From Investment Manager to Internationally Best-selling Author
Updated: Sep 8, 2019
Say her name; know her story. We ask phenomenal women to narrate the story of their lives in five chapters. They name each chapter and explain why each chapter is named the way it is, allowing them to share their story in their own words, and showcase their milestones, hardships, and decisions along the way.
If anyone ever tells you that you can’t have it all, you just need to respond with two words: Jenny. Witterick.
Jenny started her own international investment firm in 2004, authored a best-selling novel about Holocaust heroes in 2013, and then casually produced an incredibly successful Toronto musical in 2016 about what truly makes us happy. What makes US happy? Seeing women take life by the balls and do whatever they want, whenever they want, and do it extremely well. What makes an inspirational, passionate and intelligent #fenom like Jenny happy? Read on to find out.
“We’re going on a trip.”
Those were the last words young Jenny heard before her life was permanently moved to the land where words are written sideways instead of up and down, maple syrup defines an entire country, and shaved ice falls from the sky. (Good thing shaved ice is Jenny’s favourite dessert from her home country of Taiwan - free dessert is always appreciated).
Her story, like so many immigrant families, is one of bravery, ambition and adversity. Without knowing a word of English, her parents moved Jenny and her brother to Canada with $200 to their name. That’s right - they moved across the entire world with the same amount of cash that you pitched for bottle service last Saturday. Buying the season’s latest pair of Gucci slides wasn’t really in the cards for them either.
In fact, her parents were so afraid that she would grow too quickly, so they bought her a single, dramatically oversized polka-dot coat to ensure she didn’t outgrow it before they could afford anything new. A couple of decades later, absurdly oversized clothing would be made trendy by superstar hip hop artists. But at the time, the jacket and the rest of Jenny’s wardrobe kept her far from being a fashion icon at school.
Despite her vivid recollections of feeling like an outcast, hanging out alone by a chained fence day by day, the memories of her childhood yield no sadness in Jenny’s eyes. In fact, she credits much of her writing to the ostracisation she encountered at such a young age, and says that those experiences were the catalyst to her writing career. At a young age, she understood the meaning of empathy, emotion, and understanding, because they were things that she craved so deeply.
“Every experience is valuable in some way...it can always be used in some way.”
Luckily for Jenny, she was young enough to pick up English quickly and eventually grew out of her awkward phase. Ever met a seven year old girl who’s the main breadwinner of her family? You have (sort of) now. As a young (again - SEVEN year old) hustler, Jenny found her way into the modelling world, earning money that would be put towards keeping her family afloat. She even spent her school recesses cleaning up teachers’ dishes for 50 cents a day. Every penny made an impact. Yeah, we know inflation is a thing, but doesn’t that make everyone feel just a tiny bit guilty for spending $18 for a piece of Ezekiel bread with half an avocado smashed onto it?
Growing up, just like most other immigrants, dollar signs floated around in her dreams.
Being rich would solve all the family’s problems. Being rich would bring happiness to the family. Being rich would finally grant her mother’s one wish - a damn big house.
Jenny kept her hustle going, working part time throughout high school and ultimately receiving a full scholarship to attend the University of Toronto. She went into the investment world and, with the invaluable help of her mentors (success requires help people!), made partner when she was still in her 20s. With the dream of having her very own piece of sky, she started her own company, Sky Investment Counsel.
And then she bought her mother that dream house.
Despite her success, Jenny no longer believes that money and happiness go hand in hand. What she knows is that “our society is wacky”; it’s nonsensical to base your worth on money because not everyone who makes a lot deserves it, and some who don’t make a lot, do. Again I’ll ask: how much happiness did that $700 bottle of Grey Goose bring you the next morning? I rest my case.
What she realized was that “success is just loving what you do.”
And whether it’s starting an investment firm or writing a best-selling novel, Jenny certainly makes sure to love what she does. When she found the story that My Mother’s Secret is based on, she knew it had to be shared. It was a life-changing story that she felt responsible for telling, and doing it well. Regardless of the dollars that were flowing her way through investment management, she was compelled to follow a new path that was perhaps less lucrative, but hit far closer to her heart.
My Mother’s Secret was published in March 2013. The book tells the true, yet untold, story of a mother and daughter who saved the lives of multiple Jewish families during the Holocaust. And did we mention, Jenny SELF-PUBLISHED the novel? Now that’s a power move.
Today, Jenny Witterick is an International Best-Selling Author and champion of social justice. Watch her video interview for more.
Written by: Hannah Geiser and Michelle Kwok