Name: Kate Jennison
Job Title and Description: Director of People at Tilt
College Name/Major: The University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Major in International Studies, Minor in Theatre
What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Kate Jennison: Day to day, I am responsible for creating an environment where people come alive. People at Tilt want to understand themselves and the world better, so they can help influence transformational change. I spend my time brainstorming new ideas to foster play and connection, building tools to support our culture of self-driven development and connecting with people across our team on projects that cultivate our culture. I get to drive fun initiatives like our anniversary plane ticket around the world and Gratitude Day, where employees take the day off and $250 to thank someone in their life. I also conduct team lead trainings and employee workshops several times a month to educate our team on how we can help each other grow, lead and create.
What is the best part of your job?
KJ: Seeing people do things that they never thought possible. I love that moment in their eyes when they shift their perspective on themselves and tap into a whole new level of potential. I experience this during one-on-one development sessions, workshops and trainings with my team.
What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
KJ: Human resources as a function includes a broad range of areas: compliance, compensation, safety, learning and development, culture cultivation, etc. I wish that I had known there were roles that solely focused on people development, leadership development and coaching. If I could go back in time, I would have actively networked with people working in HR and better understood the realm of possibilities.
What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
KJ: I tried to plan and control every step of my life. The one thing that you can guarantee is that life is uncertain. If you pour your energy into building a plan and trying to stick to it, you’re guaranteed to be frustrated.
I personally made this mistake. When I was graduating college, I was paralyzed by the fact that I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was full of anxiety—trying to make a plan and beating myself up when I didn’t have the answer. It took several years for me to learn that by valuing uncertainty, I opened myself up to possibility. The second I started “flowing” with life, remarkable experiences and people came into my life. I moved to Sydney, Australia, traveled the world for seven months and discovered a dream opportunity at Tilt. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t fully embraced uncertainty.
Trust the universe has your back. You don’t know the big picture. Things won’t happen on your time or schedule, but they may be better than you could have ever imagined. Stay in the present, intentionally make time for learning about yourself and the rest will fall into place.
What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?
KJ: I haven’t had one big “surreal” moment; however, some of the best moments have happened when I didn’t listen to people around me and trusted myself. When I decided to move to Australia, everyone told me that I was nuts and that it was impossible to get a job there. I followed my gut and went for it. I applied for a People Leader role at Apple in Sydney. I got the job and moved there without ever having visited the country. I spent my days off exploring unbelievable nature and my days working appreciating the nuances of different cultures. I will forever cherish my two years working there.
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?
KJ: If I took a photograph of your thoughts throughout the day and blew it up in an art exhibit downtown, would you be proud?
If not, than change it. It took me a long time to realize that nothing in the world (good or bad) has value, only the value I give it. And that my thoughts drive my experience in life.
You are what you think. Start shifting your mindset and beautiful things will happen. Your whole life will change.
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
KJ: People serve the world when they commit to authentically expressing themselves and practice active self-compassion.
Get lost in doing things that you love, and explore the world. Don’t worry about what “you should be doing” or filling out your resume. In my opinion, conventional steps to career paths often leave you unfulfilled. Pursue things that fascinate you and make you lose a sense of time. Take a year off and travel. Do the thing that scares you. You’ll find out things about yourself that you never would have.