Jeanette is a Customer Success Manager at Pressly.
What is your morning routine?
I’m the queen of the snooze button. I set three alarms every morning and sleep through all of them. I’ve tried everything. Even a rule where I’m allowed to shorten my run if I work out in the morning, rather than waiting until after work, can’t get me out of bed. I’m terrible for wanting instant gratification. I would have failed the Marshmallow Test every time.
I get through mornings on caffeine wings. By 10 a.m. I’m on my third coffee of the day, on average.
Tell us about your career path.
My career path has admittedly been a weird road so far: I studied life sciences for two years before ultimately graduating with a degree in English literature. I also spent a semester in Shanghai studying Chinese history and global development. All four years of my undergrad, I volunteered 10 to 15 hours a week as an advanced medical first responder. I spent two summers launching a health education program and then two years at Jack.org.
Now I work in tech at Pressly, a SaaS (software as a service) platform based in Toronto that allows enterprise teams to share content from anywhere, to anywhere. My role is a mix of account management, project management, strategic consulting, and putting out fires as they happen. I’m a Venture for Canada Fellow, and I’m also co-founder and chair of Venture Out, which hosted Canada’s first conference for LGBTQ+ inclusion in tech and entrepreneurship.
I’m still making sense of how these puzzle pieces fit together (feel free give me a call if you can make sense of it), but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Everything I learned from those experiences makes me better at my job today.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
I love getting this question, because being a queer woman complicates my feelings. It’s not like I go to work as a woman on odd-numbered days of the month, and as a queer person on even-numbered days. Every day I go to work, I bring all of my experiences with me.
I feel very fortunate that at both Pressly and Jack.org I’ve been able to bring my whole self, including my perspectives as a gay woman, to the workplace. But I’m also aware that my experience is still an outlier, not the norm. There are still walls preventing underrepresented groups from succeeding in tech, and whether or not I ever need to climb them, it’s all of our responsibilities to help break them down.
The short list? Women in tech are paid less. We’re hired less. We’re promoted less. Many tech companies pride themselves on being ruthless meritocracies, ignoring the reality that the playing field is not and has never been level for women, LGBT folks, and people of color.
As an industry, we’ve got to do better.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
Cold email people you admire, and ask if you can take them for coffee – preferably as many people as you can reach. Find out what a day in someone else’s life looks like, and ask yourself, “Does that sound like something I could get myself out of bed for every day?”
It took me a long time to realize that emerging technology was the space where I wanted to be. I used to want to be a doctor and work for Médicines Sans Frontièrs. I liked the idea of being a doctor, but hadn’t given much thought to what I wanted my day-to-day to look like.
It wasn’t until I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be, and started thinking about what I wanted to do, that I started feeling fulfilled in my career. Taking some strangers for coffee and learning about the ups and downs of their roles would’ve gotten me there faster, and saved me a great deal of soul-searching.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
To be honest, I don’t. And right now, I’m less interested in separating my work and personal lives as I am in striking a balance between the two. Plus, what counts as “work” and “personal” for me is blurred – my commitments with Venture Out and Venture for Canada aren’t my core jobs, but they’re no Netflix Sunday either.
Furthermore, the most important things in both my life and my work are global: my clients and my family are both spread across multiple time zones, so running my days by the clock would mean both of these would suffer. I often finish up work in the evenings on my couch, but on the flip side, I’ll happily take a quick break in the afternoon to fire off a few texts with my brother in Scotland before he goes to bed.
What inspires you?
I tend to find inspiration in unusual places, so when I get really stuck, I try to switch gears: go for a run, watch a TV show, or talk to someone I don’t normally cross paths with. Generally, I get hit head-on by an idea or a solution right at the moment I’ve given up on finding it. Recently, I’ve been trying to get myself to walk away when I hit those walls. It’s healthier than banging my head against a keyboard.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
Nothing helps me unwind better than curling up with a book and a coffee and forgetting to look up until I’ve turned the final page. I guess you can take the girl out of the English degree, but you’ll never take the English degree out of the girl.