Women's History Month Q+A with Erica Jensen
The Greater Des Moines Partnership reached out to Erica Jensen, SVP, chief communications officer at Dotdash Meredith, to find out more about her leadership role and how she feels that Greater Des Moines (DSM) companies can better support women as they move into leadership roles. See the entire Q+A with Erica Jensen below.
Company: Dotdash Meredith
Position: SVP, Chief Communications Officer
How long have you been in your position?
I’ve been with Dotdash Meredith for a little over one year.
What was the process like getting to this leadership role? Was this something that you always wanted to achieve?
I have always had a lot of drive and set goals for myself. I spent many years at Principal Financial Group learning the business and working in various marketing and sales roles before finally figuring out what I loved doing — leading communications and public relations and setting people (and the business) up for success. So, yes, this type of role was always where I wanted to end up. This role at Meredith Corp. (now Dotdash Meredith) was going to take everything I had learned and apply it in a totally different industry that focuses on helping women. It’s a dream to be able to work for the largest digital and print publisher in the country with some of the most well-known and beloved brands in the world; many of which I grew up reading like Better Homes & Gardens and PEOPLE. Life can really come full circle.
Who are your leadership inspirations?
I have had so many people that influenced my career and life. It sounds cliché, but there are too many to list, and I know I would not be where I am today without each of those people, and I never forget that because you can’t achieve success alone. I have also tried to surround myself with people who make me better, think differently and genuinely care about others. My mom was my first strong female influence who told me every day I could achieve anything and was always there to support me and be a safe place to fall, which always gave me strength.
What is your favorite thing about your role?
I am working with strong women (and men) who are inspirational, innovative go-getters. Every day is different and very fast-paced, which I thrive on greatly. Additionally, I am so proud to lead this team of stellar communicators. It’s by far the best part of my job. They make me excited to come to work and partner with them while also helping them reach new heights in their career journey. If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years from great leaders, it’s that, as a leader, you are here to support your team however you can.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to pause and really think about the brilliant and powerful women who have paved the way for us now and what we can do to make sure young girls and women have equal opportunities to succeed in the future. If we continue to support each other and collaborate to drive meaningful change, the future is limitless.
What would you say are your greatest achievements to date?
Professionally, I stepped into the chief communications officer position, and in less than nine months in the role, I helped successfully lead the Meredith Corp. communications team through two significant corporate transactions: the sale of the local TV stations to Gray Television and our corporate operations and National Media Group (including its print and digital brand portfolio) to IAC’s Dotdash. Both deals closed on December 1, 2021.
Personally, my husband and I are raising a smart, funny and kind daughter we love dearly. She makes me a better person every day. She will always be the best part of my life. And I know she is the future, so it is important that I show her it is possible to live all your dreams no matter what they are.
Can you tell us about an obstacle you overcame in your career? How did you do it?
I look at obstacles as problems to solve. Know the problem and find solutions … more than one solution because the first may not work. Early in my career as an ambitious and eager employee, I needed to learn how to pace my expectations, or probably better said, have patience. Not everything was going to happen when I wanted it to. I needed to let the situation, the process, unfold and have patience with myself and those around me to get where we needed to be. Once I embraced that mindset, I became much more fulfilled at work and ultimately a better partner, team member and leader.
How does your company support you and other female leaders?
I was lucky that my professional career at Principal and Dotdash Meredith provided a great and supportive environment for women. Specifically, at Dotdash Meredith, women make up more than 50% of the workforce, and we have three Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that create powerful networks and support systems that attract, retain and elevate women. And it is what we do every day to help women in their lives through the daily inspiration, entertainment and information that makes me feel so happy and satisfied.
How can other companies better support their female leadership and make steps to place women in leadership?
Companies need to diversify management by hiring talented women for leadership roles and fostering their growth to move up the ladder. Celebrate their backgrounds, strengths and accomplishments and provide professional development support. We must close the gender pay gap and offer a flexible work environment. Women play multiple roles in the office and at home, and by allowing a flexible work environment, they can balance and navigate their roles inside and outside the workplace.
What advice do you have for other aspiring female leaders?
One of my favorite sayings is “nothing worth having comes easy.” I know this is true as I reflect on my life. Work hard, stay true to who you are by never losing sight of what really matters. And finally, as women, we often second guess ourselves … Should I, or shouldn’t I? Don’t. Follow your intuition, have confidence in yourself and your abilities, trust your instincts, take a deep breath and go for what you want!
Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.
Erica Jensen is senior SVP, Chief Communications Officer at Dotdash Meredith, the largest digital and print publisher in America. Jensen oversees communications strategy for corporate and brand public relations, employee communications and community and government relations. She is a native Iowan with a strong connection to Dotdash Meredith's brands.