that strengthen both you and your organization. Getting those extra certifications and taking new classes will always pay off.”

Advice for Students

Shannon recommends embracing remote work culture and taking advantage of your network while continuing to make new connections “By staying in contact with them as much as you can; you never know when you need their help or when you can help them.” Both of these factors help expand job searches tremendously for young professionals entering the workforce. She also suggests looking into jobs that don’t necessarily have “communication” in the job title as various skills related to communication roles can transfer to other positions, such as project management.

So what do I need to do if I want to shift my career?

Communication is a key component of project management. Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture may open eyes to the similarities such as building timelines, managing budgets, and strong organization habits. She shared, “It’s interesting to see how project management has spilled into my personal life, from moving across the country to planning a wedding.” Two pieces of advice she would give her younger self are, “stop worrying about the future and enjoy the present” and “not everything needs to be done to perfection.” She has learned over the years to apply this advice to both her personal and professional worlds. It is always a great reminder for everyone to not be so hard on themselves and enjoy where they are and how far they’ve come.


bottom of page