2023 John ”Jack” Koten Corporate Award Recipient, Jennifer Temple

The Plank Center recognizes and promotes the critical role mentors play in helping to develop leaders and advance the profession and honors leaders throughout the profession who, by word and deed, have demonstrated a superior commitment to mentoring others and who are committed to accelerating the success of others in the field at its annual Milestones in Mentoring Gala. Our question-and-answer series introduces the 2023 Milestones in Mentoring award recipients.

Meet Jennifer Temple

Jennifer Temple joined the Hewlett Packard Enterprise leadership team as chief communications officer in July 2018. She has devoted her career to advising chief executives and building high-performing teams to create customer loyalty, enact cultural change, and manage large-scale transformations. As executive vice president and CCO, Jennifer is leading the transformation of the global communications function to distinguish HPE in the marketplace, enhance the employee experience and demonstrate societal impact.

Read on to learn what mentorship means to Jennifer!

What Have You Found To Be the Most Important Key To Having a Successful Mentor/Mentee Relationship?

Like any relationship we have about having the constant check-in on how we’re doing as a unit (SO, siblings, parents), making sure you’re checking on the original objectives and seeing if we are achieving the goals we want to hit. Never take the relationship for granted; “any healthy relationship we have doesn’t just sit there with no watering.”

What Is One Powerful Thing You’ve Learned From Mentoring Someone?

It works both ways (from being a mentee to a mentor), and to think of their career as a mosaic of experiences instead of a ladder. It’s limiting to think about a career as place A to B – instead, think of the accumulation of experiences that make it fun or scary to go to work.
Ask for opportunities that seem out of left field. Say yes to opportunities that seem out of left field. I say this to my mentees who are put into a box for a skill but not looking at what they could give to some of their experiences.

There Are a Myriad of Changes Going On Around Us. What Issues Have or Will Become a “Wake-up Call” to the Profession?

The employer trust factor, as it relates to employee engagement, always had value placed on external communications (can’t launch a product or land a news story without this); I don’t think there was an appreciation for internal employee communication. We need to transform how we think about internal communication and culture within the company as the backbone of the whole organization.

Invest in ways to engage people. Employees also need to be engaged when going back to their offices. Employers should think of how to cross-train their people and get them to apply their craft to the office. I have loved to see the rise and appreciation for all things internal!

Now it’s time for some fun and rapid-fire questions!

What’s Your Favorite Way To Spend a Saturday?

Watching and cheering for the University of Michigan’s football team with my family – Go Blue!

Favorite App?

CouchTo5K. It’s the app that got me fired up for fitness while we were quarantining during the pandemic and has reminded me of the value of setting and meeting goals and then working towards even bigger ones!

If Given the Choice to Trade Places With Anyone (Living or Dead) For One Day, Who Would It Be and Why?

I’d trade places with my son, Jack, a freshman at the University of Michigan. I envy the opportunity he has to focus on learning and being curious. I would love to dive into some of his coursework on Roman Archaeology, Coding and the History of the American Economy!

Favorite Place to Vacation and Why?

Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach, California. It’s a place that reminds me of new beginnings. Twenty-two years ago, I took a risk and moved from San Francisco to Southern California to chase an enticing career opportunity. I arranged for CNBC’s Bill Griffeth to broadcast Power Lunch from Pelican Hill. Their then-head golf pro, D.B., gave Bill a putting down the coast from our home in the Bay Area to Newport at least every other year to relax and revisit some of our favorite memories at Pelican Hill – these days, often with our teenage boys in tow.

My leadership tip is… ask smart questions.

My mentorship tip is… don’t just aspire to move up a ladder in your career. Instead, consider building a mosaic or a patchwork of experiences. When we think about growing our careers as a mosaic instead of as rungs on a ladder, we uncover a whole realm of possibilities that may not have been obvious, really appreciating that the accumulation of experiences that allow you to do something a little scary or try something you’ve never tried before is what will make for the most enriching career and also afford the best success.

Every mentor is… a sounding board and an ally.

A lesson that took you the longest to learn… it took me time to appreciate that my personal bar for achievement can seem unrealistically high and perhaps daunting to others. The reality is that I work on this every day, striving to find the best recipe for unlocking potential and performance without creating feelings of deflation in my peers, my team or myself.

Habits in your daily routine that strengthen your leadership skills… journaling. I write a lot. I have a notebook in my bedside drawer so I can deposit thoughts for the evening with the confidence they’ll be remembered and revisited in the morning. Family trips or major milestones are some of my favorite entries – and often include pictures, doodles, and drawings. Recording what I’ve experienced helps cement my memories and translates to how I document and discuss learnings from key work efforts with my team. Remembering and revisiting experiences and what they taught us helps us grow.

Three things you do to inspire and encourage teamwork… invest in relationships, create space for open and honest conversation, and set ambitious goals with clear interdependencies.


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