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Life After Bing

Maggie Chan Jones ‘96: Founder and CEO of Tenshey, Inc.

In our "Life After Bing" series, we bring you quick interviews with alumni who are leaders in their fields, trail-blazers. Find out how these alums got to be where they are now, and how Binghamton shaped their lives.

Our featured alumna Maggie Chan Jones ’96, a seasoned C-level executive (the highest-level executive in senior management) specializing in marketing, business transformation and technology and she was one of Forbes World’s 50 Most Influential CMO's. Maggie is an entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Tenshey, Inc., a tech-enabled startup with a mission to advance gender diversity and leadership development through executive coaching. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Maggie was the first woman to become the global chief marketing officer of SAP. Maggie is responsible for leading SAP’s advertising and brand experience, digital marketing, strategic events, and field and partner marketing functions across 180+ countries. During her tenure, Maggie led the transformation of SAP to becoming the world’s 21st most valuable brand! Read her full interview and her advice for our students!

1. When did you realize you wanted to go into entrepreneurship?

I feel like I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit within me. Many of the jobs I took in my career were about incubating new products or driving business model transformation. That said, it’s very different being entrepreneurial in a large corporation versus being a startup founder. When I reached my career North Star as the chief marketing officer of SAP, it became more apparent to me that we need more women at the senior leadership table. Research from McKinsey and LeanIn.org shows that only 20 percent of the C-suite are women, and only 3 percent are women of color. I realized that as a woman of color, my ascension to the C-Suite was rare, and shouldn’t be. After taking some time off and doing some soul searching, I knew it was time for me to combine my passion for marketing, tech and, most of all, helping more women reach their own career North Stars -- and my company, Tenshey, Inc., was born. Tenshey’s mission is to advance gender diversity in the workplace through executive coaching. I started working with an executive coach when I was a director of marketing at Microsoft and she’s been instrumental in my career growth. I want to help more women to harness their personal superpowers in their career journeys.

2. How do you feel Binghamton University prepared you for the workforce?

There have been many times over the course of my career when I have reflected on my days on campus. The education I received, combined with a study abroad experience in Japan, helped me to think globally and thrive. And more importantly, I met some of my best friends, Vivian Kong and Shibing Shen, during my freshman year at Binghamton. I continue to count on them as part of my support system, and vice versa.

3. What was the most impactful class you took at Binghamton within the School of Management?

It would have to be Marketing 301. I love the combination of strategy, positioning, storytelling and go-to-market approach in marketing. This class seeded my interest in marketing, which became my career path for the past 20 years.

4. What are common mistakes that students or candidates make when interviewing for a job?

I think the most common mistakes people make are (1) not having the right mindset when interviewing, (2) not doing the homework and (3) not knowing enough about themselves. Let me be more specific. When you’re interviewing for a job, a company is looking for solutions to a set of problems. Therefore, you need to think about how your skills and culture fit in the context of what problems the company is trying to solve. With information at our fingertips, the candidates who show the most passion for the role, best understanding of the company’s vision and goals, and how this role is aligning to their personal values will have the best chance to successfully land the job. To find the right fit for yourself, ask yourself: What are your one to three non-negotiables when considering a job? Start there to make sure you’re heading into a position that’s truly right for you personally and professionally.

5. Who would you say had the greatest influence on your career - teacher, colleague, boss, family member - and what did you learn from that person?

I think about it as an ecosystem of my support system with my family and friends, sponsors, managers, coach, mentors, colleagues and partners. They are all important, but yet each plays a different role in my career growth. The support system of my professional career is critical in opening doors to new opportunities and helping me to succeed. However, I wouldn’t be able to achieve my career goals without the support of my family and friends in my personal life.

6. What is the biggest piece of advice you have for a student interested in becoming an entrepreneur?

Do it! Don’t let your fear of failure hold you back. It’s good to create a risk mitigation plan so you can be honest with yourself on where the “headwind” may be coming, and how you plan to handle it. I’m a big proponent of trying new things to see what sticks. This will help perfect your vision and strategy. Listen intently to your customers, as they will guide you in your path to success.

7. Are there mistakes you’ve made during your career, and if so, what lessons have you learned from them?

Of course, I make mistakes all the time, and still do! When I was learning how to snowboard, my friend (and instructor) told me that if I don’t fall, I haven’t tried hard enough. That’s also true in my career. When you are trying something you have never done before, or when you are pushing yourself to new heights, you’re bound to make mistakes or simply fail. And that’s okay, because it adds to your experience. And when I find myself hesitant to take risks, I always remind myself with this question: “What’s the worst that can happen if I do this?” And if the answer is something I can live through, I’ll do it. So, be fearless!

Carolyn Bernardo is the advancement communications manager at Binghamton University. As a Binghamton native, she is passionate about the area and about the University. Have questions, comments or concerns about the blog? Email us at social@binghamton.edu.