Jennifer Adams Draffen: A day in the life of a leading woman in technology

Jennifer Adams Draffen is Associate General Counsel, IP Product at Facebook, Inc., where she is conquering new media frontiers. This is a day in the life of a leading woman in technology.

What currently keeps you busy? Conquering new media frontiers, and driving the advancement of women through Leading Women in Technology.

Today I woke up at 6:30 am.

The first thing I did was start a load of laundry. Having the machines running makes me feel like I am multiplying my efforts, and I like to get the lengthiest process in motion first.

My morning ritual includes two eggs, checking the calendar to make sure I am prepared for meetings, trying to make sure the kids and dinner are sorted. I like to spend some time chipping away at my work to do list before the rush of meetings begins.

I started working at 7:30 am – I check email and respond to what came in overnight from our teams overseas, and see if I need to re-prioritize my to do list.

My biggest challenge was delegation. I think a lot of women want to Do All The Things, and it is often hard to let go and let someone else.

I celebrated blue sky and cherry blossoms. I love all the seasons, even the very nuanced changes in California, but that sight and smell always blows me away.

What I love most about my work is being intellectually and creatively challenged every day. I am so lucky to work with some of the most creative and innovative people in the world, who are constantly pushing the boundaries of possibility, at a breakneck pace. There are very few easy days, but stretching, growing, and launching really cool stuff is incredibly rewarding.

My favorite part of the day was when I walked to school with my kids. So few years left of feeling those little hands in my palms before my presence begins to embarrass them (as it does their older brother). The brief time with other parents along the way and at school keeps me connected to my community. And the quiet walk back (in California, rain is just as welcome as sunshine) is a great way to soak in a few moments of suburban nature and fresh air.

Least favorite… the commute home – I try to make the most of the time, but I do get impatient with the stop and go inefficiency.

I am so glad that I get to live, today! While we still have so far to go in terms of equality, human rights, and our environmental impact, I am amazed at how far we have come since I was a kid. It seems like the world is changing so fast, and it is such a privilege to be part of it.

I wish I had more time, and more strength to protect it!

Did you have a plan for your day? Did it go as planned? I always start the day with a loose plan – three priority projects I want to move ahead, and hopefully time to do them. My days never go according to schedule, so I try to grab opportunities to be productive whenever I can – and to be more realistic about how everything will get done.

I want to recognize my husband, Mark Draffen, for helping me with our crazy life. Whether it is a sick kid or an unexpected transfer to Europe, we can figure it out together.

How do you commute? Unfortunately, I drive, but make the most of my time with audiobooks.

For lunch I ate at my desk and got sucked into my email inbox – a terrible, seductively delicious form of procrastination in the form of busy-ness.

A personal activity I do just for myself is extreme cooking – I love researching recipes, planning parties, and cooking elaborate meals (with mixed success). It is truly for me, because my crowd would probably be happier with beer, takeout, and a more present Jen.

My favorite technology that I used today is a campus bike! It’s practical and feels like flying, and I love the philosophy of the physics – leveraging effort. But my favorite modern tool is my iPhone – information + connectivity means I can be productive even in found moments.

I am inspired by the amazing women I meet through Leading Women in Technology. Industry leaders and future rock stars – these women are changing the world.

Did you meditate? Did you exercise? With great regret, no.

One strategy I use to make my time more effective is prioritization. Am I doing the right things, right now? What do I need to set in motion now to avoid an emergency later?

I am passionate about learning! There is so much I want to learn – languages, history, new musical instruments, art, cultures, kite surfing, how to juggle, how to whistle with two fingers, and maybe a few card tricks . . .

Something I wanted to get done but didn’t get to do was exercise.  I walk the kids to school and walk or bike around our large campus, but I know it isn’t enough and I really miss long morning runs. I have spent the dark, rainy winter mornings trying to improve my sleep – start with the basics!

I can’t live without my family and friends. And diet Pepsi.

Today I felt frustrated that I had not taken more time to engage with my colleagues and friends.  It is so important to connect, but so easy to get lost in the busy-ness and urgency of the workday rhythm.

I went to sleep at 11:45 pm, despite my best intentions to go to bed early and squeeze in some time to meditate in the morning.

Tomorrow I am looking forward to learning something new, and finding ways to incorporate more sustainable practices – exercise, meditation, friends – into my life.

***
Jennifer Adams Draffen is an accomplished attorney who guides internet companies at all levels of management through explosive international growth. Jen provides actionable, business-oriented advice to cross-functional teams (including engineering, design, operations, product, and marketing) on issues related to new and existing products and features throughout the entire product development lifecycle.

Jen is Associate General Counsel at Facebook, where she is responsible for counseling the product teams on intellectual property issues. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Leading Women in Technology, a nonprofit dedicated to unleashing the potential of professionals who advise technology businesses and executives. Prior to joining Facebook, Jen was a Director at Apple, leading legal support for the Internet Services business units. She has a JD from Duke University School of Law, and a BA with honors from Mississippi State University.

She can be found online on LinkedIn.