As we come to the end of our month-long campaign to spotlight some truly inspiring women within the MakeShift staff, customer, and partner network in recognition of Women's History Month, we acknowledge that one month is not enough to capture the hardships women (still) face, nor fully discuss the rich contributions they make to improve our workplaces, societies, and lives.
No, the conversation is far from over!
We encourage you to keep talking about, celebrating, and supporting the women in your lives as we work together towards creating a more equal world for all. And to inspire you to keep going here is one last story of an amazing woman we have the honor to work with, Jennifer Gordon, VP Sales at AllianceHCM.
Ever since MakeShift partnered with Alliance Human Capital Management to bring our intuitive cloud-based scheduling solution to AllianceHCM customers, Jennifer's leadership not only stood out but left a lasting impression on our team.
Rising from the lowest rung in the sales organization, a cold caller, to Vice President of Sales, Jennifer's story is nothing if not incredibly impressive. In a field where women are still fighting tooth and nail to obtain the same opportunities as men, Jennifer's accomplishments provide a ray of hope.
It is a long-term game
MakeShift: Jenn, thanks for agreeing to share your story with us. We think it is remarkable. Only 25 percent of salespeople in tech are women and far fewer reach the executive level. You have been in sales for 21 years! How did you get your start?
JG: I got my start on the phones, fresh out of college, making cold calls. I remember moving to Texas with my husband and making cold calls for this company managing banking relationships.
I, then, spent the next 10 years of my career running from acquisitions as the first 4 companies that I worked for all ended up being acquired. I was starting to feel the burnout set in, so I knew I needed to find a place I could call home and play the long game.
That place turned out to be AllianceHCM. And here I am 11 years later and still going strong.
MakeShift: Wow, 11 years! That speaks volumes about the culture AllianceHCM has built. How supported do you feel?
JG: There is a reason AllianceHCM has grown into the largest privately-held human capital management (HCM) software provider in the nation. The company strives hard to create a fun, supportive work environment. This in turn creates employees that care deeply about our customers. We have many female leaders across all levels. In fact, our COO started at the company when she was 17!
MakeShift: Looking back can you share some highlights or lessons from your career?
JG: If you want to be in an industry long-term, you have to think long-term. And that is not complicated if you know this one thing: being able to stay somewhere long-term and grow your career comes down to your reputation. You can build your reputation by doing these three things (that I live by): staying humble, working hard, and being kind. If you can do these three things, you are going to succeed.
Play to your strengths
MakeShift: That's great advice! But have you faced any challenges being a woman in sales?
JG: I have been in sales since my twenties. To be a woman in sales you need to know your worth. I don't try to be someone who I am not. I have seen a lot of women be very successful in their twenties but their focus was on sex appeal. And that's not the long game.
You have to play the long game and be willing to work hard. I have never seen my gender as anything but an asset. Women are naturally good communicators and people appreciate clear, concise communication. I play to my strengths.
MakeShift: Play to your strengths! Nicely said. Is there anything you would do differently if you could?
JG: I heard something from Bob Goff, author of Everybody, Always, about being present and available and it really resonated with me. Early on in my career, I was very task-focused. Looking back, I would say, do not put tasks above people.
It is okay to desire balance
MakeShift: What advice would you give to other women who are looking to become leaders in their own industries?
JG: I would like to share these three insights with them:
- Stand firm in who you are.
- Always look for opportunities to grow. I believe in the saying "readers are leaders". I read 2-3 books at a time, at all times. You should always be reading and learning new things. Don't sit around waiting for someone to tell you what to do to advance your career. Seek answers yourself.
- And finally, it is okay to desire balance between work and personal life. Every woman struggles with it. It is completely normal.
The theme for this year's International Women's Day was #BreakTheBias. To learn more about the biases women face and how you can help break stereotypes, visit internationalwomensday.com