You probably know the Thomas Edison quote: "Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Jennifer Lee, Global Managing Partner for Deloitte's Global Financial Advisory (“GFA”) group, offers an interesting variation: Professional success is “15 percent qualification and 85 percent drive and curiosity.”
“A lot of women don’t think they’re qualified,” Jennifer says. “Everyone can participate in the analytics and AI world in every function of the business. It shouldn’t just be a profession for ‘special’ people or just data scientists.”
Jennifer’s success may be attributable to drive and curiosity, but there’s no doubt her resume and qualifications puts her in the category of “special people.” She has been at Deloitte for the past 12 years, her second stint at a consultancy. In her management role, Jennifer has taken on the Managing Partner for Growth Platforms for Deloitte Canada, which includes building Deloitte's Global Cannabis and Hemp practices; the Future of Trust practice, Climate Change practice and most importantly offering strategies for a post-COVID world.
Jennifer advises global and Canadian retail clients, and assists senior executives in developing insight-driven strategies. She’s laser-focused on helping clients embed advanced analytics into their businesses. From 2000-2004, Jennifer served as a corporate strategy consultant, helping brands develop consumer experiences and market entry strategy.
“We brought all the retail thinking we have, and my background in retail and consumer business, and brought it into [Deloitte] growth platforms such as cannabis,” she says.
She previously served as the Senior Associate Director of Consumer Marketing for Bell Internet, where she led the pricing, marketing and distribution strategy, among many other responsibilities. She also served as the National Marketing Manager for Home Entertainment New Releases at Universal Studios. If you watched a blockbuster film in Canada in 2004, chances are Jennifer helped bring that title to you. Jennifer was then the youngest person in the Executive MBA program at the University of Toronto when she was admitted in 2006.
“What I like about getting into analytics and tech is how it helps us make better decisions,” she explains. “My observation is that people need insights, not just data-crunching. Technology on its own doesn’t help, but analytics can turn insight into action.”
Bringing Women into the STEM Field
Jennifer encourages younger women to form networks in order to drive gender equality in the workplace. “You have to build a group of women around you that will help raise you up,” she advises. “You alone cannot drive all the change but a group of you can. That’s why women in the corporate world band together.”
Judging by Jennifer’s resume, it would be easy to assume she’s an all-work-and-no-play kind of person. She’s quick to dispel this notion.
“Work is only one piece of you and you need to find a way to have many different things in your life. You need balance. You need to have the potential to have family (or not). You need the chance to have hobbies and engage in volunteerism. There is more to yourself than just work,” she says.
Jennifer is passionate about empowering disadvantaged women to start micro-businesses and volunteers in Central Asia (Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan). In Canada, she sat on the board of the MERIT Award Bursary Program. This commitment to global communities and individual mentorship has been recognized through the ASCEND Manulife Executive Mentor of the Year Award. She was recently awarded 2019 Consulting Magazine's Future Leader Award.
In other words: “Don’t measure your impact just by work. It’s what you do for society and people around you overall that counts.”
One of the ways Jennifer gives back is by paying it forward to young women. “Someone somewhere opened doors for me so now I can go and open doors for you,” she says. “It’s about giving and not just taking all the time. Your knowledge and wisdom is important to share. And when you’re in survival mode all the time you forget that.”