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Women in Industry: Jennifer McDermott

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Since 1921, Virginia Tech has seen thousands of trailblazing women make their mark on the world, transforming industries and shattering glass ceilings. Jennifer McDermott ’96 is making her mark in the technology industry where she’s serves as the executive director of global technology workforce strategy at JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

"It was really fun. Yeah." When Jennifer McDermott graduated from Virginia Tech's Pamplin College of Business in 1996, she carried with her skills she still uses today. "I loved Virginia Tech. I had a great four years, made really good friends, but also a lot of skills, that I needed that stuck with me through to today." Jennifer says one of the lessons she's learned as Executive Director of Global Technology Workforce Strategy at JP Morgan Chase is the importance of failing fast. "We celebrate failing fast. If it's not going to work out, realize it, admit it, and move on. Learn from that. So if you aren't having failures, you're not really taking the right chances. You're not learning from that." When it comes to learning, Jennifer recalls Virginia Tech teaching her the value in continuous learning. "Everything is constantly changing. So if you think that what I graduated with as a finance major of Virginia Tech is everything I need and I don't need to continuously learn, then I'm missing out on a lot of opportunities. But what helped me at Virginia Tech was learning how to learn, learning how to become curious, and then taking that with me for the rest of my career." Jennifer and her company support programs like Tech Connect, in which they invest in employees interested in becoming software engineers through training. They also invest in the next generation of diverse tech leaders, hiring candidates with different backgrounds and experiences. "We have a program called Tech Connect, which is for university students that did not study computer science or computer engineering, but they have a passion and interest in technology. And if we see that grit and determination and curiosity, we will bring them in, hire them, train them, make that investment upfront, and then put them into their roles as software engineers. And we would like to focus on building an inclusive pipeline through that. So those diverse perspectives by studying something else, really helps make it more innovative, creative solution. At the end of the day."