“Think about the future,” Jen Brace from Ford

Jun 26, 2024

Meet Jen Brace, Chief Futurist at Ford, where she leads planning and strategic development by researching demographic shifts, identifying market outliers, and developing data-driven scenarios for the future. Throughout her 20-year career with Ford, she has launched multiple versions of SYNC in vehicle technology, led user experience research projects on autonomous vehicles, and drove innovation in mobility. When she’s not at work, Jen enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and English bulldog. 

Jen sat down with Jocelyn Hudak, Senior Director, Content and Digital Marketing, at the Automotive News Leading Women conference in Detroit, where she spoke about looking at the future from a different perspective, learning new skills, and leaning into your strengths. Check out her full interview and some of our favorite highlights from the conversation below.

Pass The Mic with Jen Brace - Full Interview

Keep a broad perspective on the future and the possibilities. Stay open to interesting experiences as they come.

Jen BraceChief Futurist, Ford

Things can change. 

Things can change, Jen Brace - Pass The Mic

Highlight: “COVID made our job so much easier to convince people that, oh, things can change. Just because it looks like this now. Don't assume that the future will look exactly the same. So if you're making business assumptions today, you need to think about how the future might be different and whether or not that is creating blind spots in your plans strategically. We tell teams that we don't predict the future, but we help them prepare for it.” - Jen Brace

Keep a broad perspective.

Keep a broad perspective, Jen Brace - Pass The Mic

Highlight: “Keep a broad perspective on the future and the possibilities. Stay open to interesting experiences as they come. I think it's lovely to have a plan and a career path, but I would say every time something interesting has come my way, I've thrown my plan out the window and said, absolutely. It has been really rewarding to welcome the unexpected turns. Make your plan and do what you need to to execute it, but don't be afraid to go off course.” - Jen Brace

Lean into your strengths.

Lean into your strengths, Jen Brace - Pass The Mic

Highlight: “Something that I pride myself on is identifying strengths of individuals, figuring out what somebody does really, really well and helping them lean into that. I'm a big believer of leaning into your strengths. It's important to try to find ways of overcoming some of your deficiencies, but I think leaning into your strengths is  much more natural and a better path to success.” - Jen Brace

Learn a new skill.

Learn a new skill, Jen Brace - Pass The Mic

Highlight: “Our Chief Futurist, who had been doing the job solo for many, many years, was able to start building a team, and she was interested in talking to me. I was floored because I always thought she had the coolest job at the company. And I told her that when we met, I said, ‘I always thought you had the coolest job, but I have no idea how to do what you do.’ And she looked me dead in the eye and she goes, ‘Nobody knows how to do what I do. I'll teach you.’ And it was just this really lovely, vulnerable moment of awesome. I'm going to go learn a new skill.” - Jen Brace 

Thanks to Jen, we’re thinking about the future and leaning into our strengths. If you want more inspiration like this, check out the Pass The Mic page.

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