Janine is currently VP of Strategy and Transformation at Gartner where she develops, leads, and executes global and North American transformation initiatives focused on operational improvements and sales enablement. Janine is also co-President of Gartner’s newly launched global Black Employee Network.
Janine is a transformational leader with a track record of driving global growth in large Services/Tech/Financial Services and SaaS businesses. Janine combines strong people skills, strategy and business operations, with community engagement expertise to drive profitable growth and change. She also serves on multiple non-profit boards.
Finish this sentence: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for ________________.
Education is in my immigrant family’s genetic code. My grandparents immigrated here from Antigua and Barbados with very little money. They worked hard in physically demanding jobs under challenging conditions as porters and cleaning women. Because of this, they emphasized the importance of education as a pathway to better opportunities. As a result, all of their children went to college. Moreover, despite coming up during a time where they weren’t always valued and treated with respect, they held us to a particular standard: treat all others with dignity and respect.
Resumes highlight professional and educational achievements. Which one of your life or personal experiences deserves to be on your resume?
It is important for young women of color to have a voice in engineering and STEM. But first, they have to get there. There are not enough ‘there’ … but I’m trying to change that. With a degree in engineering and the ambition to change the field, I currently mentor several young Black women in high school and college. I help girls in high school navigate the opaque world of college admissions, figuring out which schools to apply to and which engineering major might be best for them. Once in college, I help them select the right classes and figure out their career and life choices. We need more Black women’s voices in engineering and STEM, but we have to get ‘there’ first. I’m trying to do my part to help increase their representation.
What qualities do you look for when hiring someone on your team? What qualities do you avoid?
When it comes to hiring, I need a person who has a mix of street smarts and book smarts. In terms of book smarts, it’s simple: you have to know your stuff. Street smarts is not as simple, but I define it as someone who has a high level of emotional intelligence. Someone with street smarts has a good eye for people and realizes that, all told, we are both incredibly similar and remarkably different. Either way, we have to be able to bridge differences and sit shoulder-to-shoulder to get work done. What qualities do I avoid? That’s an easy one. When it comes to hiring … no jerks!
“It is important for young women of color to have a voice in engineering and STEM. But first, they have to get there.”
What’s one piece of career advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
If I could sit down with my younger self for dinner, I would first off make certain it was a five-course affair. We’d need a bit of time! I’ve learned that taking the long view of life is important. We don’t have to be perfect in every moment of life; rather, when we tabulate our actions over time, we just want the good to outweigh any mistakes we’ve made. That is not to say that we cannot judge ourselves for any mistakes. We have to judge, learn, improve and keep moving forward.
As a self-described perfectionist, it took me years to realize that the long view gives us a chance to appreciate that life is not about perfection, but about continual improvement.
Which three books, podcasts, or news sources do you think everyone should read? Why?
I think that everyone has a civic responsibility to keep up with the day’s news. It impacts all of our lives and we need to stay actively engaged.
Beyond that, there are three sources I think everyone should check out. Trying to learn something new every day, I find that a good resource is Clubhouse. It’s a social media platform that connects people who converse with each other on various topics. Recently, I was in a Clubhouse room with the founders of Netflix. They spent time discussing how they brainstormed to develop their business idea, which ultimately turned into Netflix. On another day, I participated in a room hosted by Venture Capitalists for NFTs and Snoop Dogg. The topic was on how to monetize music so that artists maintain ownership of their work.
My second recommendation is to read books that help you to live your life and prioritize your day in a way that aligns with your values. One of my favorite books is “The Not Doing List”. It helps you realize that part of knowing what to do is knowing what not to do.
My third recommendation is a really interesting free online class hosted by Yale, entitled ‘The Science of Well Being”. I’m fascinated by the notion that there are science-backed ways to drive happiness.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is front and center right now. How do you express your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in your personal and professional life?
At Gartner, I’m the co-President of the Global Black Employee Network, a new Employee Resource Group that was launched on May 25, on the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd. Open to all associates, the recently formed group is dedicated to attracting, retaining, and advancing Black associates, while also focusing on cultivating a culture of inclusion to help position Gartner as an employer of choice for Black talent. This is a volunteer position outside of my formal job role, but well worth it.
Outside of work, I’m on the board of Lifting Up Westchester, a non-profit that focuses on housing and food insecurity; food insecurity is at an all-time high and has a disproportionate impact on people of color. I want to do anything in my power to change that. On a personal level, I simply look to, as my parents and grandparents taught, meet all comers with an outstretched hand and respect. If everyone did this, our world would be a better place.
What’s one tangible step every employer should take to help build a more representative organization?
Particularly over the last year, we’re seeing corporations starting and/or improving their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts. These programs are good, but employers need to make sure that these programs have teeth. At all levels of the organizations, actions need to support the efforts to drive change.