ASUG Women Connect: In the Driver’s Seat

Jennifer Jao
Jennifer Jao in ASUG Women Connect September 14, 2019

All of us are on a journey with dreams of making positive impacts in life. Throughout the journey, there will be a mixture of cheers of happiness and tears of disappointment. How we navigate through all of that, while helping each other along the way, will lead to a better experience on that journey.

My name is Jennifer Jao and I am part of a great team that is transforming business processes with ERP. While I try to do better every day, I am far from perfect, and that’s OK.

Picture Perfect

Our fascination with wanting to be perfect isn’t new. In fact, it starts from a young age and manifests into everything we do in adulthood. I grew up wanting to be the perfect daughter, sister, friend, colleague, and eventually, the perfect wife and mother. I’ve found that this experience isn’t unique to me.

Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, did a Ted Talk where she talks about how, “we're raising our girls to be perfect, and we're raising our boys to be brave.”

We need to break that mold and shift that mindset. Because this is what often happens—before girls and women act on something, we stop short at, “I’m not good enough to do this.” The picture will never be perfect, so we need to change that little voice to say, “be brave and try it.”

Taking the Driver’s Seat

It’s important to understand that we are making choices every minute of our day. Whether it’s to get out of bed and brush our teeth or it’s to take on a project and deliver it. We are in the driver’s seat. We are in control of how fast we are going, which turns we make, and when we stop. So why not apply that mentality to our professional life, too? At the end of the day we need to take ownership of our success and path toward it. Celebrate the successes and failures throughout your journey.

I started my career at Toyota right out of college. After gaining experience within different functions such as supply chain, project management, and new plant startup, I wanted more. I sought out an opportunity to rotate to the IT department. This opportunity didn’t appear without asking myself the hard question of, “What can I do to bring more value to what I am currently doing?” It’s not always about hitting the next business milestone, as much as it is about being brave and enjoying the journey.

Enjoy the Ride

I have stressed the importance of taking charge of our own career paths. I’ve talked about taking risks and being brave, as well as challenging us to think outside the box. It is equally important to surround ourselves with others who take the driver seat, as well as understand how our decisions affect those who don’t, and contribute in different ways. We don’t always know where our journey will take us. We must continue to navigate with the intention of making positive impacts. Start our impossible. Hope to see you all on the road with me!

If you’re planning to attend Best Practices for Automotive, Oct. 7–8 in Detroit, mark your calendars for the ASUG Women Connect Luncheon featuring Jennifer Jao, Melika Jahangiri, director of growth at Ridecell Inc., Kristin Welch, venture pipeline at Ford X, Deborah Powers, senior director of digital global functions at HARMAN International Industries, and Cheryl Parsons, CMO of ASUG on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

If you or someone you know has something to say about the work you’re doing, your accomplishments, or how other women have helped you on your journey, submit your idea or reach out to Find out how to get involved with ASUG Women Connect year round.