H-E-B | Import Development Manager | San Antonio
Jessamyn Allen has worked since November 2006 as an import development manager for H-E-B in San Antonio, Texas.
Before Allen’s transition to the grocery business, she spent several years as a U.S. diplomat,
performing the challenging task of resolving international issues before they could develop into international crises. During the course of her diplomatic career, she gained valuable insight into immigration, international trade, policy and crisis resolution, became fluent in Spanish and Italian, and rubbed shoulders with celebrities and world leaders.
Allen spent most of her time overseas, working in Bogotá, Colombia; and Rome, Italy; before returning to Washington, D.C. Throughout it all, she was involved in the negotiation, implementation and management of major immigration and trade initiatives.
From 2000 – 2002, Allen worked as a consular officer for the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá. She started off interviewing tourists, work and immigrant visa applicants and responding to congressional and legal inquiries before moving to the anti-fraud section as deputy chief, during which time she investigated fraudulent visa cases. Being in the front line of immigration affairs in Bogotá piqued her interest in the U.S. immigration debate, especially as policies tightened up after 9/11.
Allen also gained valuable experience in Rome, where she served as an international trade economist and transportation officer at the U.S. Embassy and played an active role in the U.S.-European Union Open Skies aviation dispute, ensuring the continuation of non-stop transatlantic flights between the U.S. and Italy. In 2004, Allen returned to Washington D.C. as an international trade negotiator, contributing to Iraq reconstruction efforts, World Trade Organization’s Doha round negotiations and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.
However, in 2006, Allen decided to leave the diplomatic life behind and return to her home in Texas. “Working as a diplomat involved constant change and the necessity of having to adapt to a new position every few months and to a new location, language, culture and environment every few years,” she explains. “I never felt the sense of having a home. So, I decided to look for a more stable job that was just as challenging and would best utilize my international trade and negotiating experience.”
At H-E-B headquarters in San Antonio, Allen specializes in procurement, scouring the globe for new products. She uses her knowledge of international trade and negotiating skills to maximize import opportunities. “At the end of the day,” Allen says, “my foremost goal is to provide innovative and high quality products to H-E-B customers at the lowest price.
Allen advises current and prospective economics students to have fun with economics and to look beyond, and not limit themselves to, a “traditional” business career. “Economics provides you with a solid business foundation, which if you look beyond the obvious, can be applied to every aspect of life. Economics is so much more than the stock market or investment banking. To borrow a cliché, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and live your dream.”