Maggie Chan Jones ‘96 helps advance gender diversity in the C-suite
Binghamton University School of Management alumna helps others rise to the top
Maggie Chan Jones ’96 realizes how rare her ascension to the C-suite is and wholeheartedly believes it doesn’t have to be that way.
The founder and CEO of Tenshey, a startup dedicated to advancing gender diversity and leadership development through executive coaching, Jones has made it her mission to ensure there are more people like her making decisions at the top.
“Only 20% of people in the C-suite are women, and only 4% are women of color,” says Jones. “I want to be part of the driving force to change that.”
Originally from Hong Kong, Jones moved to New York City at age 14. The transition was not easy.
“The first thing that happened after I went through immigration at JFK was not being able to find my luggage. And trying to explain to someone at the airport that I had lost my luggage — in English — was already a challenge,” she says.
Jones majored in business administration at Binghamton University. Originally pursuing finance, she discovered her love of marketing in an introduction to marketing course with Philip Burger.
“There is so much about the strategy itself, and then there is the storytelling. Those two things really stood out to me as things I was interested in exploring,” she says.
And while she was determined to one day become a chief marketing officer, it would take many twists and turns for Jones to reach her “career North Star.”
Failing to land a job in New York after graduation, Jones returned to Hong Kong to work for a company she had interned with for the previous two summers. After a few months, she moved to Seattle and sent out more than 100 résumés (through the postal service!) before accepting a job as a junior buyer with ADIC, a data storage company.
“Even though marketing was something I wanted to do, I’ve also believed that sometimes you have to get back into the reality of where you’re at and get your foot in the door,” she says.
After two years in purchasing, Jones landed a position in product management in marketing, starting down a career path that led her through positions at Microsoft and software company SAP, where she became its first female CMO. She hopes that her journey will inspire young people who are struggling to find jobs in the fields they are passionate about.
“When you have the will, there is always a way. It may not be today, but if you keep working on it and learn new skills along the way, you can absolutely get there,” she says.
After 20 years of working in corporate positions, Jones decided that she was ready for a change. Realizing the impact that executive coaches had on her career growth, the idea for her own company was born and she founded Tenshey (“angels” in Japanese) in 2017.
“We get to work with organizations that truly care about developing their female talent and focusing on diversity and inclusion. Helping them to design programs that can accelerate leadership development for their female talent — that’s been a really amazing experience,” she says.
Jones calls her support system (her friends, sponsors, mentors, coaches, colleagues, mother, husband and miniature poodle, Charlie) the “secret sauce” to her success. This support system also includes members of her Binghamton network (she considers her college roommates her best friends, and her tennis coach is a Binghamton alumnus).
As she reflects on her journey, she encourages others to take risks, rely on their support systems and focus on one step at a time.
“If you break your North Star down into smaller steps, that makes it easier to take those steps to get to where you want to be.”