At Babbel, our endgame is getting people to have conversations with other people, in a new language. There are fantastic folks here making that possible. In our “Behind The Scenes” series, we sit down with them to provide a glimpse into who makes it all work, what they do, and where their heads are at.
This round we’re talking to Jen Jordan, VP & Global Head of Content. She’s based in the Babbel US office, located in New York City.
What’s your role at Babbel? What do you do on a typical day?
I joke that I’m a professional email writer…it’s feeling less like a joke these days! In its best moments, my role allows me to be a coach. What do the members of my team need in order to be successful in their jobs? How can I get us closer to hitting our team goals this week? These are the questions I ask to center my focus every day. Sometimes this means I spend time in meetings, connecting with other teams or meeting 1-1 with my direct reports. Other times, it means creating docs or reports or brainstorming ideas for collaborative projects, or providing constructive creative feedback, or helping determine the next steps in a project.
Earlier this year, we merged the US and Berlin content and social teams to form a fully global, organic content team. A typical day generally involves a full morning of meetings with the Berlin and US teams, a midday screen break to walk my dog Coop, more meetings in the afternoon, and then hopefully some time to whittle my inbox back down to zero (-ish) and mentally prepare myself for the next day.
Where are you from and which languages do you speak/are you learning?
I grew up in Maine, in a college town heavily influenced by French Canadian culture and language. Many of my classmates called their grandparents mémère and pépère and spoke some French at home. I started studying French in middle school and continued through high school. My mom was born in Germany and I have a lot of extended family there, in a town in the Rhine region called Bad Kreuznach. I took a college semester of German just to familiarize myself with the language before a trip to meet my German family. I also took three years of Russian in college to prepare for my goal (at the time) of working in a career in public policy or international relations. I took a semester of Latin as well, because, why not? It’s so thrilling to be able to use what I remember from my language courses — I’ve always loved studying languages but it’s hard to get a chance to use this in real life.
Give us a bit of insight into Babbel’s New York team!
Working in the Babbel New York office is very much like working for a startup that happens to be funded by a much larger parent company. While Babbel is quite established in Europe, there’s still a need to prove ourselves here in the US market, and there’s this great energy and culture of problem-solving among my US colleagues. There’s only ~40 of us based in the New York office, and we’re all focused on growth marketing, so we’re pretty tight-knit.
What are some of the advantages and challenges of leading a global team?
Absolutely, our diversity is our biggest advantage. The many perspectives represented on the team from all over the US, Europe and beyond mean we challenge and inspire each other with new ideas. Continuing to increase the diversity of the team is an ongoing goal of mine.
Team bonding and brainstorming is a challenge when your team is scattered. My hope is we can get the teams together in the new Berlin HQ as soon as it’s safe to travel.
How do Babbel’s content and social media channels help our users learn languages?
We publish content in eight languages across Babbel Magazine, our social media channels, YouTube and more. Our goal is to educate and entertain anyone interested in languages and cultures. Some recent things we’ve published:
- deep dives into grammatical gender
- tips for making the most of reading in another language
- common struggles every French learner knows
- learning guides, like this one for our popular podcast Un dia en español
- navigating through the language and culture of Mexico City in a choose-your-own-adventure
What are you and your team hoping to accomplish this year?
- Growing Babbel Magazine readership and social media followers by creating useful, interesting and genuinely enjoyable content.
- Hiring new team members to come join us! I’m currently hiring Content & Social Media Managers for our German and Italian editions. (Learn more and apply on the Babbel Jobs page!)
- Learning from each other. We’re a newly global team, and the learning curve has been a bit steep. Embracing a growth mindset is key.
Since we are now all working from home, how have you adjusted to this situation? Do you have any tips to share for WFH productivity?
If your living situation allows it, I highly recommend dogs. Remote work has meant more meetings and screen time for everyone, but my dog Cooper insists on regular breaks. Breaking up my day with active bursts for walks and fresh air helps me manage stress and gives me inspiration for new ideas.
Want to work with Jen? Her team is currently looking for Content & Social Media Managers (German & Italian)!