A few years ago, Scarsdale resident Jocelyn Greenky hit a wall trying to get back on her feet after her software startup went under. Already in her 50s, she needed to find a new gig and, suddenly, she was looking around and seeing very few people looking back.
“I pieced together all these gigs,” said Greenky. “I was calling every human being I knew on earth saying what do you have?”
Greenky had worked for more than 30 years in high-profile roles: she was an event marketer at Philip Morris International, a director at Wenner Media involved with producing material for names like “The Rolling Stone” and “Men’s Journal,” a corporate editor-in-chief and head of programming for an international media company, a software business co-founder and a professor at Mercy College. With a résumé packed so full of droppable names and intimidating titles, the thought of being unable to find a job had never crossed Greenky’s mind.
Greenky had already been doing work evaluating work environments and the impact of ageism, even writing a book called “The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know.” Now, she was being subjected to the same social influences she’d been studying, finding that many people she’d known in media had “aged out” of the industry by the time she was looking for somewhere new to go.
“I pitched software to no less than six VCs, and no less than four of them asked where the CEO was when I walked in [with my partner.] They looked at [him] first as if I were some second person. I [said] ‘I’m the CEO,’” Greenky told the Inquirer. “In addition to that fact, we were both older and they told us straight out, ‘We like to invest in people who have no obligations because all they do is work.’”
Greenky was also advised to leave her 30 years of experience off her résumé and, instead, only include the last 10, cutting out work on major projects with recognizable names.
“What do I have to do, show up with my health card or some blood test saying I’m perfectly healthy and will be alive for the next 40 years or so?” said Greenky.
However, the reality remained that she was looking down many more years of work and needed a place to go. That’s when she realized returning to school was her best, if not only, option. Because Greenky was a professor in the school of business at Mercy College, she was able to enroll in a master’s program for a reduced price and, at the age of 53 with six kids at home and a growing business, began pursuing her MBA.
“I did night classes,” said Greenky. “And then it was a turbo program, so one entire month I was there every day and on the weekends. [It] was crazy in terms of commitment to get to that [while] working full time. And I had a small business, staging houses on the side, too.”
Greenky graduated in May, at age 55, with an MBA and distinctions, and Mercy College in conjunction with Sider Road, a local consulting business founded by Greenky, recently published timely research on the state of women in the workplace.
Greenky’s research, which assessed work environments on the “Psychological Safety Scale” by surveying more than 700 employees from different countries, found that people of color, women and specifically women of color are still lacking support in their workplace. Sider Road, which specializes in diversity and inclusivity and provides guidance to companies looking to improve workplace environment, has found that other factors, including age, also play a role in workplace success.
Greenky’s current full-time job is Sider Road, though she also has a real estate license, stages homes, volunteers as a mentor, teaches at Mercy College and is looking to write another book.
For now, she focuses on advancing Sider Road’s goal of creating more diverse and inclusive work environments using the skills she learned in school to make the difference.
“We’re all living longer,” Greenky noted. “We’re working longer and better have those credentials to pull it off.”