Ken Jautz ’78, executive vice president of CNN, returned to campus Friday to recount his career in media and his student experience at ILR that he says accounts for his success as a professional.
“Now truth be told, I am not the most obvious candidate to stand here and speak at an ILR event,” Jautz said to a crowd of students, staff and faculty in Ives Hall. “I didn’t work in HR, I didn’t work in employment law, in government or government policy, I didn’t work in the labor movement.”
“But, the funny thing is that the lessons I learned here, they helped me in ways that I wasn’t even aware of for a long time, and then it became a much bigger part of my life than I would have ever thought possible,” he said.
Jautz was the keynote speaker for the ILR Alumni Association’s Student-Alumni Career Pathways: Endless Possibilities forum, a program that highlights the varied careers suitable for ILR graduates.
The program included alumni panelists engaging with students on specific topics areas. This year’s topics included: Finance and Wall Street; Consulting, Entrepreneurs, and Other Business Careers; Labor Movement, Government and Social Justice; and Sports, Entertainment and Media.
Jautz currently runs CNN’s Operations Department, the largest unit in the news network, with about 1,000 people.
The department manages and organizes editors, photographers, directors, control rooms and studios across the U.S., as well as in Hong Kong and London. Basically, the unit handles all of the behind the scenes work that viewers never think about, he said.
Through the nature of this role, according to Jautz, he spends a significant amount of time meeting with HR executives and employment attorneys, as well as thinking about departmental culture, organizational structure, fostering motivation and encouraging communication.
In many ways, Jautz said, he identifies with ILR’s tagline – advancing the world of work.
“That’s my job. In some ways, I’m helping advance CNN’s world of work.”
“I can honestly say that I would not have had the career I did, or be able to advance along the path that I did, had I not been a student here.”
“The ability to communicate well, in writing and speaking, the ability to think analytically and creatively, I would say they are the most important skills in the workplace. So all in all, Cornell and the ILR experience did prepare me for my career.”
Jautz began his career as a local newspaper reporter and correspondent for the Associated Press. He joined CNN as the Germany bureau chief. Among the stories he covered were the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War and the Balkan conflicts.
He then worked for Turner Broadcasting as a business development executive and as managing director of Germany’s first all-news television channel.
Returning to CNN in 2010, Jautz oversaw programming on its main domestic channel, and during his tenure the network received critical acclaim for its reporting, including Peabody and Emmy awards for coverage of the Arab Spring in 2011.
In closing, Jautz listed three lessons he has learned over his career for students to take away— take risks, be persistent and break out of your comfort zone.
The education ILR and Cornell provide, he reassured students, prepares them for success. “Don’t worry, you’ll do just fine,” he concluded.