C-Suite Meet with Jennifer Wong President, Digital and COO, Time Inc.
By She Runs It
Moderator: Alice Kim, Unilever
Alice introduced Jennifer as someone who’s “brilliantly managed her career”. While Jennifer isn’t a Millennial, she’s known as a Digital Native. She’s passionate about Media and is intellectually curious.
Jennifer gave an overview of her career starting with her passion for music which led to a career in quantitative finance, an MBA, and a stint at McKinsey. It took a while for Jennifer to combine her passions for all things media and digital but doing so landed her at AOL, Popsugar, and now, Time. This circuitous path taught Jennifer some lessons – an undergraduate degree in Math and Applied Sciences gave her the confidence in problem solving she’s used throughout her career.
Her career has taken her to both small and large organizations which require different skills sets. Large companies have more complexity and skills are needed to operate at scale. Smaller organizations are more fluid – you’re on the front line and are required to become a Subject Matter Expert – in the tech industry you shouldn’t be scared to stay close to the product. Jennifer leveraged what she learned in small companies by bringing that knowledge to larger organizations which allowed her to move faster. Going back and forth between smaller and larger organizations allows you to hone different skill sets, to keep fresh, and current.
Here are excerpts from questions posed by Alice and the audience:
How did you stay at the front of the pack?
Intuition. Aligning with the overall arch of consumer trends, and understanding new tech. Keeping track of companies with new products. I read a lot of tech blogs (Product Hunt, Hacker News) and follow tech leaders and big VCs on Twitter. I often reach out to companies to hear about their new products, which has led to a lot of successes.
How do you manage being on 24/7?
“I’m on 24/7”. Although it’s a personal decision and it’s not realistic for everyone.
Where’s the media landscape evolving?
Data is the next economic revolution – machine learning: optimizing your business, communications, products. This is an area Time is investing in – leveraging all the data collected building on 100 years of rich consumer relationships.
Thoughts on being an Asian woman – breaking the glass ceiling
While I’m cognizant of it, for me it’s more about the people. The Time C-Suite is diverse with a 50% men to women ratio.
- Find a sponsor/mentor to help you develop skills
- Be willing to take a step back and learn a new skill
- Sustainability throughout your career is achieved by always developing new skills
- When negotiating for a new roll, the finish line shouldn’t be closing the deal, it should be about what you want to get, in the long term, out of the relationship – skills, career trajectory
When I interview for a role, I go deep. Talk to people I’ll be working for, with, and if possible, meeting the people who would be reporting to me. The process could take 6 – 9 months but it increases the probability of success.
How companies live their values affect how companies work and hire.
The Product or Platform your most excited about?
House Party – group messaging with video.
How do you see AI being incorporated in Marketing and Advertising?
Massive implications from creative to targeting and analytics. AI is a game changer.
What have been your biggest career challenges?
- Leaving McKinsey, my next move was very important
- Substantial part of my current role is working with investors which is the toughest thing to deal with especially as a company in transition
How do you see agencies and companies intersecting?
Agencies, media companies, consumer companies are all coming together which may lead to vertical integration. Consulting firms are getting into the agency business. Ultimately everyone is trying to retain clients by growing infrastructure and extending relationships.
What are your long term career goals?
- Run something – CEO role
- Learn to code
- Spend time driving toward more diversity on boards
- Be on boards
I see myself as an “entrepreneurial scaler” – not a “founder” personality.