Leadership Interview: Jennifer Dorian – Challenges and Unleashing Passions (Part 2)
Last week in my interview with Jennifer Dorian, General Manager at Turner Classic Movies, we learned about how Jennifer journeyed to her current position. As we all know, no journey is without its obstacles, and it is in the journey that we often find ourselves. In the second part of Jennifer’s interview she shares with us some of her challenges, and how she came to unleash her passions in her career.
What was the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
I think one obstacle would be fear of change because I was very comfortable with the boss that I had. I adored working for the man I worked with for 18 years. I did constantly get different challenges and different opportunities throughout that span because he was changing things frequently. But I think it’s possible I stayed a little long towards the end because it was comfortable.
What I benefited from was the conditions around me changed and it forced me into thinking, “Change is upon us what’s the best move?” So I don’t think it was a huge obstacle but I think it’s an observation that I would share so that other people don’t stay too long and get too comfortable.
Looking back would you have advocated for yourself a little bit more in that situation where you had a difficult manager?
I have been in a position of the very opposite where I had a very difficult, destructive boss at a company. I was really young and I thought these were the conditions you were handed and you just dealt with it. Again external conditions removed her and it was night and day, my ability to contribute, to be successful in our department.
Networking and mentors would have helped me so much. I was really young, and those concepts weren’t in the language yet. It was 1994 and people didn’t talk as much about coaching and mentoring. I think networking in the organization to get around so that people would know what I was doing, getting advice from more experienced people would have helped.
Did you have a fan club at that time or is that something that you started to develop later because I know in Susan’s book “New Rules of the Game” that is something she mentions?
Definitely inside Turner, I’ll tell you an example. I worked for the same guy for 18 years at multiple companies so you could view me as having that one dimensional relationship to Turner. Luckily through all my projects, collaborations, and extra-curricular activities at work I forged a ton of relationships across the business units that I think helped me tremendously even in this job that I landed. I think it’s really important to have advocates who know your interests, your abilities, the story of you. I think at Turner I overcame that first reputation of “Oh she came with so and so from Coke.” Then I became a Turner person, not a so and so person, but a Turner person. My mentor actually helped me do that too. He said, “You need to get out more and work on different projects with different people.” So I think that is really important.
How do you find joy and pleasure in your role?
I love working. For me it’s a creative outlet, it’s a social outlet, it’s a challenge and achievement outlet. So on all those levels I love being creative and thinking things for the first time or thinking them through, puzzle solving or problem solving, just ideation. I have to tamper my energy if I tell the truth because I can be a little too gung-ho or too excitable because I love the creative act.
And then secondly, I love a challenge, I love teamwork, I love the social side of work, people coming together around shared objectives or even passion. That’s what is fun about TCM. Our work is our objective but it’s also for a lot of people their passion. They got out of school, packed their cars, and drove to Atlanta to interview at TCM. This is where they wanted to work so it’s fun to work with passionate people.
How do you encourage others on your team to share in this?
I try to also create an environment that is fair and rewards contribution and lets people follow their energies. Even though their job description might be X if someone on my team comes to me and they are really passionate about Y, we’ll work together to find ways for them to dabble in Y or on ramp into Y.
Part 2 of 3, To be continued