2012 Forty Under 40: Jenny R. Massey

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Jenny R. Massey
Where were you, and what were you doing in 1991?
I graduated from Peru High School one semester early in December of 1990 so I could work full-time in preparation for my freshman year at Indiana University.

When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
An archaeologist. I followed that path in college, graduated and made a whopping $12,000 the following year. That was not even going to pay my student loans. I associated archaeology with travel, and even though there are archaeologists who are quite happy to work in the Midwest, I was not one of them. A baby can change your life plans very quickly; the African countryside wasn’t going to be the optimal place for her to grow up. So we had to switch gears.

Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
I abandoned a career (though not my interest) in archaeology in 1996, went to San Francisco for training in English as a second language and then flew to the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, for a job teaching English at a small conversation school. This was a life-changing experience. We had only planned to stay two years, but through some enterprising business opportunities we ended up on the main island of Honshu in the city of Nagoya and stayed seven years.

Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
To be semi-retired. I should be authoring books and painting, living in a beach house somewhere warm. I would like to have the ability to travel to different countries with family. Of course, I’m hoping by this time that I have become an accomplished international business person as well as someone who has given back to the community through volunteer service in various organizations such as the America China Society and Kiwanis Club.

Director of operations, Bingham Economic Development Advisors
Age: 38

Living and working in Japan for seven years opened Jenny Massey’s eyes to the possibilities of cross-cultural business relationships.

Today, as director of operations at Bingham Economic Development Advisors in Indianapolis, she helps companies considering relocation or expansion.

“It’s an interesting little niche to be in,” said Massey, who grew up in Peru, Ind., and always wanted to “see the world.” At Bingham, she researches the locations companies are interested in and studies costs, climate and environmental restrictions. She also negotiates with local and state governments to see what kind of business support they might offer, such as tax abatements, tax credits, help with infrastructure or training grants.

After companies decide on projects, she helps them make long-range plans and figure out capital investment needs.

Massey, her husband and baby daughter went to Japan after she graduated from Indiana University in 1996 with a degree in archeology, stopping first in San Francisco to earn a certificate to teach English.

She taught English in a “conversation school” and learned to speak Japanese. Later, she worked for corporations such as Time’s Asia operation, Dentsu Inc. and Chubu Electric.

“I really opened myself to doing things like marketing, communications and a lot of strategic development,” she said. Being bilingual opened doors, she learned. Before returning to the United States, she earned a post-graduate degree in policy analysis from Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

She enjoys putting people together for mutual benefit.

She has also been working with Albert Chen, founder of Carmel-based Telamon Corp., to launch the America China Society, a not-for-profit that helps Indiana businesses build relationships with Chinese companies. The group does basic coaching: how to hold chop sticks, make small talk, how to act with the Chinese.

“Chinese culture is similar to Japanese, yet oh so different,” she said. In April, she is accompanying several members on a trip to China for business meetings.

Now single, she and her daughter live in Fishers.•


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