As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Jeanniey Walden.
Jeanniey Walden is the Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer at DailyPay, an award-winning, recognized gold-standard on-demand pay platform offering comprehensive pay experience solutions to world-class companies and their millions of employees.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I was originally planning to become a teacher because I wanted to work towards finding creative ways to inspire children and youth to flourish. I attended the University of Pittsburgh where I received my bachelor’s degree in psychology and my master’s in education. Upon graduation, there weren’t any teaching jobs available. Because of this, I had to expose myself to other opportunities and ultimately ended up working part-time at JCPenny. Under their mentorship, I gained new skills and found a new passion for a completely new path ahead of me. While there, I was promoted to a marketing role where my job was to find a way to impress and attract potential customers. I didn’t realize it then, but this opportunity was just the starting point of my marketing career. As my career evolved, I grew a real passion for using digital media as a platform to drive positive customer behavior and pretty soon developed a unique skill set that enabled me to serve several Fortune 100 businesses.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I joined DailyPay in July 2019. At the time, the company was on the rise, in regards to funding and their innovations. The company’s brand identity was pretty visually comparable to others in the industry — we were entirely reliant on our products to set us apart, which they did. As we became the leader in the financial technology space and found ourselves expanding beyond on-demand pay, it was time for a visual recharge. In 2021, I took the DailyPay team through an entire rebrand. We implemented a new logo, font, color scheme, and visual identifiers that can support our product and overall brand. This was a pivotal moment for DailyPay and I am proud to have led the company through the rebranding process.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Absolutely, here’s a story that I often share about my time during my earlier career as an up-and-coming marketing executive. I was just transferred to the corporate office of a larger retailer and had a meeting with the CFO. This felt like the biggest meeting of my life.
The night before I chose my outfit very specifically, a navy blue pencil skirt and a silk blouse. I thought, “I am going to look professional and perfect!”
The next morning I woke up early and headed to the gym before work as usual. At this point, it’s 7am, I’m at the gym, and my meeting starts at 8am. As I started getting dressed, I realized my blouse was see-through — and no, my hair is not long enough to help me out.
I thought to myself, “do I pretend to be sick? Do I not show up? Do I ask to borrow someone else’s top?” UGH!!!
I decided to go to the meeting. When I arrived at the office, I asked my coworker if I could borrow her sweater. After all, I made it to the meeting and my marketing career was still on track.
Lesson learned? So many that apply to great marketing:
- Details matter! Always check for details.
- Have a backup plan if things go awry.
- Smile through it all and don’t sweat the small stuff.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My boss at JCPenny was the first mentor in my life who really helped me shape my career. To this day, I’m incredibly grateful for her support. While this could have been a temporary job, she encouraged me to take on different roles and helped me step foot into JCPenney’s corporate office. Through this corporate job, I gained the foundational business skills and found my love for marketing, which has taken me this far in my career.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high-stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
When I’m preparing for a high-stakes meeting, I always prepare for the worst possible scenario. That includes tough questions and unexpected discussions. Another thing I am keen on is researching and being over-prepared. No one has ever been ridiculed for being over-prepared, but they have for being underprepared. Always put your best foot forward, especially when things are high-stakes.
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality, and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
It is critical for all businesses and organizations to hold themselves accountable and have a diverse executive team. Diversity comes in all facets: age, race, gender, skill sets, and so many more. A study from DailyPay reveals that 63% of Americans say that having female leaders in a company is good for business and 60% of those surveyed say diversity in company leadership is important when deciding on where to apply for a job.
DailyPay takes pride in prioritizing diversity and inclusion. #WeWinWithDiversity is one of our core values that is factored into every business decision we make. DailyPay boasts a number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that support employees by offering interactive activities while cultivating diversity, equity, and inclusion. In 2020, DailyPay created its first Diversity Leadership Committee, which consists of exceptional DailyPay members who want to share their insights and create an open culture here at DailyPay. The committee is dedicated to establishing practices for future generations and works with various teams at DailyPay. We also published a Workplace Diversity Survey, which sparked discussions around diversity, inclusion, equity, and racial justice.
DailyPay has been recognized in reputable publications like Patch and BuiltinNYC for its inclusive culture and diversity initiatives.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
Since day one of DailyPay, championing diversity and inclusion has been baked into our company’s DNA. As a business leader, it’s of utmost importance to ensure that our work culture is inclusive, representative, and equitable. This ties back to our core values. As I mentioned earlier, at DailyPay we boast a number of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs):
DailyPride was formed to promote a work environment that values and promotes openness, tolerance, and understanding. This group strives to strengthen and broaden relationships among LGBTQIA+ team members, their allies, and the organization at large through sustained, healthy, and supportive dialogue.
DailyNoire was formed to support an inclusive environment and be a resource and advocate for the employees at DailyPay, a part of the Black diaspora. The DailyNoire Employee Resource Group for African American/Black employees works to create an inclusive environment for all African American/Black employees at DailyPay via diverse initiatives, networking, cultural events, and social gatherings. The group’s goal is to bring awareness to African American/Black issues and to create an inclusive environment for employees and allies to thrive as professionals.
DailyWomen was formed to inspire, retain and advance talented women in the organization. In this group, we recognize, support, and celebrate one another, create a safe and open place for collaboration, exhibit care and concern for fellow members, and are dedicated to growing, learning, and stretching our boundaries.
DailyGray, our most recent addition, was formed to celebrate the benefits of wisdom and perspective that age and experience bring to our organization while giving back, inspiring others, and building generational relationships within our generational company. The group sparks dialogue around age and experience. Both those who are older and those who are younger contribute which enables the group to better understand and support each other. It also provides tools and ample growth opportunities to help those over the age of 50 in the company to achieve their goals, inside and outside the organization.
Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
The way a Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer’s role differs from other leaders’ roles is that as a CIMO you need to be able to see and identify the various functions of an organization. At the same time, you need to understand how they fit together holistically for the betterment of the overall company. This is something that we at DailyPay call “see the circle” — another one of our core values. Every DailyPayer is part of this bigger mission and we are all working towards the same goal. Regardless of what you’re working on, you have a circle of colleagues that surround you. Involve them early and often, because it will make us stronger.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive? Can you explain what you mean?
One myth that I would like to eliminate about being a CMO is that it’s “not data-driven” — it absolutely is! I’ve relied on data, metrics, and stats to deliver strategic marketing campaigns that have resulted in great wins for our company.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
In my opinion, there can be stigmas related to being a woman — being incapable of being a headstrong leader is one out of many stigmas. When I was younger, I struggled with being my authentic self in the workplace. I would hide the fact that I was a mom of two daughters, or my love for high heels and dressing up because I felt that it made me seem too feminine or weak. I was concerned with the fact that I might not have an equal stake at the table. So, one day I finally decided to go into the office as my authentic self — dressed in heels and feeling confident — and found that people, including my male counterparts, embraced me for who I am. I found that authenticity made me an even more effective leader. I try to approach every day with the same outlook: drive impact that makes the world a better place. In that vein, I have pushed myself to remain fearless knowing that I was able to take charge as an authentic female leader.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
The biggest difference between my actual job and how I thought it would be is how much the market changes. There is a lot of fluctuation in the on-demand pay and payroll space. This is why at DailyPay we invest time and energy in staying up to date with what’s happening in the market. In doing so, we position ourselves to have the ability to adjust and optimize our approach based on what’s happening today.
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive, and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
Yes. A person has limitless potential! The only thing stopping them from achieving it is their belief in themselves. Over my years in business, I have seen that there’s no skill you can’t learn if you put enough time and attention into it. Are some people born better leaders? Yes — but that doesn’t mean that if you’re the shy person in the corner you can’t find a way to be socially interesting to others… you absolutely can!
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
Never be afraid. Be bold and take the chance — no matter who you are, how old you are, or where that chance will lead you. Also, I heavily believe in mentorship. At DailyPay all of our interns are connected with a DailyPal. This is a buddy system that enables them to succeed and provides mentorship through their direct manager. Another great way to thrive as a woman leader is to connect with people in your desired industry. Simply shoot employees a LinkedIn message and ask them out on a virtual or physical coffee chat to learn the ins and outs of the on-demand pay industry. Search for networking opportunities to get your foot in the door and to network with other industry professionals.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
I believe in giving back to the community in the form of mentorship. After all, mentorship is what contributed to making me the leader I am today. I have been a mentor at Marketing EDGE. Around for over 55 years, Marketing EDGE is a mentorship program that has served more than 110,000 students to date.
Through the program, I work directly with students who are looking to get ahead and develop personal relationships, both inside the marketing community and across related fields. In doing so, we broaden students’ opportunities that drive career advancement; and by evolving to meet changing market needs.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I could inspire a movement it would be to support one another through generations. I’ve gained so much through mentorship and because of its value and impact in my personal life and professional life, I would do anything I can to offer the same level of support to younger generations. As we support one another, we uplift each other to do better. Let’s keep it going!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The secret is ‘AIR’- approach everything that you do in an Authentic Manner where you Inspire others and ensure they Relate to your audience. This is a life lesson quote that I created and live by. Anyone can practice AIR. I find that if you are bold, grateful, and yourself, success will chase after you.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
I used to say Coco Chanel but I watched the crown and I have to say, I’m a bit obsessed, and very much in awe of the Queen of England, the lifestyle she had to assume, and the decisions she needed to make along the way for her country. She inspires me in her quest to serve her country over her family. So, I would choose the Queen.