From: The Lawyers Weekly
By Geoff Kirbyson
April 25 2008
Jennifer Jones’s life is a pressure cooker and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
The in-house counsel at Wellington West Capital has only just resumed handling employment contracts and merger and acquisition documents for the Winnipeg-based brokerage — but the break was hardly a vacation. Instead, the 33-year-old spent much of the past two months leading her team to Canadian and world curling titles.
As different as sitting in the hack needing a draw to the button and sitting around a boardroom table plotting corporate strategy may appear, they both require nerves of steel and a cool head, she says.
“The biggest thing is dealing with pressure. I don’t get stressed. You’ve just got to focus on the moment, you can’t look at the outcome because it doesn’t work that way,” she says.
“That’s the biggest thing I’ve brought from curling to work and vice-versa, dealing with stressful situations. I’ve always had a lot going on in my life; I’ve always had different jobs to get myself through school. That’s how I was raised. I couldn’t do what I do without being able to manage my time and deal with stress because my life is full of stress.”
Indeed, millions of Canadians witnessed Jones come back from so much adversity during her championship runs that somebody is going to have to come up with a new cliché to describe her team’s accomplishments. First, they reeled off eight straight must-win games to capture their second national title, including stealing the winning points in both the semi-final and final. They continued their cardiac ways by doing the same thing in the world’s semi-final against a surprising Japanese team after coming back from three down in the ninth end. They defeated China 7-4 in a relatively uneventful final where they led most of the way.
All this from the same lawyer who executed what is widely considered the greatest final stone in the history of curling — an in-off for three to win her first national title in 2005.
Jones credits her unique working arrangement at Wellington West for being able to live out her dreams. When CEO Charlie Spiring hired her more than two years ago, they agreed on a flexible schedule that would allow her to travel to bonspiels, practise and work out.
She often makes up for lost time in the summer or during weekend bonspiels early in the curling season.
“If I know I’ll be gone from Friday to Monday then I try to get all my work done by Thursday. If that means I work until 11 o’clock at night, I work until 11 o’clock at night. When I’m at work I’m probably the most focused person you’ll ever meet, she says.
When she’s travelling with her team, however, work is never far from her mind.
“I have a laptop and a Blackberry. If I have to draft or revise a contract, I’ll do it at night in my room and then e-mail it when the day is over. I know what needs to get done and I can manage it over that time. If we have two games that day my team will usually go out for dinner but I’ll just order room service and work and that’s fine. That’s the decision that I’ve made. I want to have a career and I want to curl,” she says.
Jones has arguably the biggest media profile of any lawyer in the country but she rarely has to answer legal questions. The day after winning the worlds, she did six television interviews and she’s been quoted in every newspaper in the country.
“It’s not every day you get a chance to be on Canada AM so we’re pretty excited,” she says.
And yes, curlers, particularly in Winnipeg, can be celebrities. Jones says anywhere she goes takes a half-hour longer than she thinks it’s going to and she’s constantly signing autographs.
“The last time we won, I’d be walking in the supermarket and people would be following me with their carts. It’s hard to believe that people are supporting us so much. We’re really honoured,” she says.
As crazy as the last two months have been for Jones and her teammates, things could get ratcheted up to an altogether new level if they’re able to win the qualifying tournament to represent Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
Jones is confident they can get there and emerge from the world’s largest stage wearing gold medals around their necks.
“The bigger the shot, the better I’ll play. I don’t want to let my team down,” she says.