When Jen Wong (MBA 2004) joined Time Inc. as president of digital operations in 2016, the internet cheered. With stints at AOL and PopSugar, Wong was a respected veteran of the young digital media industry, and her hire signaled the company’s commitment to a multiplatform future. More evidence: Less than a year later, new Time Inc. CEO Rich Battista (MBA 1990) asked Wong to add COO to her title.
Time was “a touchstone” of Wong’s Long Island childhood, but the newsweekly is just one part of the company’s story, she says. “Time Inc. is a radically different place than most people know. It’s got all the elements that are necessary to be successful in the digital media world.”
Back to her roots: “The early part of my career was doing quantitative work, but I had always had a personal passion for media and creative businesses. I worked for a record label in college.”
First things first: “I wake up, read the news, and then check my traffic and see what’s happening on the Time Inc. sites.”
News sources: “I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Apple News all the time.”
Print indulgence: Reading People magazine, a ritual from her time as a management consultant. “It’s Thursday afternoon. You are going home from your client. You go to the airport. You pick up your People. The week is ending. Best feeling in the world.”
Reinvention: “The folks who have worked at Time Inc. for a long time, they have incredible institutional knowledge. Then you infuse that with new DNA from folks who have worked at pure-play digital companies. Both love the brand equally, but they have different ideas about what is possible for the brand.”
The bleeding edge: “Is a place every company should want to be. Selectively. For example, Time Inc. launched a virtual reality app and went straight to the front of the line in VR.”
Take the meeting: “I spend a fair amount of time talking to new early-stage companies that have interesting technologies we want to test. Some of these start off small, and then two years later you’ve had a dialogue with a company that becomes a multibillion-dollar company.”
The uniform: “Jeans and sneakers. That is my daily outfit.” She has six pairs of Vans in a variety of colors.
One-on-one: “I’m on Slack a lot. I use it to go to the person I know who is exactly the right person to have a particular conversation with and to have a dialogue across different strata of the company.”
Sectionmates still remember: The section auction. “I made a warthog out of Rice Krispies Treats. I love projects, and I was pretty proud of that.”
What’s next: “For Time Inc., expect to see more big, deep plays in native advertising, data, and video and OTT [delivery of video and other content via the internet]. That’s where we’ll be spending a lot of time. For me personally, I’ll be right there alongside those things. That’s what I get excited about.”
(photo by JJ Sulin)
Class of MBA 2004, Section I