Forté News

The Path to Authenticity May Include Twists and Turns

When Jenean Glover and Dr. Jennifer Turner were friends growing up on the south side of Chicago and dreaming about their futures, it never occurred to them that 30+ years later they would be sharing a stage in Los Angeles while offering advice to hundreds of young women with their own hopes and career aspirations.

As the featured guests of Dialogue with Leadership, held during the 2022 Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, Jenean and Jennifer revealed additional similarities beyond their beginnings: both work in the entertainment industry, both have MBAs, and both are African-Americans who have continually redefined their careers on their own terms.

But there are also differences, with careers that have taken twists and turns in ways neither could have expected. During the session, Jenean and Jennifer candidly shared what they have learned along the way.

Have a Vision

After earning an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, Jennifer started her career at Goldman Sachs, but she realized “after two hours on the trading floor” that she would eventually need more creativity. “Business school is not just about accounting and finance; it’s about expansion and growth,” she explained.

Acknowledging the “huge leap” from business to a career in entertainment, Jennifer said she leveraged “every network I could” to move into programming positions at Soapnet, Oxygen Media, Bravo Entertainment, and she now serves as executive vice president of TriStar Television.

I like to learn and be challenged even if it’s easier to stay where I am.

While her business background was essential to these roles, equally important was her ability to demonstrate that she could learn the things she didn’t know. Jennifer’s first job at Soapnet got her in the door of the entertainment industry, but “I had no idea what a creative executive was,” she said, until a mentor “taught me how to speak to creative people, which is different than [speaking to] businesspeople.”

“Have a vision for what you want, even if you can’t figure out how to get from A to F,” she recommended to anyone looking to pivot to a new field. While shifting career gears is not easy, Jennifer said a through line in her life has been a love of learning. “I like to learn and be challenged even if it’s easier to stay where I am,” she explained.

It’s Okay to Pivot

Similar to Jennifer, Jenean is no stranger to gutsy career moves. Since getting her MBA from the University of Southern California (Marshall School of Business), Jenean has held sales and marketing roles at major corporations, has been a talent agent and manager and an entrepreneur, and she is currently the first executive director of The Blackhouse Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to advocate and provide a platform for Black talent in the entertainment industry.

Like Jennifer, Jenean embraces her non-linear path. In the midst of navigating her career, Jenean said the variations didn’t always make sense at the time, but looking back now, they are clearer. “If you pivot, it’s okay. I don’t think there are mistakes, even if something seems sidewise,” she said. Jenean sees change as a vehicle for growth. “Think what you can get from the experience, what you can learn,” she recommended. “Nothing is the kiss of death — everything is an opportunity to grow.”

Integrate All Parts of Yourself

Like Jenean, Jennifer has navigated several shifts in her career, and she has also integrated her interests into a collective whole.  As a child, she had an eating disorder, but over the years she has prioritized her fitness and overall health, and she is the founder of Mad Cool Fitness, a lifestyle and wellness brand that encourages people to live healthier, more active lives.

She also pursued a PhD in Public Health Education and Behavior Science because she believed credentials were essential to design health programs at Mad Cool Fitness. After struggling to choose between her two interests (television and health/fitness), Jennifer said, “I finally realized that my greatest strength was to integrate” them.

Nothing is the kiss of death — everything is an opportunity to grow.

Jenean concurred, saying, “You don’t have to fragment yourself, and be an ‘either’…you are an ‘and.’”

Recognizing that the audience of women about to embark on their MBAs might be hesitant about upcoming career-related decisions, Jenean reassured them. “Sometimes you’ve just got to hang on…you don’t know how it’ll all shake out,” she explained.

Accept that the journey may have a few bumps along the way, but also recognize they will get you closer to where you authentically need and want to be.

Related posts

Get newsletters and events relevant
to your career by joining Forté.

our partners