Q&A with Jessica Prince, Forty Under 40 Winner 2021; Executive director, strategy, intelligence, marketing and industry, B.C. Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, Age 37
Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?
I think my parents often wondered this when I was a nerdy little kid! Today, I’m motivated by a strong sense of public purpose. The mandate of the work that I do — seeking to improve life for all British Columbians — drives me.
What is your guilty pleasure?
What is the best book you would recommend?
I recently read Five Little Indians by Michelle Good, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein was another fascinating read.
Now that you are (or are close to) entering your forties, what goals have you set for yourself?
As a career-driven parent of a young child (with another on the way), I want to continue having a challenging and rewarding job that creates a positive impact, while also having the ability to be present for my family and loved ones.
What was your childhood career dream?
I think I wanted to be either a poet or a basketball player. Needless to say, my dreams didn’t pan out.
Name your happiest place.
The Lofoten Islands in Norway. My partner and I did a round-the-world trip in 2017 and fell in love with this remote place.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
Deciding to leave my career as a lawyer on Bay Street — with its clear career trajectory and generous compensation — to go work as a political staffer in Ottawa with zero job security.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Don’t take yourself so seriously, younger Jess, and stop trying to plan everything out. The universe will unfold as it should. Trust your gut and enjoy the ride.
What is your best habit?
Snacking (did I mention that I’m in my third trimester?!).
Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.
In my twenties, I taught debating and public speaking to kids and university students in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and China.
Best piece of advice ever received?
To always maintain a sense of justice and a sense of humour.
Biggest learning (about life or business) during the pandemic?
While we were all impacted by the pandemic, we weren’t impacted equally. Some individuals, businesses and sectors were much harder hit than others. It’s been incredibly rewarding working collaboratively with them to try and address that inequity.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
Being the chief of staff to Canada’s first Indigenous minister of justice and attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and helping to deliver some transformative public policy changes during our three-plus years working together.