Senior Vice President of Hennessy, US LVMH
To me, a “power woman” is someone committed to giving her all to the most important aspects of her life.
In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?
To me, a “power woman” is someone committed to giving her all to the most important aspects of her life. Whether that be career, family, friends, passions, mentorship, or the causes she supports – she is a person who is steadfast about living a fully real
Do you believe that there is any gender specific role for women to play in the Covid-19 pandemic?
Women had to play multiple roles during the pandemic. Working mothers, in particular, were juggling work life and learning the new WFH culture, while continuing to provide for their families, take care of their children, guide them through virtual learnin
Do you believe the response to the Covid-19 pandemic highlights & emphasizes the natural resilience of women?
Yes, it further emphasizes all that women can do. That we are truly capable of anything. I’ve watched my colleagues, who are amazing mothers, balance leading their teams during these unknown times while also caring for their children and being attentive partners through it all.
With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?
The pursuit of gender equality is a daily action in my mind. There are many complexities tied to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we must be conscious and intentional each day. For me, that looks like raising other women up around me, forming and participating in groups that carve out a safe place to open up – or to simply listen and learn, pushing for a diverse pipeline of talent when recruiting on my teams, and from a personal POV – being clear and vocal about what my goals and aspirations are. Gender equality is a global issue, but it can start on our own teams, in our own companies and can become a movement that is pervasive and begins to spread around the world.
What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward empowering women and gender equality? (e.g. affirmative action)?
Inclusivity, diversity and equality is hard, emotional work that requires courage, conviction, and endurance. The most important thing we as a society can do in empowering women and achieving gender equality is to learn. Learn and listen before acting against preconceived notions or possible biases. You have to learn how to unlearn and re-learn, and as you understand what women today in your circles and organizations need to do their jobs well, then put your money where your mouth is and invest. It’s not enough to say you support gender equality if your payroll, or your gender breakdown of employees, or the marketing and advertising of your product/services, don’t reflect that commitment.
Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?
While I do not have a specific story to share, throughout my career I’ve always felt the need to over deliver because I’m a Black woman. There is often the initial skepticism I see in the faces of others when it’s discovered that I am the leader of a specific team or brand. And it’s that skepticism, in addition to my own desire to deliver with excellence, that pushes me to eradicate it. Because in doing so, I’m not only reinforcing why I’ve been in the roles I’ve been in, but also hopefully paving the way for the next Black woman to not have to encounter the same degree of skepticism I’ve had to.
Do you think that asking previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between women and men? Should we push for a nationwide ban?
I don’t believe in asking for previous salary history in any circumstance. A new role requires a new level of effort and expertise for anyone applying for it. The salary should be a based on the intersection of what that role requires and the selected person’s requisite experience and capability. A backward-looking view of one’s salary history is not indicative of what the forward-looking approach to pay should be.
There are many studies that support the idea that a female presence in the board room increases the bottom line and leads to healthier work environments. What can we do to continue to support and enhance the growth and presence of women in high profile positions?
I’m proud that Moët Hennessy is dedicated to increasing the presence of women in its leadership. Currently, half of the Moët Hennessy USA leadership team is made up of female executives. This kind of representation is the result of hard work over time and a true commitment from leadership to invest in what they believe is not only right, but productive and beneficial to the organization.
I also believe it’s important to ensure that the next generation of leaders are equipped with the resources, mentorship, and career development support they need to achieve success. Through our partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), Hennessy is working to increase diversity and representation in executive leadership positions by helping cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.
Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?
I believe that I am the product of my upbringing. My parents were incredibly attentive, active, and supportive in the lives of my brothers and me. They instilled in me the belief that if I put my all into everything I do, good things will come from it. To quote Andre 3000 – they are truly “my prototype”. They were lifelong companions, having met when they were 14 and were together for 34 years until my father passed away in 2006. I watched them navigate life and raise a family as a unit. They were best friends and were committed to their bond and to ensuring their family was the best it could be. It’s that commitment and that fortitude I saw in my parents that resonated with me and has been the reason why I’ve made the choices I’ve made in both my personal and professional lives. Because I am the only daughter of Terry and Jacqueline Allen, and because of all they gave me, I am where I am today.
Have you seen changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?
It has been incredibly empowering to see the historic advancements of so many women who are pushing the limits of potential to break boundaries. Of course, we look at the ceiling-shattering odyssey of the first Black and South Asian American Madam Vice President. Her story represents many firsts and inspires the next generation of young women who are striving for greatness. Earlier this year, my team was proud to pay tribute to this legacy and celebrate the accomplishments of all trailblazing women with a commemorative cocktail kit. Hennessy also pledged an additional monetary donation to our long-term partner, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), in support of the advancement of Black women into the C-Suite to help bring their unique perspectives to the table.
Is “Education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If so, why is it prohibitively expensive? If not, why not?
Our Hennessy Fellows program, introduced in 2019, is a first-ever corporate Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) graduate program developed in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). TMCF is the pre-eminent national organization dedicated to promoting educational excellence among students attending HBCUs.
The mission of the Hennessy Fellows program is to provide HBCU graduates with the tools they need to ascend the corporate ranks and enter the C-Suite. We are proud to have partnered with TMCF to prepare the next generation of workforce talent through financial resources, leadership, and skill development.
This is an example of the power of education. Education paves the way for progress, for achievement and for change. It is something we as a nation and as a world should be steadfastly committed to.
If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?
I would be a writer. I’m a big reader, and I’ve always admired a writer’s gift to craft stories that can impact people around the world. My dad was a passionate writer, so I feel I would be paying homage to him as well.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When I was in high school, I decided to run for Senior Class President. There had never been a Black Senior Class President at my school. My father said to me, “Jasmin just because there’s never been doesn’t mean there can’t be.” I am proud that I was able to win the race and become the first Black Senior Class President. And I think this advice from my father sums up my approach to being a Black woman who aspires to ascend. I believe that what may have been status quo in the past doesn’t have to be in the future. And every step I take towards achieving my career goals is a step taken for every Black woman as well.
What is your favorite book (fiction or nonfiction)?
The “A Song of Ice and Fire” series – which includes “Game of Thrones” – is my favorite collection of books I’ve ever read. I was both an avid book reader and follower of the TV series on HBO. In terms of a singular book, I’ve read many, many books in my life so it’s hard to pinpoint one. But one that sticks out is “An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones. It is a poignant depiction of marriage and family dynamics in the Black community that was beautifully written and really resonated with me.
What do you value most in your friends?
One of the greatest areas of fortune in my life is my friends. I’m lucky to have a group of friends that I’ve been close with for over 20 years. I also have a strong friend group from business school. What I value in my friends is their brilliance, their incredible advice, and most of all, their dedication to me and to the bond we share. Through every key moment in my life – whether good or bad – my friends have been right by my side. It is one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve been given.
Which trait do you most uncomfortable in yourself? In others?
As a high achiever who has pushed myself to strive for excellence since I was in Kindergarten, I can admit that my most uncomfortable trait is my struggle to unplug and exercise self-care. At times, it’s hard for me to reconcile the drive for success with allowing myself the space and grace to refuel and rejuvenate. This causes me discomfort because I know it’s important to prioritize self-care. I think women often feel the burden of not being able to let a single ball drop. So, we push ourselves to do it all. As I get farther along in my career, I’m beginning to understand that “doing it all” isn’t really the win. The win is doing your best and recognizing that the win is doing your best well, even if that means not doing it all. This is a trait that I’m committed to being better about embracing.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Listening. There is power in being an active listener. Someone who listens to digest and comprehend vs. listens only long enough to immediately jump in and speak – there is power in that.