Lead(H)er: Jen Hau, VP of Product at Troops
When Jen Hau was 27 years old, she achieved her lifelong dream of becoming a lawyer. When she was 28, she quit.
After dreaming of a career in law since she was in first grade, Hau found herself feeling disillusioned and out of love with her chosen path and decided she needed a change.
“I can’t overstate what an existential moment that was for me,” Hau said. “I was never more sure of anything than the fact that I wanted to be a lawyer.”
Hau found a data entry job at Urban Compass, a real estate technology company. She had been unsure about where to apply or how to translate her legal skills into a business context but, through hard work and confidence, was eventually promoted to a product manager role on the company’s first expansion product.
Finally, Hau had found her place. Product management combined many of the things she had once enjoyed about being a lawyer, like learning about new problems and using evidence and communication to persuade, with a level of creativity and forward-thinking that her previous career hadn’t offered.
“Nothing gets me more excited than learning about the arcane ways we’re forced to do our work and figuring out ways to improve it,” Hau said.
She continued this learning at VenueBook as Director of Product, then took on mobile product manager and senior product lead roles at Hightower and VTS, Inc. when Hightower was acquired.
Hau has been at Troops now for almost two years, quickly moving from Head of Product to Vice President of Product. The company uses artificial intelligence and Slack to help distributed sales teams connect on a more personal level, work more efficiently, and even celebrate big wins together to decrease the isolation that remote employees often feel.
“I’ve always taken product roles at companies that all had some sort of common mission, which is to help people use software at their jobs to make them more efficient, give them more information, and make their jobs more delightful,” Hau said.
In her role at Troops, Hau facilitates this mission by creating a safe and creative environment for her team and providing them with the support they need to not only do their jobs well, but to feel fulfilled in them. This team, like most startup groups, provides an energy and camaraderie that Hau finds particularly motivating.
Hau’s team has also given her the opportunity to continue her goal of coaching and mentoring others in tech. She’s been a coach at Merit, a mentorship organization that connects underrepresented people in tech to a network of mentors, and was founded by Hau’s friends Kirk Fernandes and Randy Brown. Hau ultimately sees herself sharing her experience and helping other founders as an investor and board member.
Now that she’s found her true passion, Hau is looking forward to embracing startup life as much as possible.
“People who join startups are often intellectually curious and eager to make an impact, and I find their drive really motivating,” she said. “And I do love the chaos of a startup.”
Quick Q(uestions) and A(dvice)
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am almost always thinking three meals ahead, so eating! I also love to cook, and I’ve recently gotten very into making sourdough bread.
How do you generally manage stress?
Eating and cooking! But I also have really embraced the idea of self-care. To me, the definition of self-care isn’t just skincare and massages (which I do love), but it is also whatever pursuits or activities replenishes your tank and makes you feel connected to yourself or the world. For me, those things are making things with my hands, like food and art, hosting events for the people I love, learning about a new topic, and traveling.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
I’ve been trying to keep it to one cup of coffee or matcha a day, and drinking lemon water in between. But if left to my own devices, cold brew would run through my veins.
What's one of your favorite places in the NYC area?
I love a good coffee shop, and one of my favorite spots was one by a former office called Yours Truly.
What do you consider one of your proudest accomplishments?
When I think back to what I’m most proud of, I think about the teams I’ve built and the connections and cultures we’ve created as a team. I have sought to model the type of working environment that I would want: challenging but not a grind, a degree of autonomy and empowerment but with access to support and a listening ear, serious about the craft and the mission but fun and light.
How does where you are now compare to where you thought you'd be 10 years ago?
Night and day. I had been prepared for a life of leather portfolios, suits and pencil skirts, and billable hours. Now, I get to be who I really am, even as that changes, doing something I love.
What's your advice for college graduates?
Don’t freak out when you lose sight of the path! It’s never going to be straight and narrow. Get comfortable with that uncertainty because it might take you somewhere that seems risky but pays off in the end.