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Spotlight Series: Jen Brown, Senior Director, GoTo

Jen Brown, Senior Director, GoTo

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Jen Brown is a senior director at GoTo, overseeing marketing in the EMEA region.

She has over 20 years of experience in bringing products and services to market and has been managing pan-EMEA strategies for over twelve years.

WE SAT DOWN WITH JEN TO DISCUSS HER ROUTE INTO TECH, BEING A WOMAN IN THE INDUSTRY, AND HER ADVICE TO OTHERS.

HOW DID YOU GET INTO TECH?

I always loved solving complexity with straightforward solutions. Throughout my life, I’ve seen people overengineer challenges with unnecessarily complicated solutions – tech can cut through those challenges. I find it fascinating to see how far tech has come since the start of my career and find it exciting to think where it will continue to progress from here. I enjoy taking a business problem and using a combination of tech, people, and processes to solve it. At heart I’m a consequentialist, so for me the interest will always lie in the outcomes and ROI and how it can benefit a company, its customers, and the market as whole.

My degree was a BSc in Information Systems Management, so I suppose I wanted to be able to apply what I had learnt in the business world.

At the time I didn’t even realise I was bucking the trend, I just had a genuine love of tech.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

Very early on in my career I worked with a powerhouse lady who had an incredible presence in a very male dominated environment. She could hold her own -and then some!- in any situation. I found that incredibly inspiring. Any pre-conceived notions I had went straight out the window after working with her. At the time, telecoms was a very narrow demographic and she, as well as other women I have met along the way, have inspired me to excel whilst also being true to myself.

They didn’t compromise who they were, which made me realise that I didn’t have to either.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

My proudest moment in my career is moving into a role where sustainability genuinely matters and is actually integrated within the company in a real and meaningful way. We’re enabling people to work from anywhere, which means my carbon footprint is significantly lower in this role than it was in any others. The flexibility that is afforded to me is making me the most productive I’ve ever been. I’m proud of how much myself and colleagues achieve without needing to be in the same room.

I also love how this flexibility enables me to spend more time with my children and means they can see what a working mum looks like in real time. They don’t have to imagine me in an office. Mum is just working in the other room. That makes me very proud.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU WHEN WORKING IN THIS FIELD?

Effective communication, especially when friction exists, is essential. It is about effectively leaning into the comms that needs to happen – avoiding critical conversations will only disrupt business. Empathy is no longer a luxury, but an expectation, which is as it should be. A leader’s ability to maintain their EQ is expected to be just as good as their IQ, if not more.

The support you give your colleagues should be just as important as the support you give your friends and family.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Imposter syndrome, front and centre. I have an amazingly supportive husband who sees what I’m capable of before I do. It’s been a process to get to the point where I can see myself as the capable person that others see me as and to realise that I don’t need to be the background singer – I can take the front of stage to share my knowledge and experience, knowing that it’s valuable.

I overcome this anxiety through meditation. The practice of recognising that in order to refill and recharge you have to stop and breathe. This is a fast-paced life filled with activities and thoughts and goals. You have to stop and breathe.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

As I said before, my advice is to meditate! To face any environment around you, you have to build up knowledge of yourself. You have to understand who you are, how you react to things, how other’s communication makes you feel and communicate to them how you can support one another. Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed worrying about how others perceive you. Having an awareness of how your behaviour affects others can help with this. Never act in the moment, give yourself time. I’m a Talk-to-Think kind of person, which can get me in trouble sometimes.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY? 

Assume there are no barriers until you come across one, and then make sure you have the right support to overcome them. A piece of advice that I was given is, never assume the negative. Perception is reality until you have the opportunity to politely course correct.

Just because someone has a differing opinion doesn’t mean they are wrong; they’re just offering another angle.

Understand their point of view as much as your own. You can disagree, but compromise and commit. Lastly, be as data driven as possible to achieve your goals. If you don’t love data, find a different career.

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