Julie Stafford joins Tangoe as the new Senior Vice President of Strategic Consulting where she will be focusing on consulting with Tangoe’s customers to find the absolute optimal way to enhance enterprise cloud expense management. With over 15 years of experience – ten of that being directly in enterprise solutions – Julie brings a wealth of knowledge and background that will be benefit both Tangoe’s MatrixCloud offering and its customers.
While Julie’s career began in business development, her passion for technology grew over the course of her professional tenure and she began seeking ways to help businesses. Before starting her own consulting firm for emerging technologies, Julie was the Executive Director for the CIO Global Forum. Here, she was responsible for putting together events in addition to helping to plan high-level agendas for the attending CIOs, CTOs, CEOs, leading analysts and media figures. In this role, Julie gained valuable insights into the enterprise IT world from some of the world’s most in-touch C-suite executives.
From these greatly informative experiences, Julie is ready to consult with Tangoe’s enterprise customers specifically on their current cloud management solutions. She will share with prospective and existing Tangoe clients how MatrixCloud can drastically change the way organizations think about cloud management and usage through technical, financial and security risk monitoring, assessment and optimization.
To get to know Julie better, we conducted a Q&A session:
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I realized at the beginning of my career, that it is easier to learn what you don’t want to do than to learn what you do want to do. I’ve always been an explorer, whether I was heading off to backpack around the world solo at the age of 21 for a year or starting one of two successful businesses. From early on, I learned that no matter where you are in the world, people are people. All are driven to survive and many more are driven to succeed. Helping people around me succeed, not just survive, has been my focus for every position I’ve taken and every business I’ve started. If you can encourage the people around you to be successful, you in turn will also be successful. Business is about people… finding ways to bring the best out of every colleague and every customer so that they feel a sense of accomplishment and that they are a part of a winning team.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Tangoe?
All of my past experiences have culminated in the position that I currently have here at Tangoe. From learning enterprise sales in TEM at Vercuity, whose book of business was ultimately acquired by Tangoe (many of my clients from more than 10 years ago are still clients!) to overseeing the CIO Global Forum where I was able to learn what is important to the C-suite, to starting Stafford & Associates, an emerging technology consulting firm, I have been groomed for this position for the last 10 years. With my knowledge of the rapidly emerging cloud space, I was able to bring best-in-class partnerships to the practice, catapulting Tangoe ahead of any other organization in this space. The expense management world is quickly becoming one of partnerships and alliances. I’ve learned that no matter the size of the organization, you can’t do it all alone. Align with the right partners and you will find yourself with a competitive advantage.
What highlights and challenges have you experienced during your tenure at Tangoe?
The highlight of my first 60 days has been bringing two trusted partnerships to Tangoe and watching our cloud consulting practice expand daily. I’m amazed at the support the organization has shown and thrilled to be working with the caliber of people I’ve found at Tangoe. The biggest challenge, as occurs when joining any large company, is one of exposure. Exposure to the people, exposure to the capabilities of our proprietary technology, exposure to operations, and exposure to all of the talents we have in the people I now work with which all just takes time. The best part, though, is that I love to learn and explore – and I’m not afraid to dive in head first. I figure I can overcome the challenge of exposure by working backwards from opportunities and asking a lot of questions.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
If there is a position or a task that you want, ask for it. Aim high. Don’t be afraid. Everyone who takes on a new role has “never done that before”. Fear is natural but if you harness that fear, you can use it to drive you to new knowledge, new positions and new opportunities. As a woman in IT, you actually have an advantage. Companies are looking for women in IT, as there is a large gender gap in most IT organizations (today only 14% of CIOs around the globe are women). I have always maintained that no matter what your gender, you need to constantly network and learn new skills. Emulate the smartest, most successful person at your company. Hire people smarter than you. Invest in yourself. Ask for continuing education. Become an expert at prioritization. Figuring out what must be done immediately to garner the best results in the end is an art. Dress for success. And sometimes you must feign the confidence you don’t have.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
Business is business. Train yourself not to take things personally. If things don’t go the way you planned, keep looking for a way to improve the outcome in the future. Look for ways to pivot and find the niche that brings value to your clients.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
As a female executive, success is important. If you are succeeding at work and not at home, you have fallen short. When I am not traveling for work to visit customers, I work from home as much as possible, so that I am around for as many of the day-to-day experiences as possible. For example, I like to talk to our boys when they get off the bus in the afternoon to find out about their day. I also schedule time with my family. I don’t take calls during dinner time, as this is a time for all of us to reconnect. I also will work late at night or early in the morning to give me the flexibility I need to attend family events. I do work on the weekends, but it is around my family’s schedule so that they don’t feel like they come in second to my career. Additionally, I try to remember to take time for me. When I work from home, I often squeeze in a run between calls or take a well-deserved break to throw a healthy meal together. This provides me with the sense that I’m contributing to my well-being as well as to that of my family’s.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I believe there are two issues.
First, women are nurturers by nature. In speaking with many women, I find that if travel is involved (as it is for most executives), women will often forgo the higher position and pay to be home at night to nurture their children and families. In other words, women hold back if they feel that their ability to care for their families is threatened. There is no way to erase that biological drive, but there are ways to overcome being disconnected from your family in the workplace. Flexible schedules and work-from-home options are becoming readily accepted. We don’t need to miss out on all of our home lives because of our careers.
Second, women are paid 78 cents on the dollar. From the perspective of women, we need to start asking for what we are worth. One of my good girlfriends in business once told me to estimate what I think I should be earning and ask for 40% more. I thought that was great advice, as that 40% puts us in parity with our male counterparts.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I admire many of the female firsts. I just read an article about the first female to run the Boston Marathon, Kathrine Switzer, who had men trying to knock her down to prevent her from finishing the race. It takes a leader to break molds and move the needle forward for women. I admire women like Ella Grasso (first female to be elected as U.S. Governor in CT), Sally Ride, Amelia Earhart, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Danica Patrick who have not let gender in male-dominated areas of our culture prevent them from great achievements. In the business world, I am glad to see women like Cathy Engelbert breaking into a CEO role in one of the big four accounting firms (Deloitte). I read an article about her that spoke to her ability to use what she learned as a college athlete to put her in a position to be considered for CEO. She speaks openly about the challenges of being a mother with a demanding career. She has figured out the balance and hasn’t compromised her work/life balance.
What do you want Tangoe to accomplish in the next year?
In the past, Tangoe has been the leader in Telecom Expense Management, a managed service from which consulting engagements were fostered. In the future, I want cloud consulting to become a main engine for managed services. This is a huge change in approach – and one that, with strategic partnerships, can be achieved quickly, allowing our clients to discover and manage the area of cloud services that is often unquantified and unqualified. So far, everyone I’ve met at Tangoe is on board, which gives me the indication that this year is going to be the best yet for Tangoe, their shareholders and their employees.