When she was just nine years old, Jocelyn Hagerman’s grandfather took ownership of race horses. Jocelyn was fascinated. The animals had a majestic appeal and she was determined to ride them – determined to get a taste of the experience felt by the jockeys who once held their reins.
“My family’s knowledge of riding was extremely limited and my attempts to learn were unsuccessful to say the least,” Jocelyn says. “I kept falling off, which was incredibly scary, but I continued to try over and over and over.”
These traumatic attempts translated into a fear of riding, yet her obsession with horses continued. “In my 30s, I decided that if someone could teach me proper riding technique, I just knew I would love it,” she says. Boy, was she right! Jocelyn combined determination with the right training and not only learned to ride, but developed into a successful competitor.
Like the businesses she supports today as president of Skypoint Ventures and CEO of the Hagerman Foundation, hard work and dedication have allowed her put herself out there despite fear of the unknown.
Although I have lived and worked in Genesee County for the last 18 years, I actually grew up in the Upper Peninsula. I distinctly remember my first trip to Flint. While in high school, my friend and I made the trek down to cheer on our Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils hockey team in the state finals. Although we came for the game, as Yooper teenagers, the Genesee Valley Mall made quite an impression – it was the largest shopping center we had ever seen.
Where did you go to college?
I stayed close to home for my first year of college and attended Lake State University. I then transferred to Central Michigan University to study education, but eventually switched my focus, earning a degree in the applied arts.
What aspects of your career are the most exciting?
Both Skypoint Ventures and the Hagerman Foundation are dynamic businesses that offer unique challenges and opportunities every single day. While the work can be hectic and the days can run long, the fact that our initiatives are having a positive impact on people and communities is truly what drives me.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
I love being able to create game-changers that improve the image and quality of life in Flint – it’s our passion. We were honored last fall when our efforts were recognized with the Ferris State University Humanitarian Award, a 25-year award from the Ferris Foundation that has been given only two other times in the 100-year history of Ferris. We were completely shocked to be the third recipient. Our life’s work centers around helping others and to be recognized by our peers was truly an exciting surprise.
On what career goal are you most focused right now?
After completing work on the Dryden Building, our focus has turned to the historic Ferris Building. Once home to the Ferris Bros. Fur Company, renovations are underway to create The Ferris Wheel. The building will encapsulate an innovation ecosystem catering to professional and creative companies and individuals. Plans include office, conference and co-work spaces combined with innovation, start-up and entrepreneurial support programs that will provide opportunities for close collaboration and shared resources for members of the building. The Skypoint model centers around creating partnerships with individuals and organizations to help them bring their promising ideas to fruition. As these relationships form, it also moves us toward our goal of moving the needle on economic development in Greater Flint.
How has Flint shaped who you are today?
I had the fortunate opportunity to volunteer through the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center. By serving as an instructor as part of their wellness initiative, I was able to really get to know the women of the surrounding community and gain deeper insight into the challenges they face. This experience prompted me to think about ways our company’s resources could help provide sustainable solutions for those in need.
Later service on the N.E.W. Life Board provided me with perspective on the granting process. This proved tremendously helpful when we launched the Hagerman Foundation, as I was able to understand the intricacies for both the grantees and grantors.
Are there any special people who influenced you?
The work ethic and passion consistently displayed by my horse trainer, Sena Bowling, has been an inspiration. In her position, she’s not only tasked with dealing with a host of human personalities, but she’s also managing the varying characteristics of the horses. She then has to develop the bond between horse and rider into a working relationship that will allow them to compete together. This ability to foster teams that can produce desired outcomes is a highly sought-after skill in the corporate world – and she’s mastered it with animals in the mix! Also, the fact that she helped get me over my fear of riding and turned me into someone capable of competing on a national level is a miracle.
I also feel very fortunate to be able to be on this journey alongside my husband and business partner, Phil. He really is a true team leader. Whether he’s working with a health care professional at Diplomat Pharmacy, a start-up tech business backed by Skypoint or a community service organization supported by the Hagerman Foundation, his leadership and creativity empowers those around him and helps position them for success. His ability to cultivate positive relationships is amazing.
What do you hope for the future of your professional field?
We launched Skypoint because we wanted to create a vehicle to help the community while also fostering the ideas of aspiring entrepreneurs. That is taking place downtown at the Dryden Building, Ferris Building and other planned development projects. Our hope is that these restoration efforts serve as a catalyst for additional investors to consider the opportunities that Flint offers.
What do you hope for the future of Flint?
Flint provides a long runway from which to launch your dreams and we hope our work inspires other firms and foundations to invest in the area. This city and its people have a proud history and a determined spirit. If you want to be part of a great comeback story, this is the place to do it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Hands-down, my first priority is my family. My daughter and I share a love of cooking, the entire family is passionate about downhill skiing and we’ve got plans to earn our scuba diving certification together. Whether we are traveling, attending a sporting event, or simply hanging out with close friends, we’re always up for a new adventure together.
I also spend a good portion of my time in the barn working with my horses, Burt, Parker, Simba and Ace.
Phtotography by Eric Dutro