Lessons from an Intrapreneur: Career Advice from Susan Jurevics (MBA '96)

Susan Jurevics Headshot
Susan L. Jurevics (MBA ‘96) has been on the leading edge of major brands in the entertainment and culture space throughout her career, from VP roles at Sony, where she worked on the James Bond and Spider-Man franchises, to CEO of J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore, to heading up Audible Escape, a new subscription content stream focused on love stories and uplifting content at the audio entertainment company. 

But Jurevics didn’t start out in business, noting that her path to a Stern degree included a year spent re-learning calculus. Jurevics, who is a member of the Stern Alumni Council, studied studio art and art history during undergrad, after which she worked at Nickelodeon for several years when it was only a decade-old company.

Jurevics says that during this time, she had to come to terms with realizing that succeeding as a commercial artist was unlikely for her, so she needed to find a new way to channel her passions into a career. This decision led Jurevics to the Langone Part-time MBA program, a decision that has led to a wide-ranging career spanning companies, industries, and continents.

“I’m probably at my best when I’m an entrepreneur in a corporate environment,” Jurevics says, a fitting summary of the seemingly diverse leadership roles she has held at a variety of companies, including her new role at Audible. Speaking to a group of current MBA students at a recent SWIB event, Jurevics shared that being in a position of innovating from within has come with career and life lessons, from the power of a strong network to getting comfortable with uncertainty.  

On Networks

“You need it more than you know, and when you need it, it’s impossible to build it,” Jurevics says. She advises finding a point of connection with people, and then building on that over time. She also notes that many people fixate on just getting in the room with the right person, but figuring out what you need out of the meeting is much more important. 

“It’s not about getting the meeting,” she says. “It’s about what you do when you’re in it.”

On Company Culture

“Culture is supremely important,” Jurevics says. Finding a company that is the right fit for you outweighs almost any other factor because culture fit is essential to being able to make a difference and lead effectively. 
“It trumps the job and the title,” she says. “It is more important than taking your ideal job.”

But even when a company or role isn’t the right place, making the choice to leave behind the positive aspects, such as great colleagues or a dedicated team, can still be a difficult one. In those circumstances, Jurevics says that in the end, “your responsibility is to yourself.”

On Uncertainty

“You will never have all the information you need to make a decision, and you have to get comfortable with that,” she says. Whether it’s moving to a new company or taking a new strategic direction on a project, Jurevics says there’s no such thing as having all the answers up front. She notes that putting yourself in situations where you’re a little uncomfortable is essential to growth, and the best way to approach new roles is simply to find someone who’s been there before, and talk to them.

“It’s not a hard ask, but no one asks,” she says.

On Choice

“You always have a choice, and you need to exercise that,” Jurevics says. “I didn’t wind up in these jobs by default.” She says being intentional about career moves, and remembering that career needs to fit into your life, not the other way around, is essential.

On Leadership

“You have to make the tough decisions, which are often not the popular ones,” Jurevics says. When the time comes to do so, she advises diffusing the emotion out of the choices as much as possible. “Use data, be democratic,” she says.

Jurevics notes that in today’s business environment, leaders often supervise people with different skill sets than their own, and may not be familiar with the details of how every team member does their job. Because of this, being able to build trust within the team and learning to ask the right questions are essential skills.

“My job is to ask questions and to see around corners,” she says, noting that leaders must find ways to foster open communication while maintaining professional relationships with their team members.

"Chemistry among individuals on the team is important, and builds trust and respect. As a leader, you have to create a safe space for people to come to you with bad news,” Jurevics says. “This can be through small things, like literally having everyone sit at the same table and participate in the conversation.” 

Hear more of Susan’s story on the Stern Chats podcast.