Jeannine Shao Collins
Executive Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer, Meredith Corporation
Posted on: February 8, 2012 | Go to profile
With two decades in the magazine industry, Jeannine has risen through the ranks of publications such as Prevention, Ladies’ Home Journal, and More. Today she leverages Meredith’s asset portfolio of digital, mobile, print, research and broadcast to create cross-platform opportunities for clients across Meredith’s magazine brands including Fitness, Parents, and Better Homes & Gardens. Her work has been recognized multiple times by Adweek Media’s “Hot List.”
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: My professional journey really started by accident. I went to school thinking I was going to be a biomedical engineer. When I discovered that I hated lab work I had to create a new plan for myself. I came to NYC to try advertising and found my way to the media sales side because I needed to make more money. My career was born because I fell in love with the media business. Figuring out new ways to communicate with consumers and advertisers has allowed me to be creative, competitive and has always been fun.
Q: What are 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: Great leadership is defined by:
1). The ability to get people to follow you
2). The ability to listen
3). The ability to act and take risks
Q: Innovation requires creative thinking. How do you tap into the creative thinking resources within your business?
A: I think listening, networking and collaborating are essential to innovation. Innovation happens when ideas collide. New ideas are usually evolution of old ideas. It is important to know that one organization does not have all the answers. You must learn from others. Try to spend time with organizations you admire and learn from mistakes that others have made. In addition, try to spend part of your day to dream.
Q: It’s hard to focus on the “big picture” sometimes because we can get caught in the weeds of work and life. When does visioning come clearest or easiest for you? Or what inspires your vision?
A: Vision usually comes to me in the shower or in quiet moments. Vision comes after a problem is identified and people are working to solve it and collaborate.
ON Career Transitions
Q: Many people become discontent with their current career yet are too afraid or reluctant to make change. What’s your best advice for women in this situation?
A: Figure out what you love and the rest will follow. When you follow your passion, your career will find you.
Q: Is there an example in your life of a time when others were against you or your dream, yet you persevered?
A: When I was younger my parents had a very different idea of what success looked like professionally. They wanted me to be an engineer. They didn’t understand advertising and marketing and they certainly didn’t understand why I would be willing to make less than $15,000 as a starting salary. I persevered because I did what was right for me. I lived out my own dreams rather than theirs.
Q: What are you most passionate about and how do you incorporate it into your career or everyday life?
A: I want to be with people who make me happy and I want to be creative every day. I live by this philosophy always…surround yourself with people who you care about and who care about you and do things that are fun and enjoyable. The rest will take care of itself. I have a very satisfying personal and professional life.
Q: It is a common saying that we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. Can you share a story about a time when you experienced a mistake, and how you eventually came out a winner because of the lesson it taught you?
A: My boss and mentor of many years retired. I was devastated and reluctant to accept my new supervisor. I was slow to understand what I could learn from someone else. After a number of very dissatisfying months, I realized that change can be good. I embraced the new reporting structure and eventually my career began to take off. The lesson I learned is that change is essential to moving forward and you shouldn’t be scared of it.
ON Taking Risk
Q: How do you overcome feelings of insecurity, fear of discomfort when deciding to take a risk?
A: Realize that very few things are life threatening. Risks are how you learn. Go for it…what is the worst that could happen?
ON Time Management
Q: Online calendars, emailing ourselves, post-it notes…I’m still struggling to find the best way to manage my time and to-do list. What’s your method?
A: I am not sure if I have mastered this. I just try to put one foot in front of the other quickly and try my best to get everything done.
Q: What place in the world has the most sentimental value to you and why?
A: Home. Anywhere my family is. I love them the most in the world.
Q: How do you balance career and motherhood?
A: I only do two things: family and work. I have decided that work is my “me” time. I have very few hobbies.
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: Valentino, DVF, Prada and Theory
Q: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
A: It would be a Chinese American Comedy.
Q: What are the beauty items you could not live without?
A: Lipstick, lipstick, lipstick