Meet Jamee Hawn, Business Solutions, Financial Services & Insurance at Tesla
What motivates and inspires you as a professional woman?
Being part of a dynamic, innovative organization over the last seven years has exposed me to working with uniquely talented individuals and has created an environment where I feel motivated and inspired to challenge myself outside of my prescribed mindset and role. There’s a reward in confirming mastery of material or a process, but my drive comes from creation and development of new projects or ventures. The opportunity to identify and build a solution, to develop a fast response with positive outcomes, to approach a new project with minimal resources, those are the challenges that push me forward and keep me engaged.
Have you ever encountered challenges in your role based on your gender and how did you overcome them?
Working for an automotive company in a financial services and insurance role, and managing the Asia-Pacific region has consistently exposed me to the challenges surrounding gender-bias in the industry and region. The most effective way to overcome those challenges is to focus on professional execution and delivery. Daily casual occurrences can be called out with grace; few people act with the intention of bias. Simply letting them know of a misstep is often enough to deter further behavior, especially when done with just the right level of sass. Be polite, be professional, and focus on the result.
You have worked in the US, Europe and Asia, and in government and the private sector. What positive impacts have these experiences and cultures had on your career? How have they helped you improve and grow professionally?
Exposure to other cultures and environments allows for a well-developed and uniquely positioned “global citizen.” Having worked in different cultures allows fresh perspective on how to fix problems – when you can shift and view the issue from a different angle. The ability to become a chameleon and blend into your immediate surroundings ultimately results in better survival and stronger relationships.
Do you have any tips on tackling a male dominated workplace?
Don’t get caught up in distractions; call out the concern and carry on. Everyone respects competency. I firmly believe you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so whatever needs to be addressed can be handled with poise and then return to the task at hand. However, never underestimate the strength of wit wrapped up in a sassy response.
What advice would you give companies looking to attract and retain smart, ambitious, female talent?
Everything comes down to creating a stand-up culture. There’s no place for gender bias, only earnest collaboration with open and direct communication. I believe in addressing issues openly and making examples for all to create awareness. Don’t assume anything for someone else; we don’t know preferences or abilities until asked.
Is there a specific experience that has helped to shape you?
I have a rule of five when it comes to my professional life: a high-energy, fast-paced, people-focused role that allows for creativity and exploration. During my government work, I was asked to edit my resume to remove a non-traditional job I held during my time at UCLA. I realized I did not want to work for an organization limited in how they valued a person’s contribution or abilities, and have since found real joy in working with colleagues of extremely diverse backgrounds.
A Marine veteran who is now a senior law-enforcement officer in Orange County, California, where I’m from, shared a story with me the day we met and identified our strong personalities as both our best and most challenging tool. She asked me to identify my favorite meal, one I would never turn down and always love to eat. Let’s take macaroni and cheese; regardless of how it’s prepared, I will eat it. Added Bacon? Crab? Hot Sauce? Boxed Kraft or home-made? I’ll eat it. Then she asked if I would eat the dish if it was served on a heavily used trash can lid. My physical reaction to the question was clear: absolutely not. This, she said, is key: the information we want to dispense, whether it be to a spouse or a business partner, is less about what we say but how we present. The vessel is important because you could have the right answer or creative approach, but if your delivery is off, no one will accept your offer. Offer up your contribution on silver platters, not trash can lids.
When approaching anything in life, I reflect on a motto from my boss: you should always be nervous or excited. If you aren’t one of those two, get out.
A few years after graduating from UCLA, an indirect manager told me to try to blend in and not stand out too much because tall poppies get cut down. I like being a tall poppy and now only work in environments where I am valued and can lead due to being a tall poppy.
Do you have a motto for how you live your life?
Laugh loudly and often.