Q&A with Wall Street Journal management news editor Joann Lublin MA ’71

Nov. 13, 2016, 10:30 p.m.

The Daily interviewed Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Joann Lublin MA ʼ71 to discuss her book “Earning It – Hard Won Lessons from Trailblazing Women at the Top of the Business World.” Lublin, who was one of The Wall Street Journal’s first female reporters and is its current management news editor, interviewed over 50 successful women in business about their careers for the book. She will be speaking later tonight at CEMEX Auditorium from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Stanford Daily (TSD): What are some of the key takeaways of your book?

Joann Lublin (JL): In my book, I interviewed 52 high ranking corporate executive women, of whom [nearly] two-thirds are experienced public company CEOs. One thing I observed looking back at what were their common leadership traits was that many of them exhibited tremendous resilience, and many also exhibited tremendous persistence. They were resilient in the face of setbacks, and they were very, very persistent in terms of achieving goals … To become a success, you not only have to deal with setbacks but you have to learn from them to make sure that you don’t repeat the same mistake twice – instead you layer one experience on another. Failure is actually more important than success in terms of what it can teach you.

TSD: Were there any experiences in your life that you’d like to point to as showcasing resilience and persistence?

JL: I chose to do a master’s thesis [in communication] even though one wasn’t required, because I was really interested – even back then – in investigating discrimination against women who work for newspapers. In order to graduate in June, I had to finish my master’s thesis and deliver it by a certain date. I had already, at that point, been offered and accepted a job to work at The Wall Street Journal, and I was having a real hard time getting [the thesis] done. I called up the bureau chief who had offered me a job and said, “I may not graduate on time if I don’t finish this master’s thesis. Will the job still be open if I graduate in August?” and he said, “No, I suggest you write faster.” So I did.

TSD: Many students on campus are concerned with the gender pay gap. How do you think that things are going to develop over the next several years when it comes to sexism in workplaces?

JL: I have an entire chapter in my book devoted to the gender pay gap. I cite a 2015 report that says based on current trends, women will not achieve pay equality until 2058. The same report also says that a typical working woman loses close to $530,000 over her lifetime due to the gender wage gap. What was even more depressing about that report was that the losses were even greater for those with high levels of education. I think that closing the gender pay gap is something that companies are paying more attention to, particularly within Silicon Valley.

TSD: Are there [any] best practices that people should take as they start in the workforce?

JL: There’s a chapter in the book called “Bloom Where You Are Planted,” and the whole point of that chapter is the notion that you may not always get your ideal promotion. But you’ve got to flex your muscles and try out your wings in a variety of roles. You’re not going to do that if you’re put into positions where you already know everything about how to do the work. You’re not going to attract attention to your ability unless you are willing to at least take a calculated risk and do something different. It’s a way to stand out and show you can achieve and excel.

This transcript has been edited and condensed.

Caleb Smith contributed to this report.


Contact Miguel Samano at msamano ‘at’ stanford.edu.


Correction: The article originally incorrectly described Lublin’s title, and the portion of public company CEOs she interviewed. The article has been updated with correct information. The Daily regrets these errors.

Miguel Samano is an opinions editor majoring in Comparative Literature and Chicanx-Latinx Studies. He loves sleeping, drinking night coffee, seeking out new books to read, and eating tacos with friends.

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