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How Jessie Ju Finds Success with her Confucian Spirit

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As the founder of Juniper, a boutique management consulting firm on Bay Street in Toronto, Jessie Ju has made a name for herself as a sharp strategist with a history of successful business launches, mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring projects.

Her professional biography paints a success story—the picture of a no-nonsense woman who can juggle multi-million-dollar deals and hold her own in a room full of men and women competing for power and money. So, when Ju, wearing a flowing white dress, welcomed us to her office with a warm smile, we were delightfully surprised.

As soon as we sat down together, we knew we had found someone special. Ju’s ability to set a room at ease and make people feel valued is precisely what sets her apart in the high-pressure world of corporate management.

Juniper’s clients come from around the world and cover a wide array of industries, from manufacturing to marketing and everything in between. Ju’s breadth of experience with such diverse groups of people has helped her develop a keen sense of project priorities, regardless of circumstances.

“It seems complicated, but when you really get down to it, my job is to make sure the deal gets completed in the mutual interest of each stakeholder,” Ju says. “It’s important to genuinely understand everyone’s agenda and align that to a common goal.”

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Jessie Ju, founder and owner of management consulting firm Juniper, has built her career into a success story.

Embracing opportunity

Ju has worked her way up from the ground floor of the finance industry over the past 20 years. Her work ethic put her in a league of her own, even as a student.

“I did my undergraduate degree at York University part-time because I already had a full-time job as a financial analyst. By the time I finished my undergraduate degree, I was a financial manager,” Ju says.

After graduating, she had the opportunity to work with some of the industry’s top veterans and large financial institutions. Ju became so proficient at advising businesses that she began to think about starting her own company.

One of her ideas for a startup required partnering with a real estate developer, but during the process of interviewing potential partners an entirely different opportunity presented itself.

“After one of the meetings, the builder mentioned he’d acquired a non-profit business with the intention of turning it into a for-profit business,” Ju says.

During the course of their conversation, she offered him insightful advice on his project. “I didn’t end up pursuing the startup idea, and I instead chose to help the company transform its business model,” she says.

After that unexpected encounter, Ju discovered her niche and founded her company, Juniper. She now leads a team of chief financial orchestrators whose bespoke approach to client management has earned them a reputation for success.

The art of communication

Ju says that communication is at the heart of her job. “Every deal has its own character and nature. It all comes down to how we treat people.”

Earlier in her career, Ju was approached by the management of a Japanese company that needed help for a large merger and acquisition project. “They wanted to merge eight companies in various provinces across Canada, involving hundreds of millions of dollars,” she says.

“It was probably the most challenging project I’ve ever completed. Canada was executing a strategic plan created by Japan and, at the same time, we had to report to the U.S. My mission was to create a team with its own value and culture while acquiring and integrating each business into the Canadian company.”

Keeping everyone’s interests and values aligned in such a complicated deal was difficult. She had to communicate subtle differences between motivations and goals across different cultures, time zones, and national borders. The project was full of daily challenges, but one challenge, in particular, taught her the value of empathy in business.

One company owner was refusing to sell, and every negotiating tactic was failing. The buyers were ready to give up, until one day Ju finally understood what was holding the owner back.

“I don’t know how many times we talked, but I finally realized he’d built his whole life around that company. His clients and co-workers were some of his best friends. Every time he went to the office, he wasn’t just doing business, he was living his best life.

He wasn’t ready to leave all that behind even though he was over 70 years old .”

After understanding his situation, Ju negotiated a deal that allowed him to stay on as an independent sales rep. In this way, the deal could move forward, and he could continue to live the life he loved.

“Although this is a financial industry, I think it’s really more about people,” Ju says.

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In her spare time, Ju enjoys reading, travelling, as well as practicing yoga and meditation to relieve stress.

Shared passion

Ju’s company serves a select clientele, almost all of whom come to her through referrals. “I like to work with entrepreneurs who are truly passionate about their mission and dreams, who incorporate their values into their business development, and who strive to make a difference in the world. Those are the things that really give me joy in my work,” she says.

A Taiwanese family approached her recently with a plan to make an electric boat—a kind of Tesla on water. They needed her help to get financing, and they wanted to move quickly.

Ju liked the idea but knew it would be difficult to bring to fruition. Their product was still in the proof-of-concept phase, and it’s usually challenging to get funding in a short period of time.

The head of the family could sense Ju’s hesitation and took the initiative to approach her for a long talk.

“Through that conversation, I saw the father’s heartfelt desire to see his two sons succeed. I was touched by his affection. Perhaps because of their desire for a family legacy, they had planned out their next 20 years, and I saw how well their company fit with my investment philosophy,” Ju says.

She then pursued financing with five banks and a large investor.

“I made many trips to the U.S. and to various banks to answer questions on behalf of this Taiwanese family business—from technical issues about future products and the origin of parts, to how many seats the investors would have on the board of directors once the company was established,” she says.

In the end, after more than half a year of hard work, the family got the capital they needed. Ju speaks about the project with the pride of someone who knows she’s creating genuine value for people.

Mindful success

In a job full of such complex interpersonal relationships and hundreds of millions of dollars at stake in some cases, it’s not easy to keep a peaceful mindset. Still, Ju manages to remain calm in a crisis and modest in success—something she says comes from her Chinese heritage and study of traditional Confucian philosophy.

She also regularly practices yoga, which has become a source of strength and stability for her busy lifestyle.

“I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years, and it brings me bliss every time I step back on my mat. It gives me my own sense of peace,” she says.

Whenever Ju encounters a dilemma or a problem at work, she puts it aside to practice yoga and meditate. “It’s a process of taking care of yourself, of nourishing your mind and heart,” she says.

Another source of inspiration is Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.

“I’ve been trying to follow his four pieces of advice: ‘Be impeccable with your words; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions; and always do your best.’ This has helped me to stay light-hearted,” Ju says.

As for what’s next, she’s focusing on her top priorities.

“I want to share the beauty of the world with everyone. Not only now but also in the future. I think that’s why I want to help sustainable green businesses that take a more long-term view. I want to be improving and solving problems while also giving people hope.”

This story is from Magnifissance Issue 115

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