Public Sector Contracts Manager, HP
Thank you for talking to us today, Jen. Can you tell us about your current job title and responsibilities at HP?
I’m the Public Sector Contracts Manager for HP (formerly Poly). I manage the contracts that the government uses to purchase our products through reseller partners and work with our partners, teaching them how and when to use contracts.
Did you envision yourself working with public sector contracts? How did you get to where you are today?
I actually fell into this career by chance and never looked back! I got lucky by being hired at a fantastic company under a manager that allowed me to grow according to my strengths. There were times of stress, of course, and times when I questioned whether I could keep up with the pace, but I eventually realized that it was the stress and the pace that I loved the most. Once I realized that, I knew I could handle just about anything thrown at me.
Did you have any mentors or sponsors while rising through your career? Anyone you want to shout out?
I’m so fortunate to have been able to learn from so many amazing women over the years. Amy, Michelle, Jeanne, and Karin are always my biggest cheerleaders and are some of the most “pro-women” people in our industry. My closest friend, Amy, is also a Contracts Manager and we learn so much from each other. She’s my number one go-to when I need advice, and we have each other to share our victories and commiserate together over our losses. She’s amazing!
How have you seen your industry change for women or other underrepresented groups since you started?
Since I joined the information technology industry, I’ve always been impressed with the amount of women in top management positions. But what I have seen change over the years is the amount of LGBTQ+ representation. Diversity makes us all better.
How has being a part of AWE Accelerator changed how you show up to work every day? What was your favorite session/training?
The greatest thing I took away from my AWE sessions was that we need each other. No matter how self-sufficient you may be, no matter what your role is, or how many people report to you, there is so much to gain from other women. And until women are truly treated equally, we can never stop lifting each other up. One thing that I notice more than I did in the past is how often women get interrupted in meetings. I’ve made it a point to speak up when I see that happen, “Mary, was there something you wanted to add?” It’s not always my place to say something but I speak up when I can. The more we speak up for one another, the more people will start recognizing their own bad behaviors and start to change.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is finding strengths in others. At my previous job I had the most amazing team, most of whom were brought on to do something that really wasn’t right for them. As I learned their talents, I was able to expand the team in new directions that built upon those strengths. It was a great success because not only were we using their talents in better ways, but the team loved their jobs and felt valued.
What is your motivating force in business and in life? Has it changed over the years?
For so many years, my motivating factor was trying to be the very best at what I did. Over time, I came to realize that it was more important to love what I do and make sure I had a strong work-life balance. My family is now my motivation. My husband supports everything I do, and I want my children to learn that loving what you do is more important than WHAT you do.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that we can’t find listed on your resume.
I can name every country in the world by continent! Years ago, I wanted to learn something new and obscure so I practiced and practiced until I could do it. It’s not exactly a fun party trick but I now have an “interesting fact” to share during meeting introductions!
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.