Jennifer Driscoll ’92 M.B.A. likens her love of both numbers and words to being able to see in both black and white and color. In a world where many people express a preference for either quantitative or communication skills, but rarely both, Driscoll has been able to make the two sets of skills an important part of her life. “I have been lucky,” she says. “For my whole career, I’ve done what I love.”
Driscoll graduated from the College of St. Catherine with a major in English and minors in promotional communications and business administration. The latter minor brought her frequently to St. Thomas, where she took many of her classes. Fresh out of college, she started her career as a journalist and, by the age of 23, was editor of the Northwestern Financial Review. “I took risks and asked for what I wanted,” Driscoll said. “I wanted the job, so I told myself, ‘I can do this,’ and I wrote down the top three reasons I’d be a good fit.”
When her employer was purchased, Driscoll decided it was time to say “yes” to a PR agency (now Weber Shandwick) that was trying to recruit her. She worked as an account executive, focusing primarily on the financial services industry. From there, she moved to a senior communications specialist job at Dain Rauscher; eventually, shewound up in investor relations there. In 2001 she went to Best Buy, where she is now vice president of investor relations.
“Investor relations is a great career field that lots of people don’t know about,” said Driscoll. “You work with top executives and get questions from Harvard M.B.A.s. You’ll get calls if your company does something, if the market does something or if your competitor does something.” On the job, Driscoll assists the CFO in reportingresults and explaining them to analysts and investors. She writes annual reports and investor presentations, and she is constantly on the phone discussing Best Buy’s performance, management style and reactions to competitors. “You have to be an expert in everything,” said Driscoll. “I don’t compute the income statement, but I have to understand it. I work with top executives before they meet with investors and prepare them for questions.”
She recommends the field for people with an M.B.A. in finance and good communication skills. She also believes the field provides an excellent education for people who are interested in eventually becoming a CFO.
Like her ideal candidate for a job in investor relations, Driscoll has an M.B.A. in finance. While pursuing her degree, Driscoll learned one of the things she keeps in mind both on and off the job: “You don’t get points for doing it alone.” She found that when she and her fellow St. Thomas students worked as a group, they could utilize each other’s strengths. Likewise, at work “you get no extra credit for doing a project by yourself. When you include others, you do a better job. Know your weakness and involve others.”
Driscoll makes a habit of learning from others. “I didn’t know anything about supply chains, so I asked someone who did to explain them. I make friends with people and ask them how to succeed. I find people unlike me, and I find out how they do it.” She also thinks of feedback as a gift. “I learn from reviews – how to change, grow and develop. When you do something new, you feel stupid at first, but you get better, and it becomes a habit.”
“I work with such smart people, and I get to learn from top executives,” said Driscoll. “I love my job.”
Best Buy Co. Inc.Best Buy Co. Inc. is a world-leading specialty consumer electronics retailer. For Jennifer Driscoll, it is a business with values she can respect and people she can trust. Best Buy values its employees and their strengths. Driscoll notes that this can be seen in the building (all offices are the same size and are interior, so that people working in cubes can have windows). Best Buy’s values also can be seenin the way the executives behave. CEO Brad Anderson regularly flies coach class, and on one flight Driscoll, who had a seat with more legroom, had to convince him that changing seats would be to her benefit.