Jen plans all of her outfits for the work week on Sundays while her 2 daughters nap. If she didn’t take that time to plan, she wouldn’t get out of the house each morning. She likes to shop in her closet, rather than actually go out shopping. Mixing and matching and trying new combinations of pieces she already owns. She begins her planning around shoes and everything else follows.
To her, clothes are functional and she doesn’t care about what people think about what she wears. She feels like she can be authentic working in the Target Creative culture, because anything goes. Well, except ball gowns.
When Jen said that she would wear a ball gown to work everyday if she could, I asked her why she didn’t. We sat in that question together and visualized all the people that she may encounter throughout her day as a senior leader. No ball gowns to work is the best choice.
The idea of ball gowns does say a lot about her style aesthetic though. Jen mostly wears dresses and definitely adds whimsical details with her sparkly accessories and flowy skirts. She keeps it professional overall, as we would expect any boss to do. Well, I do anyway.
Jen is originally from a small town of 600 in Wisconsin where she grew up on a hobby farm. Her dad was a musician and her mom worked at the local tire factory until the plant shut down when she was in middle school.
She has great respect for her mom and all that she sacrificed. Jen shared a profound memory about an outfit consisting of a Wilson’s leather jacket, Doc Martens and Girbaud jeans that her mom bought for her. Realizing how much her mom spent on those clothes, still makes her feel guilty. But Jen is motivated by guilt.
Growing up in that economic environment and watching her mom take on the financial responsibility and emotional toll that causes, Jen decided early on that she was going to get a job where she could make the most money. At her young age, that meant she had to be either a doctor or a lawyer.
Since Jen was good at math, doctor seemed like the right choice, so she entered college at St. Olaf pre-med. Then she read: “What to Expect Your First Year in Med School.” After that, she didn’t want to be a doctor anymore. She still loved math, so she majored in it, thinking she would possibly be a math teacher.
Instead, Jen found Target. She started as an intern and was offered a full-time opportunity. She got her first job in engineering, schlepping spreadsheets her first year as a professional. Over her 16 year career at the company, she has worked in Guest Insights, DotCom, Site Merch, Merchandising and presently, Target Creative, where she’s the Senior Director of Strategy and Operations.
Her career path at Target has been a journey of self-discovery. All along finding her way into a creative culture where there’s the perfect mix of left and right brain problems to solve.
Jen always loved art, but never allowed herself to pursue it as a career. So, while working at Target full-time, she went back to school and earned her art degree.
Although her favorite medium is sculpture, she found that she’s really good at painting, and that people are willing to pay her for it! She’s sold a lot of paintings and also had a piece hanging on the 26th floor of TPS (Target headquarters). So, it makes a lot of sense that this math wizard MBA, who values joy over anything else, would find her way into leading a department with a lot of creative people. It’s right where she belongs.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest
Could it be more than one person? If I were hosting a dinner party, I’d think about combinations of people. Oprah would be invited, of course. I’m not religious, but I’d like Jesus to come. I have A LOT of questions. A good-looking celebrity like Ryan Gosling and my twin sister so I’d have someone to debrief with after the party was over.
Would you like to be famous?
Yes, for something specific. I’d want to be famous for being an expert at something. Like an opera singer, and only opera fans know who they are. I think I could still be somewhat anonymous in that type of situation.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say?
Only if I need to be very specific about what I need to say. For instance, if I have to tell someone that they didn’t get the job, or if I have to provide negative feedback. I actually try not to do that stuff over the phone. I don’t like talking on the phone! I don’t even like making dinner reservations or ordering pizza over the phone!
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Jason (my husband) & I sleeping in. Working out on a beach. See my kids, kiss and hug them. Then go off to do something adventurous like hang-gliding or mountain jumping. Eat a good lunch. Have some down time, see my kids again. Then finish the day with a great dinner.
When did you last sing to yourself?
This morning. I play music when I get ready. I’m up at 5:00 a.m. and it helps me wake up. My kids tell me not to sing!
If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
Mind. I want my memories of the history of our family.
Do you have a secret hunch about how you’ll die?
I strongly believe an air crash. I research air carriers to see their crash records. I hate flying! I still travel, but I find myself pre-planning my death when I have to get on an airplane.
What do you and your partner have in common?
We’re both introverts, we’re both logical and make decisions well together. We also share the same interests. If we have 2 hours free, we’d agree on social ideas.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My 2 kids. I’m grateful for these magical moments we’re having because they’re still little. I’m their favorite person and they think I know everything. These moments won’t last, so I don’t take them for granted.
If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
I wish my mom wouldn’t have had to sacrifice so much and feel so much anxiety. I wish I could have alleviated some of her stress.