I’m a VP Leading a Global Team: Here’s My Best Advice for Supporting Employees During the Pandemic

Sponsored by Netskope

Jenefer Chin

Photo courtesy of Netskope.

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“I welcome each day with anticipation of opportunities and surprises to come,” says Jenefer Chin, the VP and corporate controller at Netskope, Inc. As the corporate controller, Chin oversees the company’s global accounting operations and financial reporting. Her priorities lie in everything from producing timely and reliable financial data to facilitating strategic conversations and making day-to-day business decisions for the leadership team.

And her job is full of opportunities and surprises indeed — especially as the workforce navigates pandemic times. 

“I have been managing and leading a global team for several years, even before the pandemic, and video-conferencing by far has been the primary communication channel with my international teams,” she says, discussing the many ways she’s had to lead through uncertainty. “I have, however, been conducting more check-ins with every one of my team members to find out, without unduly intruding into their privacy, how they are coping with the challenges that the pandemic has imposed on them, such as their family relationships and their mental, emotional and physical well-being. Extra attention is warranted for team members who live in countries with very restrictive pandemic rules that have rendered them practically with a non-existent social life.”

She says that it’s necessary to accept that change and uncertainty are constant.

“Being agile and being able to adapt while helping our team members who may be struggling through the continuing motion of change is how we will thrive,” she adds. “Besides, some crises and uncertainties are actually opportunities. Considering my company’s commodity is security products, uncertainty is opportunity! If we have what it takes to lead, then it is just a matter of executing — crisis or no crisis.”

Here, we talk more with her on exactly how her team does that executing. She also describes what her typical days look like, as well as the strategies she’s used to lead, motivate and manage.

Paint a picture of a typical day for me. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep?

I generally need coffee to start my day off and help me get through a long, intense day. My workday typically starts at 8:30 a.m., when I log on for the first of many video conference meetings with my team. Currently, I do no less than a dozen virtual meetings covering different topics and agendas with my team and management every day.

I typically finish the day with the following: I reflect on things that could have or should have gone wrong but didn’t, and I count them as blessings along with something that went right. I also talk on the phone or text with my family and friends often about mundane things, and I take time to play with my four cute and playful dogs. All these activities help me de-stress and ensure I have a restful sleep at night.

What strategies have you used that have been most effective in promoting connectivity across your team?

One of my favorite things to do is have virtual happy hours with my team members. It is a way of being together without being physically around each other. It is safe, fun and it is de-stressing; plus, it’s very economical and convenient, and it promotes excellent camaraderie as we get to know each other more. 

When logistically permissible, I like to take my team members out for impromptu social lunch outings, which are always a big hit for everyone because who doesn’t like good food and fun?

Across industries, reports show that women are experiencing increasing levels of burnout. How do you keep your employees motivated?

I think all of us — men and women, adults and children — are experiencing rising levels of burnout and stress during these times. Many of us also work in a high-growth business so we need to be incredibly focused on prioritization. It’s easier to be motivated when everyone is clear on what role they need to play to get to the end goal. I am very mindful that all my team members must possess what they need to succeed, such as having the best, most effective systems and tools and setting out clear goals and objectives.

Besides having my team equipped with the best equipment to perform their tasks, it is also important that the correct environment is in place, and this includes having good leadership to guide them to the goal and vision of the company. Employees can be disillusioned fast and will no longer share the passion for the company’s goals and vision if leadership is lacking.

Bottom line: If the workplace is exciting or if the reward of the work is exciting, then burnout and boredom are warded off.

What resources or support has Netskope offered employees during the pandemic? 

At the outset of the pandemic, Netskope reacted quickly by providing allowances for employees to buy new home office equipment to help them adjust to their new remote-work environment. Our company also promptly rolled out sponsored programs such as virtual yoga, cooking demos, weekly meditations and quarterly wellness days off. 

How is this kind of support reflective of the overall culture at Netskope? 

Our employees are the biggest asset of Netskope. Netskope continues to conduct surveys to ensure that every one of us stays safe, healthy and productive. 

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a leader during this time?

Even with cloud-based interactions making remote-based work more productive, it still can’t beat the efficiency of in-office collaboration. Going over excel worksheets in person is less cumbersome than relaying the same information over a Zoom meeting and sharing a screen.

What is your favorite way to destress outside of work? 

There are a few ways I enjoy destressing outside of work:

  • I love wining and dining with my closest friends. This is my therapy, and we are lucky to live in an area with beautiful wineries and vineyards nearby.

  • I often work out with my good friend and trainer, who helps me keep my heart healthy.

  • Playing and walking my dogs is enjoyable and de-stressing for me.

  • And on the weekends, I pretend to be a cross between Ina Garten and Martha Stewart baking and cooking for my family and friends. 


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