She's not quite janice
I spent almost 3 weeks in the US recently, meeting a number of you lovely clients.
Well, good old synchronicity stepped in as my old friend from my first 'proper' job, (we started on the same day) Angela Cooper was in town at the same time I was in San Francisco. (Angela is kind of a big deal in the Software Industry.......she is GM of Worldwide Customer Success Strategy at Microsoft).
As we reminisced during dinner, I asked Angela if she would like to do an interview for my audience. Now I had, just a few days earlier, met 'Janice from Friends' by the pool in Hollywood and sat chatting with her for an hour. Angela's words were, "Well i'm not quite Janice but i'd love to". So more on Janice next time, but i thought Angela's story was probably more relevant :-).
So here it is.....
N: What did you initially want to do for a career and what did you do at University / what was your degree in?
A: I wanted to be a Geologist so studied Geology at college - luckily I was advised to add business to my degree which gave me more options!
N: How did you get into software sales?
A: I was selling telco equipment to a newspaper and they had an add from a startup looking for sellers who wanted to get into software sales but didn't have experience!
N: Which people have been most inspirational on your journey?
A: I have worked for some incredible leaders who have inspired me to be like them - and some that inspired me to do the opposite! I've also been inspired by people who have worked for me that overcame huge obstacles in their lives - personal tragedies, health issues and challenging business issues - but who found strength to come through them and become stronger as a result. But if I had to single out a couple of people it would be those that took a chance on me - from the schoolteacher who encouraged me to go to University when I didn't think that was possible, to my first sales leader who gave me a shot at selling, to the leader of the startup who hired me with no software experience, and my first Microsoft manager who felt so strongly about me joining as a security specialist that he convinced the company to create a role for me.
N: How did you get your first job at Microsoft? (Yes she drops the BG bomb :-)
A: Bill Gates wrote his Trustworthy computing memo in Jan 2002 and I thought my experience in security software and managed service would be relevant - so I sent in my CV! It took me 9 months and a couple of different role paths - eventually they designed a role specifically for me. I am glad the first role I went for didn't work out - finding the right role to enter a large company is so important to being successful and I would encourage anyone looking to join Microsoft or any big company to find the right role or you will have a very hard time.
N: What has been the most challenging role you've done so far and why?
A: I had the opportunity to lead Azure Enterprise sales (along with Windows and SQL server) for Microsoft at a time when Azure was very new. We had to challenge the norms and build a cloud business in an on premise centric org and build a new type of field sales muscle with focus on technical architecture. It was great fun but very challenging and I learned a lot about transformation and how hard and important cultural change can be in a large company.
N: What has been your favourite role so far and why?
A: My favourite roles have always been leading large field orgs. Strategy is mentally challenging which has its own rewards but field orgs are so much more fun - I get a huge amount of energy from leading people to success and helping them grow and develop.
N: What is your management style and what characteristics do you look for most when hiring?
A: My management style is fun, strategic and people centric. I believe in working smarter not harder and that you must have true diversity for a team to succeed (not just male/female - diversity of thinking, backgrounds, skills etc.). I've learned the hard way that hiring too many people like me doesn't work so I try and ensure I don't bring unconscious bias into hiring and managing teams.
N: Have you ever found being a female in the Software Industry a barrier and if so, how did you deal with it?
A: I've never found it a barrier but I know I am lucky in who I worked for. As I get more senior I do see pressure to have more traits typically associated with males (strength, power, aggression) but I have tried to resist focus on things that are just not in my nature.
N: What's the best piece of advice you could give someone about being successful in this industry?
A: 2 things come to mind. First, be known for something - whether it is a specialist business or product or a skill set - it gives your leaders a reason to consider you for the next thing and a way to recognise you. Second - run towards the fires - the difficult stuff and the new things - you will evolve by doing this and learn quickly. But make sure these are fires not volcanoes and that there is good leadership managing the fire.
If you need help finding leaders and senior talent for your software company, please get in touch NOW to schedule a call with me.
Until next time,