College of Business

Snapchat VP brings her perspective to C-Suite Speaker series

by Stephen Briggs

C-Suite Speaker - Jennifer Park Stout - 2020

Above: Jennifer Stout ('98) engages with her audience during the C-Suite Speaker series

The popular CoB C-Suite Speaker series resumed recently with a visit from Jennifer Stout (‘98), who is currently the Vice President of Global Public Policy and head of the Washington, D.C. office of Snap Inc., maker of the camera application Snapchat. Drawing from her decades of experience in both the governmental and private sectors, she shared with students and faculty wisdom gleaned from her successes and setbacks, in a career that includes some very high-profile positions.

Stout’s journey at JMU began as a business student, where she tried several majors and struggled before switching her major to political science, something she was passionate about, though she kept a business minor. This passion eventually led her to positions in Obama’s White House, and work in the office of Secretary of State John Kerry. “I never could have planned for that career, honestly,” Stout said. “I really learned some valuable life skills, like courage, and failure and resilience.”

In striving for success, she advised the audience to “be good,” which she characterized as “operating with integrity, cultivating respect and showing respect to people at all levels,” and also to “be ready,” which she said is “looking out for new opportunities to grow, having an insatiable appetite to learn and being prepared to take risks.” 

“Never get too comfortable,” she added, “transition is constant. Make the most of your time now and be prepared for change to happen at any moment.”

 A member of the Madison Center for Civic Engagement’s Advisory Council, Stout is understandably proud of the civic engagement that Snapchat has undertaken. “Snapchat’s role and approach to civic engagement is decidedly non-partisan. We don't take sides,” she pointed out. “Our focus is on helping our users engage in democratic elections, awareness, registration, voter participation, and voter education.”

To that end, Snapchat announced they had helped some 425,000 users to register to vote during the last mid-term election, and followed that with a map feature that helped 1.4 million users find their polling place on election day. Stout sees this level of corporate civic engagement as the new norm. “This is happening all across corporate America, she said, “There is a coming together of corporate interests and social interests.”

Stout closed her discussion by advising students to follow their passions, and get involved in civic engagement. “Pursue what you love and look for ways to make an impact no matter how big or how small,” she noted. “Are you working on issues that actually matter to you? Whether that be climate change, refugee or immigration issues, or access to education; use your voice to shape what that future is for your community, your state and your country. There's never been a more consequential time. So encourage your friends to get out there and have their voice too.”

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Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Last Updated: Thursday, February 13, 2020

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