Q&A: Jen Boezwinkle
Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.
Jen Boezwinkle is the executive vice president of Rockford Construction, a national development, construction and property management firm based in Grand Rapids.
With 20 years of experience as a practicing architect, Boezwinkle focuses on supporting construction clients through "innovative solutions and a collaborative approach to projects."
She is also responsible for Rockford’s strategic planning and communications.
Biggest career break?
This sounds so contrived, but Rockford has really been my biggest career break. Even though architecture and construction are related industries, they are not the same. To have the chance to look at the same project from a totally different perspective has been a great growth opportunity for me. I used to think architects had the corner on the market for creativity and problem solving, but that is absolutely not true. At heart, I’m a people person. I love our hard-working Rockford team, and I get a lot of satisfaction from serving our clients and community in meaningful ways.
I can’t pick one. I have thousands of proud moments watching my sons, Jack and Sam, grow and develop into really smart, talented young men. I also have a few not-so-proud mom moments, but I’m not allowed to talk about those.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
I once heard Maria Shriver give an interview, in which she said, “You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” I think that’s great advice, particularly for women. Too often, we try to be the perfect wife, mother, cook, housekeeper, career woman, etc. Then we drive ourselves crazy trying to do it all to a ridiculously high standard. It took me a long time to embrace a messy house and occasional takeouts, but I’m much happier now that I have.
How did you make your first dollar?
Aside from babysitting and helping out in my dad’s office, my first real job was for a photographer. It was great fun watching people see themselves through someone else’s eyes.
I can’t really think of one. I don’t get very attached to things. As a soon-to-be empty-nester, I’m actually trying to purge right now!
In college, I had the opportunity to take a furniture design class, and I still own one of the pieces I made. My retirement plan is to design and then build furniture with my own hands.
If you were president for a day, you would…?
Remind people that there is much more that unites us as human beings than divides us. We all want an opportunity to define happiness for ourselves, to support our families and loved ones, to be part of a community that recognizes the inherent value of all people. If we can’t find that common ground and purpose, then government, and leadership, dissolves into partisanship and rhetoric.
Last book you read?
I love to read, so I usually have a couple of books going at once. For work, I just finished “Team of Teams,” by General Stanley MacChrystal. For fun, I borrowed “Beloved,” by Toni Morrison, from my son. He read it for class, and I actually found his notes in the book pretty insightful.
Last search term you googled?
I typically google people and clients. I try to learn as much as I can about who they are and what’s important to them.
Your worst habit?
Diet Pepsi. I’ve given it up a hundred times, but busy days, late nights and the occasional cold make it a hard habit to break.
To unwind, you like to…?
Watch any college sports, but in particular my Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!
Any new country that I haven’t visited, but for a little R&R, there is nothing better than a white beach, a blue ocean and a salty margarita.
Person you most admire?
I admire people who embody certain characteristics — authenticity, integrity, kindness, honesty. The people I enjoy most are those with a great sense of humor who don’t take themselves too seriously.