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Jennifer Skyler joined American Express as chief corporate affairs officer in 2019 after four years leading communications at WeWork, growing the function from the ground up through the company’s heyday. During her time at American Express, Skyler has led initiatives centered around the company addressing some of today’s most pressing issues — diversity & inclusion, climate change and the wellbeing of small businesses among them.
Skyler launched the company’s first ESG strategy which encompasses three core pillars: promoting DEI, building financial confidence, and advancing climate solutions. She also steered American Express’s efforts to help small businesses recover from the Covid pandemic, which included a $1 million grant program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to support historic and culturally significant restaurants in their recovery.
Skyler’s corporate affairs & communications function played a key role in creating the Coalition to Back Black Businesses, a collaboration between American Express, the US Chamber of Commerce and the nation’s four leading Black Chambers — the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, Walker’s Legacy and US Black Chambers, Inc. — to award $10 million to support Black-owned small business recovery in the U.S. over the next four years.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
As a team, our overarching goal is to help enhance American Express’ brand and strategic priorities, and a great example of how we’re currently doing this is collaborating with our colleagues in CEG in amplifying the narrative about our best-in-class colleague value proposition. Earlier this year, we rolled out Amex Flex, our new working model, which provides colleagues with the option to work in the office, fully virtually, or a hybrid of both. With Amex Flex, we aimed to recapture the creativity and collaboration of working together in person, while also retaining the flexibility and productivity we were able to achieve in a virtual environment. We have now implemented Amex Flex in more than 20 markets globally and it has been very well received by our colleagues. Since we announced Amex Flex, the majority of our colleagues in the U.S. have chosen a hybrid schedule, which means they will come into the office about two days per week and work virtually for the rest, while more than 40% have opted to be fully virtual, a percentage that has doubled over the last two years. These efforts have been critical to our ability to develop, attract and retain the top talent in the industry, and enabled us to continuously improve colleague engagement and satisfaction. They also lead to awards and recognitions that impact our corporate reputation.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Companies are continuing to navigate a shifting macroeconomic and geopolitical environment, all while needing to effectively communicate with an increasingly broad and engaged set of stakeholders. To reach all these audience effectively, companies must ensure a consistent narrative and voice across all global audiences. For our team, we see many opportunities to succeed in this this environment. For example, we’ve recently relaunched our newsroom to create more engaging content with a refreshed content strategy to amplify key themes and narratives. We are also focused on elevating our data-driven approach and enhancing our global systems of measurement for external communications. Internally, we’ve refreshed our communications to deepen colleague engagement globally in a hybrid working environment.
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
I admire the resilience and agility of the industry as it’s been forced to adapt to new ways of working over the past couple of years. Now that that we are no longer stuck at home, the industry has quickly adapted again to reconnect with multiple stakeholders.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?
Carving out quality time to spend with my family keeps me grounded. It’s also been extremely refreshing to start taking family trips again this year.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
With three kids and a full-time job, I wish I had more time to indulge in more shows and podcasts. I’m pleased to say that I finally made it through both seasons of The Morning Show. Eventually I’ll watch We Crashed.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A TV producer.
Sum up 2022 in one word.
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