How This VP of Brand Marketing Found a Job at a Company with a Mission She Loves
One of Jennifer Martin's first jobs was working the front desk of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC, where she got very good at asking one question: "How can I help you?"
She credits her earnest, honest interest in the answer to that question with her career success. "I learned everything that I ever needed to know about customer service from working at the front desk of a hotel," explains Jen. "And I quickly learned that I needed to have that guest service lens on in my career. How can I help? What can I do? How can I partner with you? I think if you're more open, people come to you because they know you're open to learning, they know you're open to relationships. They know you're open to failure."
From hospitality to client service to agency to now being an in-house marketer, Jen's career has taken her around the country and through several industries, but the role she feels most excited about is the one she has now: VP of Brand and Advertising for AI healthcare startup Olive.
Not only is she working with a company whose mission aligns with her own—discovering hidden connections that make people's lives easier—but as a mom of a child with a rare genetic disorder, she knows just how important it is to find those connections within the healthcare industry, which is ripe for innovation.
How Olive can help patients
Jen's daughter Sarah has Rett Syndrome. "She's great and healthy and thriving and beautiful—and nonverbal and works really hard to do a lot of the things that come so easily to most of us," says Jen.
Caring for her daughter has given Jen an intimate look at all of the inefficiencies and failures of the American healthcare system. "I understand from a patient perspective how difficult it is to navigate all of it," she says. "The healthcare industry is hard to understand for many people: prior authorization, claims, insurance, appointments, rattling off for the 100th time that yes, she does have an allergy to penicillin...We have so much more to do to fix the system and streamline the patient experience."
Olive is a healthcare-specific artificial intelligence solution that can help hospitals optimize administrative workflows including processing invoices, managing registration, authorizing claims, and verifying benefits. "I want to make [my daughter's] life better," explains Jen. "This is an indirect way for me to do that. I can draw a parallel if I can make another parent's experience with a hospital be more streamlined."
Staying open to new possibilities
If you'd asked Jen as she began her career where she thought she'd end up, she probably wouldn't have answered with her current role or even industry. That's been true for most of the professional transitions she's made.
While working at the Hyatt early on in her career, she started a pilot program with what was then a little startup out of Las Vegas called Expedia. Their partnership began selling 10 rooms, then 40, and then turned into a new role for Jen at Hyatt's headquarters working on building out the hotel chain's ecommerce functionality to sell their rooms directly.
Then her hospitality background was appealing to an ad agency who needed an account director for their client, United Airlines, so Jen made the switch into agencies and marketing work. She and her husband then moved from Chicago to more family-friendly Columbus, where Jen got a job with a women-owned ad agency and took on other big projects, like launching Sherwin-Williams' ecommerce business.
But when IBM bought her agency and Jen realized she was on the fast track to becoming a partner, she had a wake-up call. She was at a training retreat for to-be partners that asked participants to think through their values, and Jen realized her current work wasn't aligned with what she cared about most. "[My coworker] and I spent a lot of time talking about what we wanted in life, and it was in those moments that I realized I wanted my work to matter," she says.
She left IBM and started at a smaller, more traditional ad agency, but it wasn't a good fit for Jen's ambitions. "I knew I wanted to find something that was rooted in technology, rooted in automation—which was a passion point for me at IBM—and rooted in creating better outcomes for humans," says Jen. She also knew she wanted to be on the client side of things. "I wanted to feel good about what I was building. At the agency, you don't get to own it. You have to just build it and walk away from it. And I'm at the point now where I would like to nurture a brand and see it grow and see it become something."
A friend told her to check out Olive. "I was drawn to Olive by her mission to drive innovation within healthcare, to affect patient outcomes. Olive has a vision for how to do it and the right team in place to make it happen," says Jen.
And now Jen is overseeing Olive's major branding campaigns in cities around the country, partnering with Olive's product and sales teams to get their message out, and finally feeling really connected to the work she spends all day doing.
She left us with a few tips for how you can find work that makes you feel the same way.
3 tips for finding a company whose mission you're aligned with
1. Write down your values. "The personal has to come before the professional. Start there and really try to understand and dig deep into your own self. Figure out what matters the most to you," says Jen, who offers an example: "I can tell you that in this moment, my family matters most to me, and my daughter is certainly a huge part of that."
2. Do your research. Jen notes that she didn't follow her own advice when she left IBM for another agency. "Find the leaders within whatever company you're evaluating and follow them on LinkedIn. See what they're saying, how they position themselves, how they position their company. Find multiple leaders to get a perspective that's more holistic," she says. She also recommends looking at hashtags that matter to you and seeing which companies use those in their posts. "Look to see how diverse the leadership is. Diversity drives much better thinking within an organization, much more well-rounded thinking."
3. Be yourself. "It manifests in different ways," says Jen, who notes that especially now, in extended work-from-home setups, it's important to be able to be your true self at work and feel like others are being authentic with you, too.
Diversity Reboot 2021: The One Hundred Day Kickoff<p><strong>When</strong>: February 1-5, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free!</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://summit.powertofly.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>We had to include our own Diversity Reboot on our list of the best diversity and inclusion events to attend in 2021 because we know firsthand how the quality of 100+ expert speakers, the enthusiasm of 10,000 participants, and the cutting-edge tech that enables meaningful virtual networking and job fairs combine to create a truly epic five-day experience. This year, the theme 100 Day Kickoff harnesses the energy of the new government's first 100 days in office to help jump-start personal and professional plans to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces. </p><p>Following the February summit, we'll have a monthly series of smaller virtual summits on topics spanning everything from returnships to LGBTQ+ advocacy, so be sure to stay tuned for updates!<br></p>
The Future of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When</strong>: February 3-4, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Free</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hr.com/en/webcasts_events/virtual_events/upcoming_virtual_events/the-future-of-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-2021_kcxf8glq.html#detail" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This virtual conference put on by HR.com focuses on how social movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have pushed DEI at work beyond legal compliance and into a major factor of any company or brand's culture, employee engagement, and performance. Topics include how to uncover and resolve pay gaps across your team and hire top-level diverse talent.</p>
Workplace Revolution: From Talk to Collective Action<p><strong>When</strong>: March 8-12, 2021</p><p><strong>Where</strong>: Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$820</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://cvent.me/ZQ4BbE" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>The Forum on Workplace Inclusion's 33rd annual conference includes 12 session tracks, from DEI Strategy to Social Responsibility, along with 59 workshops and daily networking sessions. This year's theme focuses on one question: "What will it take to start a workplace revolution that moves us from talk to action?"</p>
Diversity: How Employers Can Match Words With Deeds<p><strong>When</strong><strong>: </strong>May 19, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register</strong><strong>: </strong>Early bird registration is $49 and general admission is $149</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://hopin.com/events/may-virtual-conference-diversity-how-employers-can-match-words-with-deeds" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Here</a></p><p>From Day One is hosting monthly conferences in 2021 focused on different ways for companies to foster strong relationships with their customers, communities, and employees. May's half-day virtual event is focused specifically on how companies can make diversity promises that don't fall flat and features workshops, panels, and a fireside chat.</p>
Hire with Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion<p><strong>When:</strong> August 18, 2021</p><p><strong>Where: </strong>Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register: </strong>$195</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://www.hci.org/conferences/2021-virtual-conference-hire-diversity-equity-and-inclusion-august-18-2021" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>This conference put on by the Human Capital Institute is one of 12 virtual conferences that HCI has planned for 2021. This one focuses on fair and inclusive talent acquisition, including how to attract diverse talent, implement inclusive hiring practices, and addressing bias in employee selection. Other conferences will focus on optimizing talent strategy, engaging employees, and developing your workforce.</p>
Virtual Grace Hopper Celebration 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> September 26-29, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual, broadcast from Chicago, Illinois</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Was $799 for regular access to the virtual conference in 2020; 2021 pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://ghc.anitab.org/attend/registration/" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>Grace Hopper might be the best-known conference for women in tech. Through keynote presentations, networking sessions, job fairs, and community-building activities, vGHC reached over 30,000 women for their 2020 conference and are expecting even more in 2021! While not a conference focused exclusively on diversity and inclusion, many speakers plan to focus their talks on creating environments for women to thrive in the male-dominated tech field.</p>
Inclusion 2021<p><strong>When:</strong> October 25-27, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual and in person in Austin, Texas as of now</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register: </strong><a href="https://conferences.shrm.org/inclusion" target="_blank">Here</a>, though 2021 registration wasn't live at the time of writing</p><p>The Society for Human Resource Management's biggest conference of the year saw 1,200 DEI leaders participate last year; SHRM hopes to see even more come to learn, be inspired, and to walk away with a playbook of implementable strategies to create truly inclusive workplace cultures.</p>
AfroTech 2021<p><strong></strong><strong>When:</strong> November 8-13, 2021</p><p><strong>Where:</strong> Virtual</p><p><strong>Price to register:</strong> Early bird pricing is $149 for individuals and $249 for corporate attendees; regular pricing hasn't yet been announced</p><p><strong>Where to register:</strong> <a href="https://experience.afrotech.com/" target="_blank">Here</a></p><p>AfroTech is a conference hosted by Blavity, a tech media platform for Black millennials. It focuses on emerging tech trends, connecting Black talent with top tech recruiters, and providing networking and educational opportunities, with an overall goal of building a strong Black tech community. Over 10,000 people participated in 2020. While the conference isn't focused specifically on DEI, its main audience of Black tech talent is an important one to understand and to engage at work and beyond, and several speakers plan to focus on issues of race and inclusion at work. </p>
A Conversation with Vouch's Lead Designer Carrie Phillips
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How do you move from vaguely hopeful statements about what 2021 will mean for you personally and professionally to thoughtful plans that are likely to come to fruition?