Corner Office Q&A: Mary Wallace Jaensch And Rachel Braun Scherl Of Semprae Labs, Working On The Science Of Improving Sex
11:00 am, December 5th | by Hillary Reinsberg
While we spend a lot of time writing about powerful women, we also like to hear from those women, in their own words. In today’s Q&A, we spoke with Mary Wallace Jaensch and Rachel Braun Scherl, CEO and President, respectively, of Semprae Laboratories. What does Semprae do? In their own words, “Semprae Laboratories, Inc. is a unique company focused on improving women’s sex lives in meaningful ways.” Meaningful, indeed! Mary and Rachel tell us how Shakespeare’s Hamlet inspires them and they also remind us to keep eating our Wheaties.
Put simply, what exactly do you do?
Manufacture and market evidence-based solutions for women (and their partners) to improve their sexual health and wellness.
And how’d you end up there?
A venture capitalist with whom we are close reviewed a business plan and said, “This is isn’t for me, but I think you and Mary should run this.”
What did you dream of being when you were a kid?
At various times, a professional figure skater, a ballerina, or a teacher.
Before noon, you’ve already…Depending on the day…
Rachel: worked out, driven my son to the school bus, driven somewhere else (office, meeting, airport) completed dozens of phone calls with team members and vendors, scheduled more, completed an interview with a media person, developed a creative idea with Mary, evaluated and reviewed budgets, spoken to an expert in some particular area of meaning for our business, discussed new product launch plans.
Mary: Driven across the Tappan Zee Bridge, confirmed shipment of new product, revised documents for Board meeting, discussed strategic partnership with consultant, reviewed financial statements and sales forecast, initiated customer satisfaction survey, scheduled travel to Walmart, discussed new creative ideas with Rachel, vid-chat with my daughter in London…
You work best when …
We can sink our teeth into a big issue that requires creative problem-solving.
What would you tell a young woman who wants your job someday?
You better eat your Wheaties. Obviously, you need to be skilled and capable to successfully do what the job requires, BUT maybe more importantly, you need endurance – tons and tons of endurance. It is absolutely a marathon, not a sprint. And passion for what you do – it is the fuel for the endurance. For us, having a partner whom you trust, respect and share core values is also a critical element.
What do you wear to work?
Business casual on most days except when we have a media event – then it is TV-ready dresses (Rachel) , pant suits and scarves (Mary).
Women shouldn’t underestimate the value of …
Being effective negotiators, having strong selling skills, knowing what you are good at – and where you need outside input, understanding the value of collaboration AND confident decision-making.
What was the first thing you splurged on after making it big?
A day of spa pampering.
If you weren’t in this career, what would you be doing?
Motivational speaking, strategy consulting or teaching.
What’s the best advice anyone’s ever given you?
Rachel: My dad used to give me his version of the speech Polonius gave to his son, Laertes, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, before Laertes heads back to school. “Neither a borrower or lender be…” Translation: Be independent, take care of your business, stick to your core values.
Mary: I have always found Stephen Covey’s insights extremely valuable. The concept of his that I find that I think about most often is to make sure that you are spending time on the things that matter most to you.
Describe your ideal retirement plans.
No to do list. Lots of yoga and pilates, even more opportunities to help people – spend more time with family and friends, lots of laughing, reading and movies.