Where in the world is Jacqui Newell? Former teacher, history buff, world traveler, blogger, and international businesswoman, Jacqui brings a range of experience to her role as a senior product marketing manager in charge of Carbonite™ Endpoint, Carbonite Backup for Microsoft 365, and Carbonite Server at OpenText. “Change is in my DNA,” she says, and it’s clear from her personal and career history that adaptability and a hunger for new knowledge are some of her biggest drivers.
Here, we discuss her trajectory and dig into how she went from a history student teaching English in Taiwan to a senior product marketer for one of the Canada’s largest global technology companies.
How did your career begin?
I entered the workforce after living abroad for two years teaching English in Taiwan. I loved being a teacher and I think it is such an excellent career choice, but it just wasn’t the right decision for me at that time. I was in my early 20s and had just travelled to 12 countries in two years. I’d gotten to see so much and was dying to learn more. That’s when I decided to pursue international business instead.
What was your original plan, before you had that realization?
Believe it or not, I wanted to be a history professor. Growing up, I was always interested in history as I find it fascinating how much we can learn from the past to improve the present. I studied history in university and fully intended on continuing my career as an academic. You often hear people say they find history boring, but there are so many different aspects of history that remain applicable today. Take the pandemic, for instance. Some of the first comparisons and lessons were drawn from the Spanish Flu in 1918. I’m an outgoing person who thrives on knowledge, so I wanted to be in a position where I could make history engaging and accessible for everyone.
You said you traveled to 12 different countries in just 2 years. What were they?
It’s been a while since I’ve had to list them all, so I know I’ll forget some. Since I was living in Taiwan at that time, most of my visits were to other places in Southeast Asia. I visited Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, also Egypt… Travel has been a big part of my life since I was a kid, so I’ve always embraced opportunities to visit new places.
Did your travels influence your decision to work for an international company?
Definitely. Although I love to learn and teach, I realized that, for my career, I wanted to combine my creative skills and my strong background in writing and research to make a different kind of impact. It actually led me into the communications field, because that seemed like a good way to translate the skills that I already had to a corporate position.
How did you make the transition from teacher to international businesswoman?
I took a postgraduate certificate in public relations. I knew that would be a requirement to get into a communications position. After completing the certificate, I had an internship at a diverse global manufacturing company and ended up working there for the next decade. At the time, there were six different business units ranging from personal safety equipment to orthodontic braces. I got to work across all of them, holding various positions in public relations, marketing communications, strategic planning and marketing execution. I even got to work on the PR for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
When was the moment you decided to pursue a job in the tech field?
The funny part there is that it happened when I was considering moving to a career in the financial industry. I set up a coffee date with a woman working at a large bank through a mutual friend. After learning about her experiences with the bank, I asked her, “Looking back on your career, is there anything you regret?” She responded, “I regret not taking the job at OpenText!”
Immediately after I got to my car, I Googled, “OpenText Waterloo” and read all about it. It sounded right up my alley, so I got on LinkedIn to see if I had connections to anyone who worked there. It turned out I did! Then I met that person for coffee and validated that OpenText was the kind of company I wanted to work for. When a job came up that I was interested in, I sent her the link and asked if she’d be willing to refer me. The rest is history!
As a senior product marketing manager, how would you describe your role to someone who doesn’t know what that means?
My main responsibility is to create the key messaging and positioning to bring our products to market. Basically, I take the complex technology we work on and I simplify it so that we can all understand what it does. I’m kind of like a translator in that regard. I also have to understand the competition, know what’s happening in the industry, figure out how those trends could influence our product roadmap so that our product is relevant and useful to customers, both now and in the future. This position definitely uses that blend of my creative and strategic planning skills, and it requires a lot of research and writing.
What do you like most about working for OpenText?
OpenText is an incredible company to work for. I work with an amazing team who are all talented and bring unique perspectives to the problems we tackle together. And because of how OpenText acquires companies, you get to work with people in all stages of their career and learn about all kinds of different products. For example, the role I have now was possible due to the Carbonite acquisition, which has given me the opportunity to dig in and find out everything I can about products I haven’t worked with before. There are so many opportunities to broaden my experience. It really satisfies my need for continual learning.
What’s the biggest piece of career advice you would offer to others?
Your happiness is incredibly important. If you’re not passionate about what you do – even if you’re good at it – you owe it to yourself to make a move. Sure, making a major move can be scary. But no matter where you are in your career or what your field is, it’s never too late to learn something new. And in my experience, a lot of hiring managers today are looking for candidates who have a broad background that shows you’re adaptable and can bring a diverse perspective.
This is your life and, as a wise colleague once reminded me, “You don’t get a dress rehearsal.” So make it count!
Anything else you’d like to share?
In case it’s not clear, I love to teach and learn, so I thought I’d share the strategic plan framework I used to change industries. It took me a lot of trial and error, and I received a lot of guidance along the way, but I found following this plan effective and I hope others will, too!
- Take a moment and really think about who you are and what motivates you.
- Explore your options and research the kinds of jobs and industries available, and any basic requirements, like education.
- Use LinkedIn, social media, and local networking opportunities to build your personal brand, get your name out there and make connections.
- Identify the path of least resistance; i.e. understand your skills and how you can apply them, take any required courses, etc.
- Shortlist industries based on your interests, values and practical needs.
- Find a mentor so you can get guidance from people who have more experience.
- Demonstrate your capacity to keep learning.
- Tailor your resume and cover letter to each job.
- Position yourself in your interviews so you’re THE solution for the job description.
- Have faith in yourself! Confidence is key. Take a risk when you’re ready and you’ll reap the rewards.
To see what positions are available for you at OpenText, visit our careers page.