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February 6, 2023

Sprigster Stories: How Sprig's Head of Finance Jenny Jao Went from Wall Street to Startup


We're back with another Sprigster story today. We're profiling the people who make up Sprig, from the engineers to the product managers, designers to the marketers. We're talking to them about how they've navigated their career paths and asking questions that can help inform those who are currently forging their own way.

Today we're talking to Sprig’s Head of Finance, Jenny Jao, whose career started on Wall Street and who became intrigued by the IPO process, leading her to a career helping companies through that process and, now, working at Sprig.

Let's hear from Jenny.

First, let’s start with a fun question, what are you most looking forward to in 2023, outside of work?

I’ve got a trail race in the summer, which I’m excited about. I’m running it with a few friends, which should be fun.

Tell me about your career path to Sprig. What did you study, what did you think you want to do, and what led you to this role?

I took a pretty nonlinear route, but the journey from banker to investor to operator has provided a lot of perspective. I studied finance in college, joined Wall Street out of school and thought I’d be a career banker. Through that experience, I got exposed to the IPO process and the idea of taking a company public sounded really interesting. I subsequently worked at two companies and helped them through that process. While Sprig is the youngest start-up I’ve worked at, the idea of building a finance team sounded really intriguing and a good next step in my career.

When did you decide to make the transition from working in the finance world to working in tech? What was exciting about that move and how did the expectation v. the reality compare?

The decision came down to breath vs depth. The benefit as a banker or investor is the exposure to a plethora of different companies and business models, but in turn, you don’t really get to see how the sausage is made. On the flip side, as an operator, you are immersed in the good, the bad and the ugly of one company.

I’ve enjoyed my time as an operator, particularly the strategic elements of building and scaling.

How would you describe your leadership and/or collaboration style? Are there mentors you’ve learned from along the way?

I strive to be a great finance partner to the business and to lead by example. I’ve had the opportunity to work cross functionally and with a lot of different people so I like to think that collaboration is a strength. Of course, you should ask my team if that’s true!

In terms of mentors, I’ve been fortunate to surround myself with some incredible mentors throughout my career. My grandma and mom are two forces of nature who both have had incredible professional careers and instilled in me the value of a strong work ethic.

What are you most looking forward to in 2023 with Sprig? As you grow your team, what are you excited to accomplish?

We’ve made some big changes in 2022 and I’m looking forward to executing this year. I’m also fully prepared for a very tough year and my priority is to help manage the business so we’re well positioned to really scale when the economy picks up.

How do you see Sprig’s mission reflected in its culture and everyday values?

Our mission of helping our customers design better experiences for their users is reflected in what we do day in and day out. In our weekly all hands meetings, it’s great hearing updates from the team on how our product impacts our customers and new features we’re launching to make the collection of consumer insights easier.

Now, let’s end on another non-work question. What is something that your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

I love the outdoors, but I actually hate camping (ironic right?).

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