Jennifer Rynearson Petree ’96 attended Duchesne for high school. Her mother Irene Christy Rynearson is a Duchesne graduate from class of 1971, and her daughter Lily just started as a freshman at Duchesne this fall! As the founder and managing partner of Petree Partners, a marketing and consulting firm helping businesses define and realize their next stage of growth, Jennifer shares with us her unique perspective on finding your passion and making it a reality.
How did you find your passion for Marketing and Business Strategy?
Growing up, my favorite movie heroines were Melanie Griffith in Working Girl and Teri Garr in Mr. Mom. I fell in love with these smart women who were tackling corporate America and carving out whatever slice of the pie made sense for them. Combine that with a steady diet of sales chatter (care of my own working mom) and the discovery of industrial/organizational psychology in college, you could just about say I was born this way.
What led you to found your consulting firm Petree Partners?
After 20 years of seeing every possible business archetype play through all the good, bad and ugly moments, I was ready to put some equity into my own approach and say goodbye to big company politics. The gig network of talent I have the pleasure of collaborating is phenomenal. It is more creative, accessible, and efficient than what many of the large consulting shops and agencies can deliver to our middle-market clients. My partner and I wanted to ensure our clients receive not only a pragmatic, objective point of view but also a road map and the right level of support to meet or exceed their objectives. Our private equity and corporate clients really appreciate our fresh approach.
How did attending Duchesne lay the foundation for where you are today?
Duchesne gave me so much confidence by teaching me how to write, how to ask good questions and debate, and how to investigate and research. Of course, I didn’t appreciate any of this until I was well into my career! I will never forget the first time a senior executive gave me some advice after a management team meeting. It was the first time I realized that I was not yet viewed as a peer or colleague by the all-male team. In that moment, I was so grateful to Duchesne for sending me into the world clear and levelheaded; not a deferential lamb, afraid to think outside the box.
What advice would you share with current Duchesne high school students?
Follow your heart, and your head will follow. Your career will take many dips and turns, and if you stay in touch with everyone you will see your world blossom into the most wonderful garden of opportunities. In short, start your LinkedIn profile now and never ever burn a bridge.
How has your industry changed in the past two years, in response to both the global pandemic and a greater shift toward diversity and inclusion?
Most of our clients haven’t been affected financially by the pandemic. They are in industrial and manufacturing services, or they are private equity investors and lawyers who run deals year-round regardless of climate. If anything, it’s created demand for our services because everyone finds themselves pivoting quicker to adopt new plans and communicate more effectively. Despite the ongoing challenges the pandemic created, I do appreciate that it’s keeping everyone on their toes. There is liveliness in the market again, and that is very exciting for our female-led enterprise.
What do you find most challenging about owning your own business, and what do you find most rewarding?
In the first three years, the most challenging thing by far has been maintaining steady cash flow so we can invest and expand. The most rewarding is the flexibility it offers me and my family. It has also presented endless opportunities to reconnect with colleagues I haven’t worked with in years while also discovering a whole new untapped network. Don’t tell my husband, but I love being an entrepreneur.