Jenn has more than 20 years' experience helping companies recreate their digital capabilities to achieve sustainable, competitive advantage. Jenn left Google in 2017 to head up a team at NTUC Income, tasked with securing the commercial viability of their corporate innovation insurance products through agile product development and growth hacking.
Jenn’s passion is to help pre-Internet companies develop deeper open innovation partnerships with startups; this can be seen in her work as a mentor, advisor and angel investor to female founders across the SEA Region. We tracked her down for a quick interview ahead of our Bravest Conference in Singapore on 30 October.
What’s your golden rule?
Challenge your thinking in moments of conflict; no matter how right you think you are, it's always a good practice to check the motivations of your own arguments.
Who has been your biggest influence?
I tend to be influenced and inspired by people who have changed and grown out of tough circumstances. Right now, my biggest influence is my 19-year-old son Gabriel, who has built a network, learned to live on his own, picked up another language and is nailing uni in a city far away from us. His remarkable trait? He's not lost his sense of humour in all this process. It humbles me because I have migrated 4 times and I always struggle for the first 3 months.
What is your most hated business expression?
OMG! Any lame-ass American metaphor like: “Open Up the Kimono” in deal conversations or "Hit it out of the park" in performance conversations makes me want to say “stab you in the eyeballs with a fork!” - and I mean that literally.
How can marketers be braver?
In my opinion, marketers are THE BRAVEST corporate breed out there! They take on digital transformation, analytics, ROI, Branding, Communications, Partnerships, Business targets; Internal Comms, External Comms, Company Christmas Parties, Brand Operations, Digital Marketing AND they still make the company look good. My only advice would be for marketers to be more “strategic” with their bravery - marketers can’t be everything to everyone.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
I left a huge global Tech (Google) to join a Local Singaporean incumbent Insurance company (NTUC Income). The Google brand opens boardroom doors. I really wanted to know If I could do the same with the BIG G on my business card. And I did. I learned, I grew and I made a meaningful impact. I also found my own voice and leadership style in the process, and I am eternally grateful top Income to allow me to do that.
Which leader do you admire most and why?
Greta Thumberg. She is not bullshitting around.
What’s your favourite word?
"Shiny" as an adjective to refer to the spark in people’s eyes when they solve a challenge or are excited about the ideas that they know will have a positive impact. I use this term when coaching: “I see you are shiny today Amelia, tell me more."
Tell us a secret
I want to become a Member of the Marketing Society but I have been too lazy to get around activating my membership :)
Jenn Villalobos is VP and Head of Data Governance at NTUC Income and is speaking at our Singapore Bravest Conference on 30 October.