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An Interview with Jeanne Jackson

“The need to make money was a very straightforward motivation. It may not sound the most inspiring reason, but it was the real one.”What motivated her relentless dedication to her career? Jackson acknowledges that “though it sounds trite”, it was the need to make money. “I remember the day when had enough money in the bank to decide whether both of us needed to work. If you don’t grow up that way, I don’t know that you can relate. There just wasn’t a choice.” On managing two professional careers and having children, Jackson admits that she never considered having her husband or herself stay at home to raise the children. “Don’t get me wrong - he has a totally alpha profession”, she says of her airline pilot husband. “But it’s in a different way”. Ultimately, both have managed to balance careers with a family life though the help of daycare and nannies. And as for how they met? “He arrested me”, she says - with an entirely deadpan expression. In fact it’s entirely true: she met her husband when he, a 26-year old security guard, stopped her, a 31-year old executive, from entering the office of Federated Department Stores without a security pass. Jackson believes that Sheryl Sandberg “nails it” when she argues that a partner must truly be a partner in every sense, and that a couple must be built on a foundation of shared values. Jackson has seen a few cases of so-called “power couples,” but finds that there is “always a compromise somewhere.” In short, don’t marry someone because you think you can change them. People don’t really change and it will only lead to angst. With Jackson’s keynote address down, and our interview time taken, Jackson’s phone was ringing. Despite approaching retirement, and stepping down from the boards of Nike, Nordstrom, Harrah, Williams-Sonoma, Motorola, CRS, West Marine, and the United States Navy Exchange, Jackson is clearly still moving near full throttle. The hard work that was evident in Jackson as a child is still evident now. I wholeheartedly agree with her: people don’t really change.
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