Laurene Powell Jobs on Social Entrepreneurship and Office Culture

Laurene Powell Jobs gave a rare public interview at Stanford University on March 5, as reported by Powell Jobs, the widow of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, talked about her career in social entrepreneurship in a discussion led by Stanford entrepreneurship professor Thomas Bryce. Powell Jobs entered the field of social entrepreneurship when she founded College Track, an organization that prepares teenagers from low-income backgrounds for college. She continued her work in this field by founding Emerson Collective, where she currently works with entrepreneurs to advance social reform efforts.

After discussing her work experience, Powell Jobs took questions from the crowd of students. One student asked if Powell Jobs had ever experienced difficulties in her career due to her gender. Powell Jobs responded that she did overhear discriminatory remarks while working in sales and finance after college, but has not worked in a similar atmosphere since. She encouraged students to try out a variety of work environments and stick with one that suits their needs.

In response to a question about how to increase interest in social entrepreneurship positions, Powell Jobs advocated the involvement of private investors and corporations. She cited the lower salaries of public interest work as potentially “demoralizing”, and suggested that better funding from investors might offset this downside. However, she emphasized the “intrinsic reward” of working for the public good as an unparalleled draw.

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