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Jeanne-Marie Owens

Q&A, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021, Vice-president, operations, Phoenix Labs Age 35

Q&A with Jeanne-Marie Owens, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021; Vice-president, operations, Phoenix Labs Age 35

Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?

My parents. They were dedicated to supporting the people around them.

What is your guilty pleasure?

In general, I try not to feel guilty about aspects of my life that bring me joy.

What is the best book you would recommend?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things. If you’re looking for fiction, The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an engaging and trippy read.

Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?

My goals for the last many years have been and continue to be: support and nurture my children to become positive, confident, thriving adults and members of society, and support and nurture my company.

What was your childhood career dream?

I went through many phases of interests — astronaut, marine biologist, ballerina, lawyer. I’ve always known I wanted to have an enduring positive effect on the world.

Name your happiest place.

Second-hand bookstores!

What was your toughest business or professional decision?

Early in our startup days we ran into significant cash flow challenges. To get through, I had to ask our leadership team to forego payroll for multiple months. I also had to tell vendors we cared aboutthat we were not going to pay them on time.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

I’m proud of the choices 20-year-old me made. She was not working under ideal conditions and she made some big brave jumps outside her comfort zone to try to better her future.

What is your best habit?

I wear the same outfit to work everyday. Knowing that I will be comfortable all day, and spending zero morning minutes towards thinking about it, has been a huge mental health improvement.

Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.

I don’t have a post-secondary degree. Everything I have learned has been through a combination of hands-on doing, reading constantly and extensive Google research.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Best career advice was: “Don’t drop a ball without telling your team.” Best parenting advice was: “It won’t get better. But it will get different.”

Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there is a minimum amount of in-person social interaction we all need.

What career highlight are you most proud of?

The day I realized more than 50% of the team were not ‘cis straight white dudes,’ which is a remarkably high ratio for our industry.