Jennifer Juo is currently Senior Director of Content Marketing at Hinge Health, a digital health startup in San Francisco, where she manages content marketing, events, and PR. Previously, Jennifer led the B2B content marketing function at Udemy and created B2B content for Microsoft. In her former life in policy communications, Jennifer was a Communications Manager at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a multilateral trade organization headquartered in Singapore. In her free time, Jennifer is a global travel junkie, wannabe dancer, and bookworm.
Finish this sentence: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for ________________.
Every single manager I’ve ever had. For example, in my last job at Udemy, my manager (the VP of Marketing who hired me) took a chance on me, and then provided me both positive recognition and constructive feedback to help me grow and excel in my role. In my current role, the VP of Marketing at Hinge Health is also both my mentor and cheerleader, promoting me in under a year at the company and championing my development. Every month, we have a scheduled “growth discussion” where we chat about how I want to develop my skills and we put together a growth development plan for me. Incidentally, both these managers are Asian-American women and they have been great champions of my career. Without the combination of positive recognition and constructive feedback from my managers along the way, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Resumes highlight professional and educational achievements. Which one of your life or personal experiences deserves to be on your resume?
This is a great question. For me, I think my international childhood experience as an “expat kid” or “third culture kid” has helped me navigate the workplace in two important ways. First, I moved around a lot as a child and had to adapt quickly to different countries, schools, and cultures. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this ability to adapt to change, pivot quickly, and be flexible has helped me thrive in the fast-paced tech startup world of San Francisco.
Second, being Chinese originally, I grew up as a child in Nigeria, West Africa in an international expat compound with kids from all over the world. Living, studying, and working with a diverse group of people from different cultures, ethnicities, and races is the norm for me. It’s instinctive for me to want to reach out to someone who feels excluded and make them feel included.
What qualities do you look for when hiring someone on your team? What qualities do you avoid?
For me, collaborative skills, high emotional EQ, and empathy are extremely important. People who work well with others and can adeptly navigate complex discussions means they can get things done. Plus, they’re fun and easy to work with and usually have no ego.
“…you have to ensure your company has the right culture to make all of your employees feel included…”
What’s one piece of career advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
I think it’s to realize your career is not a straight path but a crooked one that goes in all different directions, but every step of the way is enriching and builds on the other. It’s like a patchwork quilt, it seems random, but in the end it’s an amazing experience.
Which three books, podcasts, or news sources do you think everyone should read? Why?
Wow this is a hard question to narrow down to 3! I love reading, so I’ll just suggest a few books I read recently.
- First, for news sources: I love the Economist. I subscribe to it weekly and love their concise summaries of global politics, business, and technology issues. They also have excellent deeper dive special reports. Honestly, if you read one of those, you learn the ins & outs of a situation whether it’s AI or the situation in Hong Kong. It’s also global in its coverage which I appreciate. Since I’ve lived in many countries, I like to know what’s going in the world, which sometimes isn’t covered in US news sources as well.
- For nonfiction books: I recently read “Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy” by Magdelena Yesil as part of a women’s book club at work. I found it really inspiring to hear her advice on how she navigated the male-dominated tech world as a VC. Her advice helped me take the steps to accelerate my own career.
- For fiction books: There are too many! But if I must pick one, I would suggest “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. I love books that allow me to step into someone else’s shoes and give me a glimpse into understanding their life and perspective. American Marriage is that kind of book. It’s about a Black couple who are urbane professionals in Atlanta. Their life is thrown into a spin when the husband is wrongfully accused of rape and ends up in prison. The voice and prose are also extremely original and poetic. She’s kind of like the next Toni Morrison.
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?
As mentioned above, I grew up in an international community as a child, so being around diverse groups is more the norm to me than not. As a result, promoting diversity and inclusion is something I’m passionate about and have spearheaded at companies I’ve worked at. At my current company, I’m active on the Diversity, Inclusion, & Equity Council at Hinge Health and helped start a mentorship program and a Women’s Employee Resource Group. I’m currently organizing an empowerment workshop for women and underrepresented groups by bringing in an external speaker, Diane Flynn, on how to have difficult conversations and language presence. At my last company, Udemy, I also started a mentorship program and led our Women’s Group as well.
What’s one tangible step every employer should take to help build a more representative organization?
I’ve thought about this a lot. Unconscious bias training isn’t enough, processes have to change to ensure diversity and inclusion happens at an organization. For example, on the recruitment side, you first have to diversify your sources of new candidates. Referrals, while heavily relied on by companies, can end up cloning your current workforce as opposed to diversifying it. I think avoiding only going to certain universities for recruitment is another important step. Recently, there are many new sources for recruiting diverse candidates, like Work Wider. Second, once you recruit diverse candidates, you have to ensure your company has the right culture to make your employees feel included. This involves unconscious bias training, buddy or ally systems, calling out discrimination when you see it, etc. Managers also have to be held accountable when hiring and promoting their team members. This accountability has to be built into the processes like a manager’s performance review.