While there’s no business like show business, Jen Healy let the curtain close on her theater career to pursue a legal career. Though she originally wanted to be an agent, two internships with the City of New York led her down a different path. Now, Jen takes center stage as Namely’s senior counsel, leading contract negotiations and answering legal questions that come her way.
We chatted with Jen about her role and how she settled on a legal career.
How did you end up in your role at Namely? I went to college for musical theater, but I always wanted to be a lawyer. My parents, smartly, reminded me that you don’t need a specific major to qualify for law school. I spent over a year after college working in theater.
I loved that time, but you have to have a lot of passion and grit to get up at 6 a.m. and stand outside in the middle of winter to audition for a show that you might not even get into. If you do get a role, then you have to travel around the country. I love theater, but not enough for all that. I am content just singing in the shower or in my church choir.
I started law school thinking I would be an entertainment lawyer and I got an internship with New York’s Department of Information and Telecommunications—which is not as tech-y as it sounds. It ultimately led to another internship with the television and film arm of the city. That’s where I first learned about contracts. After law school, I got a full-time job there and handled licensing, contracting, and negotiating partnerships. My next job was at Experian, where I worked for over seven years. I was looking for something new and applied to Namely on a whim.
What’s your favorite thing about your role?
It’s hard to get bored. Every day is different and challenging. We never have to do the same thing twice. It’s an open secret that I love the end of the quarter. I get to help with negotiations and I love the adrenaline rush of watching the sales team close deals. It’s always a stressful time of year, but so much fun.
What does your average workweek look like?
It really depends on what part of the month that week falls in. If it’s the end of the quarter, I’ll be on a lot of sales calls and working closely with our sales leadership team. Any other time of the quarter, I do a lot of sales coordinating, touching base with my team, and tackling any legal questions that come our way.
Is there something that would surprise people about your job?
We’re nice! Our team motto is “be super nice.” When people talk to me for the first time, they seem surprised to learn how normal I am. Many people think lawyers are scary and buttoned-up, but we don’t wear suits here. We’re friendly, we’ll talk to you in plain English, and we’ll help answer all your questions.
If you weren’t in this role, what would you be doing?
If I hadn’t decided to go to law school, I would probably be working in theater as a stage manager.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Namely?
The people. When I first started at Namely, I was impressed by how well everyone gets along. I’m continually surprised by how willing everyone is to work hard and help each other out. The running joke on the contracts team is that we’ll do “whatever it takes”—aside from something unreasonable or illegal—to help the sales team close a deal. People are always willing to do the same to help us too, which is really important for me as a mom. Sometimes I have to leave the office early to go to a Halloween parade or an activity for my kids. People understand that is important and respect you. They genuinely care about both your life at Namely and your life outside of work.
What’s your favorite thing about working in your department?
We’re like a family. Sometimes we squabble, but we’re always there for each other. Plus, we have some good comebacks in our Slack channel.
What’s your favorite office snack?
Peanut butter pretzels. They go very well with coffee, which is very important fuel for anyone in a legal department!
What's something your co-workers don't know about you?
I’m an open book, but some people would be surprised that I used to do theater and that I can sing. Annie was the first show I ever saw on Broadway when I was four years old. I had to be taken out of the theater because I started to sing.
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do your job?
Be thorough and don’t be afraid to say no. You have to present both sides of an argument, but always remain impartial. It’s hard not to take a side or make a recommendation, but you can’t decide for others. You have to give them the tools they need to make a holistic decision. You’re the advisor, not the decision maker
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to run...slowly. I’m not that fast. I also enjoy hiking and yoga. I currently spend a lot of time standing on the sidelines of children’s sporting events drinking large coffees. My kids have played soccer, baseball, and karate, so I do a lot of sideline mom-ing outside of work.
What was your best day at work?
I’ve had a lot of best days at work, but the one coming to mind was a day I wasn’t even at work. It was the day my youngest daughter was born. I posted her picture on the Namely feed and the photo set a record for the most likes on the company feed. It was so nice to see everyone’s support. Being able to announce that myself—without having to email my boss to share it with the team—was really cool.
Who has inspired you to get to this point in your career?
When I was in college, I had an incredible voice teacher who had taken a different path in life. She decided to have a career and not be a stay-at-home mom, which at that time was a big deal. She inspired me to follow my passions and not care about what other people think.
At Namely, our coworkers are one of the top reasons we love what we do. The Meet Namely series spotlights real Namely employees across the company. Stay tuned for more from the series to learn how we put HR for humans into practice.