Meet Jennyfer Salvo, a journalist who have interviewed leaders such Mijaíl Gorbachov, Mario Vargas Llosa, Shimon Peres among others, an expert in innovation and international business. She currently leads a company, Softpower Connections Consulting, which helps governments and companies promote innovation and bring their businesses to an international scale, a world citizen, interested in gender equality.
I am a curious, passionate and open human being, trying to help to make a better world for all of us. I am a mom of two amazing kids, who are my team and partners. I feel like a world citizen, very interested in global issues and gender equality. I love reading and traveling, and I have done it quite a lot. I have thousands of books that have traveled with me in all my moving. Now it is easier with digital books! And I have been very lucky to visit more than 55 countries and lived in 4.
I studied journalism and I worked in the main Chilean TV station and newspaper, as well as other media outlets in Latin American and Europe. I had the chance to interview global leaders such as Mijaíl Gorbachov, Mario Vargas Llosa and Shimon Peres, among many others. I was lucky being so young and having the chance to ask questions and receive answers from global leaders. I have been involved in public policy for more than 20 years, focused on public diplomacy, country brand and international promotion of exports, tourism, and investment, developing promotional activities in more than 35 countries.
Tell us more about your family, how were you as a kid?
My grandparents where II World War survivors and I grew up under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. I think both situations had a strong influence defining who I am. I studied journalism because I wanted to give voice to people, to reveal the injustice and abuse, to create a more diverse society. I was a very good student and I think my commitment was defined by my grandmother. She used to say to me: study, study, what you learn is what you own. I was also a musician, played guitar in the school band. We recorded an LP and acted on TV. I was shy but very good at pretending not to be.
You have a Bachelor´s degree in Social Information and communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, why did you decide to study that?
When I was 16 my pediatrician told me: smart teenagers have to study powerful professions. She was trying to tell me I had the responsibility to use my education to improve my community. I seemed to be interested in biology so, she invited me to share a normal day in a doctor’s life. I was with her in her private office, at the hospital visiting patients… we spend 12 hours together. There I realized I was not interested in her patients’ physical pain. The whole day I was trying to figure out how their lives were, their conditions, their struggles… I discovered I wanted to know and to share their stories. And as a journalist, I did it for many years. I am proud of being part of the team that immediately after Pinochet’s political defeat, started to tell the hidden stories of human rights violations. I founded the research area of the Press Department in TVN (Televisión Nacional de Chile) the public Tv Station. We opened unexpected spaces. It was dangerous and painful, risky for our lives, but I felt exactly in the place I dreamt to be.
Telling other stories is a life crossing mission. Nowadays, besides my the company, I lead a magazine where we tell stories that are relevant for decision makers in over 45 countries and I am a panelist in the main night news program in the Chilean TV. I still feel the heat in my heart when I act as the journalist I am.
You have a lot of experience in Government, politics and in media sectors throughout your professional career: Founder of the research area of the Press Department in TVN (Televisión Nacional de Chile), A journalist in El Mercurio, Press and Culture Attaché at the Embassy of Chile in Peru, Consultant, and Speaker in Public Diplomacy, Political and Strategic Communication in Inter-American Development Bank, Advisor in innovation, Deputy Director of Communications, Marketing and Brands In Prochile among others, what is the biggest learning you got from working for important institutions and for interviewing famous people as Mijaíl Gorbachov, Mario Vargas Llosa?
A lot of learnings…I discover that we are very much alike. Simple and powerful people suffer the same problems: abandon, isolation, struggle with uncertainty… I also realized how hard is to practice politics and how complex is that role. While distrust crosses politics around the world I believe there is a need to dignify such an important role to represent the whole map of interests and groups that coexist in every society. I also discovered my own capability to navigate through different sectors, different knowledge areas. I discovered and worked my flexibility, my capacity to understand others, to accept and respect different perspectives and ways of living.
How did you jump from that experience in politics and media to found your own company Softpower Connection? For the people who don´t know, can you describe the services your company offers? what does it unique compared to others in the market?
After many years working in the government, I felt the speed was not enough for my expectations, my energy… it was not flexible enough for the wide range of interest I have. In the last period in the public sector, I started to work in innovation and to help StartUps. There was amazing energy around that I couldn’t bring to the place I was working in. So I started to prepare my next step. I found an amazing woman that became my mentor and I got my first client. I was ready to jump to the other side.
Now I run my own consultancy company, Softpower Connections which helps governments, startups, and companies promote innovation and bring their businesses to an international scale. We support them from exports to soft-landing. We use innovation methodology for adapting products, services, and business models to the new markets; we do markets research, international networking; we help innovators to test and prototype abroad and of course, we do a lot of communication and marketing for our clients. I have collected all my professional and personal experience and our offer is unique because we cover in one team a whole range of needs that are faced in all the internationalization processes.
I heard you designed a program to increase women’s participation in international trade and developed the innovation department to accelerate startups and expose entrepreneurs to international networks, can you tell us more about it?
When I was appointed to the position of Assistant Director at Prochile, the Chilean promotion bureau for exports, investment and tourism I was already researching about the unfair conditions for women in the international trade arena and I tried to help. Women had no representation in commercial missions or other activities. Gender was not part of the equation. With the help of other professionals and international organizations like the Interamerican Development Bank, we arrived to create a whole program that included gender quotas to always have women’s companies in every activity; special programs to train and stimulate women to think global and to attempt with their own business. Nowadays this program is the crown jewel and there are so many incredible women participating.
I was also responsible for creating the innovation area and give to it its goals and main lines. So I lead a team that developed the first national study about gaps in the internationalization of innovation. That was a wonderful work because we got to understand the unique Startup’s characteristics and needs, the timing innovation and technology businesses need; the lack of knowledge and experience among many other aspects. That study leads the work the government is doing right now.
You have achieved a lot, journalist, expert in innovation and international business, founder of Softpower Connections Consulting, etc, what is the recipe of your success?
No recipes besides hard work, commitment, an open mind and heart, build good teams to work with…and always listen to your inner voice
What is the reality of your day-to-day?
Since I run my company, my days are more flexible than before. I read the news every morning (and many times a day). Twice a week we have team sessions to plan and follow the different task. I have at least 3 networking meetings per week and lots of hours to do the work. I participate as a panelist in a TV news program and write opinion features weekly, so I do a lot of research and writing. I swim at least 3 times a week and do yoga twice. I know I need my body in shape to face all the challenges. I am always open and listening to the trends, young people opinions and actions. I try to keep my mind very active.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
I have done the best I could at every step. I try to accept and embrace who I am and the process I face at every time. As Steve Jobs said in his known speech at Stanford University, looking back, I understand and connect the dots that led me to this point.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Sounds cliché, but it is true: listen to your body and heart, and take care of them, keep your friends close. Then, listen to the needs and urgencies of your potential clients and make useful offers for their needs, not yours.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
A good and well-treated network
What has Vital Voices meant to you? how did you hear about this organization?
I knew nothing about Vital Voices until a friend sent me the link to apply for the VV Engage program. I did not expect much until I arrived at our first gathering. VV has been a turning point in my life. They have helped me to sharpen my driving force, to trust more in my own power; to build an amazing female international network, to shake my dreams. I am grateful and committed to pay back and to pass the torch.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves, if they believe they can have it all, I don´t know if you are married and/or have kids, so according to your experience, what do Do you think about these statements?
Women carry a heavyweight because to have a successful public life, seems that we need a good enough personal life with husband, kids, and a house to take care of. Stereotypes keep showing standardized and unrealistic women. I think it is hard, but I do believe that changes need to be done in collaboration with men. I am doing all I can to improve the conditions for my daughter and my son. I don’t want him to feel forced to fulfill the male stereotype, which is also heavy. Women have been used to fight for men’s attention and to believe they deserve only a piece of the cake. Things are turning and we have to be clear: Sisterhood is key. We need to help each other, support each other and keep pushing to open all spaces for equal access.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Swim, yoga, walk with my dog, spend time with friends and family, reading, watching movies and series, traveling.
What are your plans for this 2019?
I am consolidating my company and articulating the team to move to the next step. I am exercising my voice, giving my opinion in the media about the topics I care about. I walk side by side with my family, trying to be a good company for my kids in their growing process. Trying to enjoy life as much as possible.
What piece of advice can you give to young girls who want to work in journalism and politics like you?
I would say to young girls: trust yourself, no need to be perfect to follow their passion, to be honest, and work hard; invest time in create networks and try always to built win-win relations
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
I admire many women. Just to mention a few: Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, in very different ways I admire their strength, their commitment, their intelligence to make a difference. Beyonce, who with her art is opening spaces and topics. My mom, my grandmother that survived the Holocaust and started alone a new life far from her home.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
Thank you for giving voice to women around the world
Name: Jennyfer Salvo
Sector: Consulting in communication, innovation and international business
Company: Softpower Connections Consulting
Designation: Founder and Managing Director
Social media: @jennyfersalvo Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin