Three questions for our newest partner
In the spirit of all of us getting to know Jen a little bit better, we recently asked her three questions about her work at Kenning. Here’s what we learned.
How did your professional journey lead you to Kenning and why is it a good fit for you?
I spent the earlier part of my career discovering and unpacking leadership development in different ways. I didn’t come to it via a traditional path; instead I discovered it through my own experiences and reflections, and some unexpected twists along the way. From my early days as a strategy and management consultant to my time directing a center focused on leadership development at UC Berkeley, I have always had a keen interest in observing and experiencing different leadership styles in practice and the impact they have.
Over the years, I found myself often struck by the importance of adaptive changes like self-awareness, authenticity, and the ability to engage with people and organizations who think differently than you, in addition to the technical skills that leaders need to succeed in their particular discipline. I realized that I wanted to bridge my theoretical work from UC Berkeley together with the practical application from my earlier career by working in a real-world setting with real-world leaders.
In the process of that discovery, I think three key criteria guided me to Kenning in particular: first, I wanted to work with colleagues who can find the bridge between well-informed theories and how they play out in practice; second, I wanted the space to explore new approaches and be challenged to grow with people who are at the top of the field; and, third, I wanted to feel fulfilled in my career and also make space for the other parts of my life that are equally important to me. Kenning fit all of those and then some. I genuinely enjoy the Kenning team, and the fact that we can have fun while also pushing our thinking is icing on the cake (or, more bacon on the plate, in my case). I feel incredibly fortunate to have found my way to Kenning and to be elected partner.
What unique perspective do you add to Kenning’s multi-faceted approach to developing leaders and organizations?
I fundamentally come to this work through a facilitation lens. This means a careful focus on process and finding ways to break an individual or group out of their “norm” and get to different ways of thinking. In a team or organizational setting, I always ensure we make space to hear all the voices and perspectives in the room and bring forward the wealth of ideas that can make a group’s efforts even more fruitful.
I’m also pleased to bring to Kenning and our clients what I’m learning through my continued teaching at UC Berkeley. Working with students there continues to sharpen my thinking on topics like curriculum design and the arc of leadership development programs. But more importantly, the students challenge me daily to question the status quo and stay on the cutting edge of where leadership development can go. This exchange of ideas is something I, my students, my Kenning partners, and our clients all benefit from.
How would your clients describe working with you?
I think my clients would say that while I have mastered different skills and approaches at a theoretical level, I’m flexible in how we apply it in real life. I like to focus on finding practical applications and working through the day-to-day realities when helping clients overcome challenges or think about opportunities for growth. Along with that, I’m authentic about who I am, and aim to be thoughtful, caring, and fun.
As mentioned previously, I bring a facilitative mindset to every situation, whether 1:1 coaching, a team meeting, or a large offsite. That means I habitually reflect back what people are saying, listen for themes and connections, and push people to examine assumptions and underlying drivers in order to get to a breakthrough. This is what I most love about my job – seeing someone (or an entire room!) light up when they get to an “aha” they likely would not have gotten to without my help.
Learn more about Jen and/or contact her here.