Jennifer Burns
Senior Director and Head of Talent Brand at Discover Financial Services

Knotch connected with Jennifer Burns, Senior Director and Head of Talent Brand at Discover Financial Services for our "Own Your Voice" series to hear her story, and to learn what drives Jennifer in her career.

Where did your story begin?

My story began in college. I was focused on getting into law or labor relations, but after taking a marketing class required for my college minor, I was hooked on the creative process. I decided to do an internship that summer at an ad agency to see if it was just a crush or love - turns out it was love. Learning to write a creative brief, doing consumer research, and negotiating with designers was exactly the right place for me.

What was a pivotal life moment where your story changed?

I had my “Mad Men” moment in my last semester of college. I flew to New York and pounded the pavement (in heels); I was walking up and down Madison Avenue from ad agency to ad agency to drop off my resume.  I was not going to leave that city without a job. Turns out the Head of HR at Grey happened to be at the reception desk. She was impressed by my gumption and interviewed me - she then hired me on the spot. 

Who made the biggest impact on your story?

The President of BBDO made the biggest impact on my story when I decided to resign from the agency for a client-side job.  He asked me up to his office on the executive floor and asked why I wanted to leave.  In that conversation he countered me with almost double the salary I was currently making and much more than my brand marketing role offered.  I was 28 and I realized how undervalued I had been for the 5 years I was there and what a great decision I was making to leave. I was going to be in the driver's seat leading brand strategy versus sitting in the back.

What’s an unpopular opinion you have about content?

People are interested in a brand’s POV, and their stance on the causes that matter to their company. They should boldly share those stories and be less concerned about turning off customers with a strong POV and more concerned about not having a POV at all.  It’s in the absence of convictions that brands can lose people.

If you could define your story using one sentence, what would that sentence be?

When passion fuels you, your feet won’t touch the ground.


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