"With so much uncertainty and ambiguity today, Mauer stresses the importance of giving the tools people need to get to where they need to go and that 'you must have guts and courage to be a leader and a trusted advisor.'”

Speaking with Jennifer Mauer is comfortable and familiar. She is kind, confident, and calm. It’s clear when she says, “we are always becoming the leaders that we will become and there is always something you can take away,” that Mauer has a keen self-awareness.

With a unique upbringing, her frequent change of locations and time zones helped her to learn the core values of empathy, empowerment, and curiosity that she exhibits as a successful leader today as the Head of Enterprise Transformation and Change Strategic Communications at Bristol-Myers Squibb.

She was born in Minnesota and lived in Georgia, Connecticut, Paris, and Tokyo. Moving around taught her to be adaptable and to stay calm. Notably, her childhood experiences encouraged her to embrace change as an opportunity for growth—to always say “yes.”

Every summer, she worked at her family store. Her grandmother ran the store and believed that “every job counts, no matter how big or small.” So Mauer made sure she gave each job her all, whether it was sweeping the floor, wrapping gifts, or running the cash register.

“Each of us can look at different points in our upbringing and history and pinpoint exactly where we got our values from,” Mauer says. Her experiences at the family store shaped her strong work ethic and, even now, she doggedly maintains that no job is too small.

With so much uncertainty and ambiguity today due to the political and social environment, the biggest challenge Mauer perceives is to inspire and empower people around her in order to all be working in one direction.

She stresses the importance of giving the tools people need to get to where they need to go and that “you must have guts and courage to be a leader and a trusted advisor.”

Mauer has had many roles in her career. One, in particular, she recalls felt like a big leap. She remembers a card that was sent to her during this process, stating, “life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.” She took the job and continues to charge ahead taking on new experiences.

She has been fortunate to learn from those before her and feels very passionate about paying that forward in being there for people to talk to—opening doors for and being a champion for others. She does this particularly for people on her team, but it extends well beyond that.

Mauer has two daughters who have been working with a group that builds schools in Guatemala from the time they were ages 3 and 5. She hopes her girls learn to appreciate what they have and to do more—like she did as a child working in her grandmother’s store. This is an example of her philosophy to “meet someone where they are.” They are encouraged at a young age to do something they are able to, and they have found a way to give back.

Building schools in Guatemala is one of the things Mauer says she is most proud of. Noting that “when you have so much, when you can, you should do more.” Mauer also shares her family’s key values of working hard, trying your best, and finding a way to give back.

Mauer seeks to constantly learn from people around her—from her peers and her team. She is fascinated by learning from people who do things she doesn’t know much about. A constant curiosity and passion to learn is what continues to help her evolve as a leader.

Leaders in communications touch all aspects of the company. With a background as a reporter, life coach, and consultant, Mauer has acquired skills to help people discover what’s amazing about themselves, and she encourages them to be curious and ask questions.

She is passionate about caring for others and having integrity. Her dad once said that, “in the end, all you have is your integrity. That is the highest value I have.” Mauer’s integrity is unwavering, and she has never let herself get into a situation where her integrity would be compromised. She has also passed this virtue on to her children.

While Mauer believes strongly in the importance of good leadership, she also stresses the importance of culture. Paying attention to company culture is critical. With so much complexity and ambiguity in the environment in which a leader operates, it is important to have an inspiring and empowering culture so that everyone knows where they’re going and to give them the tools to get there.

“I was a journalist, who became a consultant, who got an MBA and became a life coach. I pull from these varied experiences constantly as a communicator,” Mauer says. She says one of her greatest accomplishments is helping others do the same.

When you talk to Mauer, you can tell immediately that she is up for anything and has a true sense of passion for what she does.

Fast Facts

Location Princeton, NJ
Number of Employees 24,000
Number of Years in Current Role 1.5 years
Previous Experience Several executive and director-level positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb; PR agency guru; life coach; McKinsey consultant; financial services reporter; and a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.
First Job Present wrapper in Gram’s hardware store—a good lesson in how to handle pressure, especially during the holiday season!
Leader She Admires Most There are so many leaders I admire. Right now at the top of my list is Maril MacDonald. I admire the amazing company that she has built and the culture she has cultivated there. My favorite quote of hers is, “When in doubt, do the loving thing. And sometimes the loving thing isn’t what you first think it is.” That is just a great principle in work and in life.

Interviewed by Lauren Sullivan and Amy Strope.