Leading Women Executives Spring 2019 Event
“Journeys of Ascent: Fellow Success Stories”
Transcript of Panel Discussion
Leading Women Executives Spring 2019 Event
Cheryl Francis: Good morning everybody. For those of you who do not know me, I'm Cheryl Francis, and along with my colleague, Sheila Penrose, we are the founders of Leading Women Executives, and we are also the co-chairmen of Corporate Leadership Center. We are very excited that CDW is hosting us in their beautiful facilities here, and their technology geniuses are helping us broadcast what we're doing as part of our first livestream event. We know that we have alumni from Leading Women Executives all around the world, and more than half of them are coming from across the United States, at this point outside of the Chicago area. So it's great to be able to have the technology to connect us so we can continue to be ambassadors for the program and for each other.
I see that we've got a slide up that I think the people who are livestreaming can also see. That just gives you a representation of who's participating today. These are the livestream participants, and I think we've got 60 or 70 people in the room. So, it's great to have this community of people together and again, many, many thanks to CDW for helping to make all of this happen. We truly appreciate it. Along those lines, we are also very appreciative of the fact that CDW's new CEO, new as of January anyway, Chris Leahy, is with us to kick off the event today. Chris has been an ardent supporter of Leading Women Executives pretty much from the get go of the program. She's also a Fellow, or an alumnus, of our other corporate leadership program, CEO Perspectives, so we feel connected to Chris in many ways, and she's been a tremendous supporter of ours. So please welcome, Chris.
Chris Leahy: Thank you, Cheryl. I love the title, “Journeys of Ascent.” I love that title. Do you all remember periods in your life when you had an "aha" moment? Somebody said something that brought a whole bunch of lessons altogether? Journeys of Ascent. I was hiking, I'm not a hiker, but a colleague, who many of the co-workers in the room know, Ann Ziegler, our former CFO, convinced me to do this crazy hiking journey in California, where they feed you like a thousand calories a day and you do six-hour hikes in the morning in a lot of heat. Let's put it this way, they have a whole area where every morning, you go to get your blisters taken care of. No kidding. So, I was in a very, I'll call it A-Type group; everybody was an overachiever, everybody had done their three months pre-training. By the time they got there, they had been walking for three hours a day, uphill, doing I don't know, all kinds of aerobics. And I'm like, yeah, no, I've done nothing. I'm here to relax. So, I'm in the back the whole time.
I'm walking -- so they have to keep one guide in the back -- so I got Jessie all the time; we became really tight. And I'm not embarrassed to admit I had a couple of falls. Finally, Jessie said to me, he said, "Chris, look. People lean into the mountain a lot. People walk with these big steps. Here's what you need to do. You need to stay vertical." And I was like, stay vertical? "Yes. Stay vertical. Because then you can see where you're going, you can see all around you, you can see what's coming, and you're footing is that much better."
And I thought to myself, that's what I should be telling myself my entire life. Because that's really, when I stay vertical and I take deep breaths, and I don't get caught in just the day to day, but I'm always looking around -- don't lose sight of the goal or what I'm trying to do but have that peripheral vision -- I find myself really much more successful. So I just remembered that story when I saw the title of the discussion today. I've been using it a lot the last three months. Just reminding myself. Some people say “breathe” -- I say, “stay vertical”. Anyway, I wanted to share that story. Welcome everybody. As a technology company, we are, of course, delighted to be connected through technology to the entire community. We have at CDW 24 graduates of the Leading Women Executives program. Why do we have so many? Because we believe deeply in it. I recently had the pleasure of sitting and having, what do we call them? Kibbles? It wasn't really dinner, but it was kind of dinner because there was a lot of good food. We sat around and Nicki and Stephanie both shared leadership stories with us that were amazing. And at the end, I said to the team, one of the things that struck me about this group and the discussion was the gratitude that is palpable from each other.
At CDW, there is a concept that we believe deeply in, which is this notion of individual and collective. And as I think about this program, and I think about what you all are achieving and learning, it is about individual and collective and I felt it when we were at this dinner, this collective dinner, where you have individuals striving to grow and be better, but collectively, the power of acceleration is enormous because they're invested in each other's success. We had individual stories -- hard stories -- but collectively, the power of support is amazing. So, you are what I would call a “gold network,” and you are all incredibly fortunate to have each other, so lean in to it, enjoy the panel. We're delighted to have you. Enjoy the rest of the program. Thank you very much.
Liz Connelly: Thank you, Chris. My name is Liz Connelly, I'm the Chief Human Resource officer here at CDW, joined three months ago. And I'd like to start by saying I wish we'd had that conversation earlier. Because this happened hiking. It would've been very helpful to know that vertical thing. I can't think of a better way to start a day. Look at this incredible room full of women, and to share this experience with all of you who are joining us via livestream. I've had the chance to meet some of the Leading Women Executives Ambassadors here and I can see the impact this program has had on them as leaders and co-workers and really on our organization. We always say actions speak louder than words. Here, actions speak louder than words. One of the many, many reasons I joined this incredible company is that actions speak louder than words here. Half of our executive committee are women. We have an unbelievable women's opportunity network, our business resource group. There are 1,100 members out of 9,300 coworkers and growing. They are empowered, they are amazing, they do great work and they help us all get better every day.
In sales leadership, typically, 5 to 10 percent of the leaders are women. At CDW, it's 25 percent. So, we know we have more work to do. But our actions speak louder than our words, our words are loud as well. We are committed. And we are also committed to partnerships. If we thought we could do it all ourselves, we'd probably be mistaken. Partnerships, like the one we have with Leading Women Executives make us better, gives us that external perspective and gives all of our people, our coworkers, this powerful network. So, I don't want to hold us up any further, I want to get to this amazing panel that already stands before you. But we need to make sure we get everybody on camera here. I'd like to just take a moment to introduce Aletha Noonan. Many of you may know Aletha. She's one of our amazing sales leaders -- Vice President of the Central Region here -- and Aletha is going to kick off this panel. So, thank you, and thank you all for doing this.
Aletha Noonan: Thank you, Liz. I'm going to get a t-shirt that says, "Stay Vertical." A couple of housekeeping notes, for those of you on the phone or on our livestream, you can type questions in the Q & A box. When we get to Q & A, we will take some questions from the room and some from the audience, depending on how many we have. We may not get through all of them, but we wanted to make sure that you are aware of that. For those of you in the room, if I can just remind you to turn off your phones. And for those of you virtual, livestream, let's go ahead and stay close to your computer during the Q & A session so you don't miss the chance to type in that box.
Please allow me to introduce our panel. I got to know them this morning very well. We have Kim, Tricia and Cynthia. I'm going to introduce them individually. But what you should know about them is that their body of work is impressive. I had the opportunity not just to review their bios but to talk to some of their coworkers. And they are just representative of great companies here. They happen to be Chicago-based companies, but also just a great representation of leadership in different capacities. Let me start with Kim Evans. She's a Senior Vice President, Practice Executive, Alternative Funds Services from Northern Trust and Kim participated in the Leading Women Executives program in 2012.
Next, we have Tricia Rothschild, chief product officer from Morningstar. Tricia oversees the portfolio of global businesses serving asset managers, financial advisers, and individual investors that collectively account for approximately 70 percent of the firm's $1 billion dollars in revenue. She sits on the firm's executive committee and is co-head of global markets. She benefited tremendously from her time at Leading Women Executives in the spring of 2016, and she assumed her current role at Morningstar in January of 2017, so welcome, Tricia.
Cynthia Yazdi is next. Cynthia's a senior vice president and member of the executive team at Motorola Solutions. Cynthia leads the team that represents the voice of Motorola Solutions to employees, current and future, customers, media, investors and analysts. Cynthia was a part of the Fall 2016 Leading Women Executives cohort. So to kick us off, we're going to go in order, and we're going to talk about your leadership journey. You know, as you all remember, during the opening part of our Leading Women Executives program, we got this opportunity to talk about our leadership journey. And I remember how that stuck with me and made me think about what really got me here. So, we're going to ask our panelists just to talk a little bit about their leadership journey since leaving Leading Women Executives. Any key takeaways or thoughts they have about things that they've done. Kim?
Kim Evans: Sure. I am forever grateful for Leading Women Executives and the experience I had in 2012 because at that particular time, I was going through a divorce. So, I was literally questioning myself, questioning everything I had kind of done personally and professionally because I couldn't figure out why this marriage didn't work. And Leading Women Executives was such a gift at that time. I think Chris mentioned that there's such a gift of network and support, so absolutely it was that for me. But there's definitely, my leadership pre- Leading Women Executives and then my leadership post- Leading Women Executives. Pre- Leading Women Executives, I would say what characterized my leadership, my leadership journey was really, I would say three words; readiness, resilience, and the third one, I should just remember it, reliability.
So by then, most of the jobs I had had up until the time I was in Leading Women Executives had just been kind of wrapped in pure grit and determination to get them done. I did not come from a background of people with financial acumen. I used to say, I grew up in modest means. I mean, no, we were poor. Where somebody came in to rob you, you hope they drop something off. And my education background was also, you know, I studied psychology and chemistry, so it had nothing to do with finance and economics and all the things I would be doing. So really, that readiness part was just willing to learn and ready for the next gig whenever it came, and I would take whatever came at me. The resilient part was just fighting through some tough times and whatever the job was, no matter how dirty it was, how hard it was, I would just figure out a way to get it done. Just wanting to be reliable and dependable so that people would always depend on me.
I would say post-Leading Women Executives, that has transformed into confidence, transformation and I would say probably most of all, courage. Since Leading Women Executives, I've had the opportunity to do four different jobs and three of them significant promotions. From leading a global team around the world and having staff in five different countries, and not ever having visited, except one, the US, to leading a very mature business and trying to figure out how to crank that business and make that business grow, to now, actually being able to lead a business that is fast-growth business -- projected to be a fast-growth business -- for Northern Trust. I would say my leadership now -- it used to be wrapped in sheer grit and determination -- and now my leadership is really wrapped in strategy and execution, and I really can look to Leading Women Executives for that.
Aletha Noonan: Yeah. That was beautiful, and I think when you said Leading Women Executives is a gift -- I'm sure Cheryl and Sheila thought about this -- but it was also therapy for us to be together, and I think that many of us would look forward to the therapeutic, safe place to talk about our business and professional aspirations. I know you likely feel similar, so take it away, Tricia.
Tricia Rothschild: I do! Thank you. And thank you so much for inviting me to join this panel today. I'm really honored by the invitation. Like Kim, I was in Leading Women Executives at a pivotal point inflection point, but perhaps not all of which I fully realized at the time that I was here. The part I did realize is that personally, I was at a point in my career where I was really willing to lean in even further than I had previously. So that personal intersection is something I always kind of felt -- you're not really supposed to talk about your personal life as it relates to work -- but I learned through Leading Women Executives about the interweaving of those stories. So, I'm happy to say that I had taken a different career path at Morningstar. I was always committed to my work, but I raised three kids, I have a great marriage, I did a lot of things over the years. I was very driven by my family choices first.
At the time that I was in Leading Women Executives, I had been talking pretty actively at work and also with my husband about really the time was right for me to lean in more. I had two college-age boys now, and one young woman at home who is more mature than everybody else in my family. So, I really took the lessons I learned through Leading Women Executives as a way of looking forward and working within my network at Morningstar and also drawing so much strength and experience and courage from the women here. I had not previously had a network of women. I had one female role model in my career, and other than that, I didn't really see women anywhere that had really robust, confident contributions. So that to me had really made a lasting impact. So, thank you to both Sheila and Cheryl for starting this organization to give that back to all of us.
Aletha Noonan: Thank you. And you know, it is profound that you two are in the finance arena, where we didn’t use to see women, and you, as a senior executive in technology. So, Cynthia.
Cynthia Yazdi: So, I'm going to steal a little bit of what you talked about pre and post. I would say the common theme is the confidence part. Pre- Leading Women Executives, I came into the program, originally, I came to join Motorola, I've been there 18 years, and when I first joined, I set myself a goal and I said I want to be a Vice President in Motorola in five years. And it took me 15 years to get there. And when I think about that time, I think about the reasons it took me so long to get there, was because I didn't have the confidence in myself. And some of the decisions that I made prevented me from getting there fast enough. Following Leading Women Executives, I would say that my career has rapidly evolved and I have the confidence to lead teams and to say yes to opportunities that I would, in the past, have shied away from. And so, immediately following Leading Women Executives, I was given additional responsibility to run marketing and communications, and then I was promoted and asked to join the executive committee at Motorola, which was huge. I mean, I'm the only woman sitting on that executive team. It has continued to expand, I'm now a senior vice president and I've added Motorola Solutions Foundation to my responsibility.
So, confidence, for sure. It has allowed me to say yes to so many things that I would've said no to. And I'm very appreciative because I think I wouldn't be sitting up here today if I hadn't attended Leading Women Executives to be honest.
Aletha Noonan: Thank you. I think many of us, I feel about the next moves, or the moves we made, Leading Women Executives was pivotal. I wanted to just talk a little bit about my journey and there are two things that I've thought about quite a bit, and I don't know that I would have articulated had I not attended Leading Women Executives. One was just that concept of “climb and carry.” And while I did that, while I helped other women and other people, I typically picked my people. But now, I've made it a really deliberate decision, and try a little harder with under-represented people, whether that's women or people of color, and even give myself a second chance that somebody maybe wasn't as ready as they could be, because I don't know where their body of work came from. I'm acutely aware that if a woman or person of color is not performing maybe at the level, or not who I think they should be, I try a little harder and I encourage my leadership team to do the same. I say, "Well, let's take a step back because maybe their experience just getting here was different."
The other one I thought was a big one. It was called “invisible work.” I've been invited over my career to do lots of things that are not meaningful work because I could do them, and I've said yes. And I make less of a point, and now I try really hard to only do that if it's important to the business and I really kind of just carry up to the CEO level and, there are things I will do because maybe they serve other missions to the company. But I'm also aware that I'm asked to do things that quite frankly, they don't always ask my white male peers to do because they're like, "She'll do this side job." I love that concept. So in my journey, I went from running the smallest segment in CDW to the largest segment in CDW and I would attribute some of my internal recognition and some of my style really to Leading Women Executives.
So I'm going to go to Tricia and Kim, and talk a little bit about, you both in the last couple of years, have had some very pivotal, high, visible growth requirement roles, and we wanted to hear about what happened and how did you handle them, and particularly those things, where everybody's watching, which sometimes feels like my day job. But what aspects were most challenging and what lessons did you learn, what can you tell us that would help the rest of us, when you're in those high visible expectations with numbers associated with them? We'll start with you, Tricia.
Tricia Rothschild: Sure. Yeah, this is kind of the punch line. The part of the story that I wasn't aware of when I was doing Leading Women Executives is that we were -- Morningstar was undergoing its first ever CEO transition from being founder-led Chicago company for company for over 30 years, to having our first CEO that was not a founder. That happened to be my boss, who was promoted into that role, and he then needed to back fill his role. And I applied and earned that job. So, I was moving basically from the previous role I had, which was a strategy-based role, which was a lot of influence, really very little accountability, which I didn't like. I liked learning, I learned a lot through that role. I learned a lot about leading to influence, but I would complain that I wanted more accountability and I thought I could -- I would say things like, "I could do twice as much in half the time if I was actually managing the resources” that I was talking to, to influence all the time.
So I took on a significantly larger role with a very vast span of control across Morningstar's business units, and it was obviously a high -- it is still, I would say -- a high profile time for our organization because it is the first time that our CEO is not the major shareholder and really the sole decision maker with of course, the support of our board, which Cheryl is on. So it is now, not just like from the financial implication, but also our growth goals, our strategic goals, the industry is changing dramatically and I'm overseeing a really wide part of the business. A couple of lessons that I took from that transitional experience is it wasn't just about the fact that I got an expanded role, it was the context in which that was happening, and actually I think in hindsight, which took me about a year to figure out, I underestimated the amount of change that was happening within the organization.
So I was thinking like, "Okay, I get it.” I applied to this job and as I said, it was great for my personal journey. The right time for me. But I also had, we had a new CEO, we were setting up business units, seven P&Ls which we had years ago but had not actually had for the most recent past, so everybody was learning how to navigate in a different kind of financial lens, different reporting sequence and cadence, different expectations. I will never forget at the end of January -- so this transition happened on January 1st -- at the 25th of January, our new CEO whose name is Kunal, looked at me and he said, "How are we going to close the month?" And I looked at him and I said, "You know I don't know the answer to that question. Because last month at this time, you didn't know the answer to that question either." But it was a strong signal that we needed to know that, and that was part of the transition.
Long story short, it's been over two years and I think our results have been really fabulous. I'm very proud of that. I'm really proud of our leadership team. I had to make a lot of changes on the leadership team that I inherited, that was another lesson learned. But I think the context of the change, like back to the vertical thing, it wasn't just about my role is changing, it was “what else is going on in the organization?” that I think had the most ... longest lasting impact.
Aletha Noonan: As you made the comment about how we're going to close the month, when I took over my new role two and a half years ago, I went to a meeting with our CEO and he asked a question and you might even know the answer to, but it was a signal. And it was really, you need to know the answer. He said, "What was that like two and a half years ago?" And I thought, “I don't know. I had all the notes about what when I thought you were going to ask.” So, Kim, talk to us about your recency in this, and give us some advice on transition and advice on how do you take on these challenging roles.
Kim Evans: I think what Tricia talked about in terms of context is really, really important. So remember, I laid the groundwork by saying that I used to be the one that they were depending on, I used to be the one that had to produce results. And so then moving into some of the roles that I've had -- highly visible, growth-focused -- required me to be thinking about strategic alliances, both inside and outside of the organization, that I needed to build in order to be successful. Additionally, I went from doing the job that nobody wanted to do just to prove myself, to now being offered roles that were really pretty highly coveted and other people wanted to do them. So I would say if there's 20 people that applied for the job, 10 people could actually do it, and then 10 people were waiting for you to screw up so that they can get their shot. So, the pressure wasn't just about the growth, but it was also -- and I don't mean Northern Trust has a, we have a wonderful, collegiate culture -- but that's just the truth about how thin the air is when you get in for some of these large P&L roles that are few and far between.
I would say just in terms of transition, I knew very well that this was no longer about me. You know, everybody generally wants to win, but who wants to win with me and who wants me to win became really, really important. So finding those strategic alliances and making sure that we could always keep the company's goals in front of us and know what we were targeting. So, the role right before this one I was in for two and a half years and I was so proud of myself. We'll talk about negotiation, but I was so proud of myself for negotiating and getting into that role, and getting kind of what I wanted, to be set up for success in the role, and then I got in the role and I started hearing people say things like, "Yeah, well, just kind of take your time. This business doesn't really grow that fast. You know? In fact, you're going to lose this.” It was just like, "Are you kidding me? No, that can't be true." So I got really busy assessing my team, assessing the market, assessing the portfolio of clients that we had, trying to figure out exactly what it was going to take to not just defy the odds of what people were projecting to me, but I was put in the role to grow the business and I needed to figure out how to do that. So, I started in that business, it was $580 billion in assets under custody, I left it with over $800 billion in assets under custody. Two and a half years, it was producing over $128 million in revenue, I left it in two and a half years with over $162 million in revenue. And this was all at the same time while net interest income for this particular business was on decline. So I would dare anybody say to me like, "Oh, you're in a low growth period and a down cycle for that business. You're not going to be able to grow it. Just kind of sit and hang out and see what you can learn," which is what was being projected to me. And I thought, that's not the name that I want -- I didn't want that for me, but I did want it for the team of people that were there, working hard and working to build it.
The main lesson is just figure out who strategically you need to be working with, who's going to tell you the truth and then get busy kind of doing what you know you can do. Like I said, I learned how to be more confident, and have some courage to push through things that weren't natural and try to make that work.
Aletha Noonan: A follow up question. Any thoughts on why you were given that work? With the, "You sit back and let this – this isn’t going to work, so just go ahead and sit back.”
Kim Evans: We have to -- I think that's great, Aletha, to ask the question -- because you have to make sure that you're aware of who's giving you information because they're kind of waiting to jump in and maybe do something different, and who's giving you the information to help you understand the landscape of the role that you're in. So there were some people who said, "Hey, I remember my very first big deal." Either my manager at the time was like, "We probably won't win this one, but I've seen how you’ve strategically have gone after it. Don't want you to get your hopes up so that you're disappointed very early in the job." But then there were some who were just like, if I'm just being honest, I was counting on you to lose.”
Aletha Noonan: I think the message is in there, obviously, you probably captured them too, but the alliances are a big deal. And I really like how you said the context of the change. So you're getting this new job, but what are the other things going on around you and around the business that you need to be aware of.
Kim Evans: Absolutely.
Aletha Noonan: Certainly, those people trying to talk you into not being great. Cynthia, in your opening you talked about kind of a myriad of roles, I think, with over 15 years of roles that you've had, and recently, you've had your scope change quite a bit since Leading Women Executives. Can you talk about some lessons you learned and maybe specifically, tell us a little bit about some of the skills that you replicated? Some of the things that you learned and that you maybe use more than once.
Cynthia Yazdi: Yeah, for sure. So back to my story about 15 years -- I had Leading Women Executives at the back of my head at the time when I sat down with my boss, who approached me to take on responsibility for marketing and communications. I'm an engineer, what do I know about marketing and communications? My initial instinct would've been, "Oh god, no. What do I know about it? I'm not going to do this." So, I answered him, and I said, "Yes. I need to do this." He looked at me and said, "What do you mean you need to do this? That's a funny answer." I realized that I was projecting in saying, “I need to go do this, if I need to go and get to the spot that I want to get to.” And I think it has a lot to do with Leading Women Executives and all that I had learned in the back of my mind.
So he was a little taken aback and I think with that one decision to say, "I'm going to go do this,” and if they know that I can bring and add value to this discipline, then I should have the confidence in myself to say, "I'm going to go do something really great about it." And as I continue to move forward and grab this team and lead this team, I think through the negotiation process at the time, we had marketing a little bit separate, then we had a global marketing team which was just a product team, and then we had the regional marketing team that were in region. So, they reported into sales. So, one of the promotions that I did receive was bringing in all the marketing teams together and it had a lot to do with the messaging and the communication of why it was important for us to bring these teams back together.
The other part of it is, I don't know about you guys, but the Hogan for me was like wow... I went in there initially thinking, "What is this thing about Hogan? They're preparing us for it, the Kleenex are coming out," and I thought “what is going on?” But boy, did it ever hit me. It hit me about all the number of derailers that I had, and I had, oh my god. I'm never going to get there. I have so many derailers. And I remember speaking to the counselor and I'm thinking to myself, I mean, she even did a special session for me, because I was so upset by it. She said to me, "Tell me a little bit about your leadership journey." And I kind of went through it and she said, "You know, I wouldn't be so concerned about the derailers because they haven't affected your path. In fact, I think you're working really, really hard to get through them and to overcome them."
So as I have -- I think it helped me a lot because I understand now some of the derailers that I had, and I've worked really hard to not let them stop me. I just recently did a 360 and part of the assessment was a Hogan and funnily enough, those derailers didn't appear anymore. So I thought that was really cool.
Tricia Rothschild: Can I say one quick thing? Because I think it's very funny. My background is in communications actually, and I have eyes on the research and I've done a lot of client say things so when I took on my new role, shortly after, our CEO came to me and he said, “I actually need to make a couple changes on the leadership team and I would like the CTO to report to you”. And I was like, "Okay." Of all the things that I know about this company, that is not the area that I have the most experience. But I did it, and that's a whole separate, and very interesting story. But I've learned so much and I think actually, having a different perspective has brought a lot of really important discipline to that function.
Aletha Noonan: We have about five to seven minutes left. There are two things -- there's a couple of juicy things we want to get to, so I just kind of want to tease them out there. I don't know with you, but I'm a sales lady. My favorite module's always negotiation and I always want to win. So, there's a lot that you -- and you mentioned a little bit, Cynthia, but maybe Kim and Tricia can talk about some of -- just, you know, kind of in a shorter fashion, some of your highlights of things that you learned about in negotiations and the time that maybe you've applied them in the workplace recently.
Kim Evans: Yeah. So, negotiation, this was definitely, I mean, I have so many favorites in Leading Women Executives, but this was really my favorite and it really is a gift that keeps on giving. Like after I go do a wonderful negotiation and both sides win --because I'm about win-win negotiations -- both sides win, and then I go back and like, "Oh, I could have asked for that one more thing.” So that's one more thing. But I alluded to, in my previous role, my first big deal is on the table and everybody's telling me that you might not get it. It might not get done. So I was so hungry to learn why not, that that actually provided all the answers of what I needed to pull together to actually win it. So, one of the components was they had been with their previous service provider for multiple years, but they were with us prior to that, and somebody said to me, Rick Waddell -- who was our CEO and Chairman at the time -- they said he was really upset when we lost that business; he’d love to win that business back. I was like, I'm taking him into the final sales presentation.
The other thing is that they were a state-run business and their service-provider was out of town, so we've got to hit hometown bank service provider, and we've got to hit that pretty hard for the Board. The other thing is that I found out we had actually already lost. So we went into the room, and I said, "Look guys, they're telling me,” -- and I could see the other sales guy there and I'm like, "Yeah, his posture right now, it is you guys lost and this is formality” -- so I said, “Let's go in, and just do what we would normally do to dazzle them. We ended up winning that business because it was strategically placing the right people at the table to say the right thing. Our time was compressed so it was like, "Look, going in, this is what we have to say and we only get 10 minutes to say it. And we already lost so you might as well just be great anyway." And we won the business and it was really a shock to everybody. So negotiating, just knowing what the people around the table wanted, and making sure that we can give that to them in that negotiation and then we won the business.
That was really good lesson. Like, "Yeah." You could actually have lost the business, but you can still win.
Aletha Noonan: Well, and the thing I think you hit on, was that you did a ton of research so you knew exactly what everybody wanted and you knew exactly what you were willing to get. But going into it with your research, it's like a good party. You don't mess up if you plan ahead of time. Want to add anything about negotiations?
Tricia Rothschild: Yeah. I would say, for me, prior to Leading Women Executives, I had built up a $60, $70-million dollar research business from the ground up. So I was pretty comfortable with the external client-related negotiations, that understanding how to build and grow business, but I was probably less astute at internal negotiations. I have a really short failure story, which was from before I was in Leading Women Executives and I have a success story from after Leading Women Executives. Both kind of an internal context of buy in. So when I had the strategy role -- this is the failure story -- I had this great vision for one of our larger client segments. My boss, who's now CEO, supported it, we were totally aligned. And my prior boss, who's on the executive committee, she loved it. We were totally aligned. So, I'm thinking, okay, great, I've got two of the most senior people on the company on my side, I had a beautiful vision, literally like a picture, a design, everybody knew what it was, it was called Total Advisor Workflow. It was very clear. And I would go around to every other leader and show them the picture and walk through what we were doing and they would all nod. Nobody had any problems or anything with it.
I was super excited. And then six months went by, and I was like, "Oh my god, nobody's doing anything related to the Total Advisor Workflow”. I thought we agreed. I had never asked them to commit. They had never said what they were going to do. So nobody was opposed, but nobody was actually acting. And that, that is part of getting true buy-in. I had stopped -- maybe I did 80 percent of the work, maybe. But I stopped in that last 20 percent, that cost us a little bit of time. What I learned after and about getting buy-in and true commitment in it, and having the clear ask, was with our technology strategy, which as I've already said, I'm not a technologist, and Cheryl will really appreciate this because we had let some of our technical debt mount over the past few years, and last year and a little bit the year before that, we made a really strong commitment to reduce the technical debt.
That takes a lot of work, and as a product leader, we had to allocate time from our new feature development pipeline to actually go back and have, you know, you guys who are technologists or have technology background, just doing DR testing on a regular basis for every product and reporting on it, and being confident that if we didn't pass the test, we have plans to remediate, we were going to go back and do it again in six months, and that was a discipline that had kind of escaped us for a little while, and as Cheryl knows, we have been proudly reporting to the Board every quarter about our progress, and that took not just nodding of heads but actual commitment and action.
Kim Evans: Can I just add one other thing to this too, it's just, you're always negotiating. I mean, really, you've come to the end of the negotiation if somebody asks the question, "So, what do you think?" Right? But before it's the what do you think or the final stage of -- you're always negotiating, and I think I learned that through Leading Women Executives. You can be planning seeds, and I was planting seeds for this job that I had now, when I first got the last job. If there's ever an opportunity to run a business, kind of like a start-up entrepreneurial gig inside of a large corporation from front to back sales through to delivery, I'd love to be able to do that. And then, just who you plant those seeds with. You're always negotiating. You're always planting seeds and you're always learning what the other side was. And so, that now was just an incredible philosophy to learn to just around how you get to an agreement.
Aletha Noonan: So for sake of time, we're going to move to questions. But one highlight about the organization I thought was really critical, and really important to the CDW business, is the adoption and the commitment. Everything we do, really isn't about giving the yes, our technical partners, they aren't even paying us for selling things anymore. They're paying us for adopting. So adoption and commitment is really just the theme in professional corporate America more than ever.
How are we doing on questions? No questions on the phone. Should we start with the room? What questions do you have? I have a whole bunch more that we didn't get to, so. Happy to go to the room, any questions specifically for our panel?
Audience Member: I think you mentioned that there were earlier decisions, pre- Leading Women Executives that you didn't take maybe opportunities because you didn't yet have the confidence. Do you have maybe any examples you can share with us? So, if we see those opportunities, we can question ourselves if we have the confidence and take them?
Cynthia Yazdi: Yeah. I think you're all in a stage of your career where you probably won't have – it was very early in my career. So, I would say, I was offered opportunities to lead people, and specifically, they were my peers. So, I steered very clear of those opportunities and I should've just run towards them. So, not leading people, not having the responsibility for a P&L very early on, which I should've taken on. I think those were the two major ones. And I always had this theory that I don't want to, you know, really provide direction to my career. It's going to happen. They're going to notice me and it's going to happen. And I think I needed to be a little more deliberate in telling people what I wanted. I should've told them. I want to be a VP in five years. And then they would've questioned me on, "This behavior that you have is not getting you to that career or that place.”
I think being more vocal about what you want. I think that would help me as well.
Aletha Noonan: We have a question up here. Christine, your line is now open to ask your question.
Christine Seal (caller): The question I have is, we talked about the different changes. When you're given a new role and there has to be significant team member changes to achieve the success that you're going to have to in that particular department or business unit, how do you remain patient? Because organizational redesign takes a little while.
Tricia Rothschild: Is the question how do you remain patient? Is that what she said?
Aletha Noonan: How do you remain patient during -- she was saying as she took on a new role, the dynamics and the people in the team may need to change, but you can't just typically go in and change the team over.
Tricia Rothschild: It's interesting because I ... I think in my experience, I probably was a little too patient. It was pretty clear to me 60 days in that certain things weren't working, and I would complain about them to my boss who used to manage the same people. And he would nod, because he knew that, and then by April, at one point I remember very distinctly, he said, "It's your team now." I was like, "Oh, I get it. I think I'm supposed to make some changes." So, I sequenced it. I guess my answer to your question would be I picked my spots and very, very deliberately, took what I thought was the biggest problem first, actually there were two problems that were kind of side by side in terms of big problems, and then there was a third problem that was -- it wasn't less significant to the business, it was still a big problem, but it was less impactful to our overall results. So, I sequenced it so that I could manage the timing a little bit, both for my own sanity and also for the stability of the rest of the organization.
It is true, there's an element of patience, but I would actually say, just “go.”
Kim Evans: Yeah. And to your point, Tricia, patience because you want to have some compassion for the people who've been there and who've been doing the job. That's one thing. But you have a job to do and everybody understand that you have a job to do. So, the way that I've kind of done it as a practice for myself is think strategically about -- there are three things that you have to do when you're asked to run a business. You’ve got to figure out who the right team is, you’ve got to figure out how you're going to go to market and you're going to have to figure out how that's going to work inside your company. And so I always start with the team. Do I have what I need on this team to make the ultimate goals or outcomes become a reality? And if I don't, because I've addressed it strategically, if I don't have that, then we work on it, and I bring in my HR partners, I bring in some of the other team members. We start figuring out “how do we get that talent?” And if I have to excuse people from the team or help them find other things because maybe their talent is not suited for the roles that we need to grow the business,
I actually do try to figure out how to help them. I don't take over the responsibility and have that become my full responsibility, but I have, on occasion, found some really, really good people -- just misfits in jobs -- and you have to move them out of the way. If they are in key roles that help your business grow and are going to potentially prevent it from growing, you have to take action. But it really is about taking action. So, the longer you kick it down the road, the longer you wait to act, it doesn't get any better.
Aletha Noonan: And I want to add, at CDW, we philosophically try to pivot on a coworker, but a really good way to pivot on the coworker is to help him or her find the right job and a really good way that helps me find the right job is to have really strong internal network. And to be listening. So, we do a talent review with all of the vice presidents in every segment. And then we do some cross-functional senior leader talent reviews. Those who are the most vocal get everything done because they're listening and they're giving. You have to be willing to give your people and kind of do this thing, but I tend to operate pretty quickly, but I'm great at finding people jobs because I'm kind of paying attention to their talents and where our company has needs.
Cynthia Yazdi: On the patience piece, our CEO says to us so often that one of the biggest mistakes that he's made is he doesn't make decisions on people and move on people fast enough. And when I take over an organization, I probably spend a little too much time because I try and really speak to everybody on the team at all levels. And it's amazing how a common thread will appear and will be very, very clear for you on what are areas you need to focus on. And I also learned that it has to be somewhere in between. Our CEO came and spoke at CEO Perspectives and I remember him very clearly saying, if you are going to take a person that you think isn't doing the job and you're going to say, "I'm going to take on this project. I'm going to help them, I'm going to meet with them every week. I'm going to roll up my sleeves.” He says, "You're doing a disservice to you, to that person and to the team that's below them.” So that woke me up and I had to make a quick decision on someone because it just resonated with me.
Aletha Noonan: Thank you. Quick question about- you spoke, Kimberly, a lot about strategic alliances and being able to discern who wanted you to win and who wanted your team to win. Then you guys pivoted in your conversation up here to networking, and we did a really terrific module on networking. I'd be interested in hearing all of you sort of talk about how it is that you're able to network internally and then identify who can help you in your strategic alliances in order to really get things done and help move your career in the organization.
Kim Evans: So I would start with the advocates that you have as you go through the program. My advocate was really, really helpful for me navigating not just to get the previous job, but this job as well, just kind of talking me through. Here's the change that's going on in the organization, here's probably what's likely to become available, and so here's how you might think about queuing that up. But Aletha was talking about the alliances from the perspective of if you are well-known and well-regarded in the organization, there's probably going to be more people that want you to win and more people aligned with the corporate goals to help you win than not. But I think you go about building that in ways that's organic and fruitful for everybody. I just truly believe that everybody has to win in this transaction. Everybody has to win in this network. And it's only a helpful network if there's a proper amount of give and take.
It doesn't mean I'm always giving, but there has to be a proper amount of an exchange so that you can go and call someone, when you've got someone on your team -- I'm never passing off that people -- right? I'm never passing off someone to someone else that really shouldn't be in the organization. But I am looking at skills and saying, "Hey, this person actually will be well suited for this job. What do you think? Would you mind talking to them?" And then that serves both of us really, really well. I think the way that I have gone about networking, you meet people organically, you find people that you can help win. One of the things I've talked about before from a Leading Women Executives perspective, it has taught me how to advocate for other people and how to really stand up and help other people win. That's where a lot of my courage comes from, just in that case.
I think you can build a network that is geared up and prepared to help you because they are also interested in moving the organization forward. But I tend to do it organically, one at a time.
Aletha Noonan: I would say it's one of my top three skills, and it's one of the things that if it’s just generic networking, I'm terrible. But I really do believe you build credibility-based networks particularly in the workplace. Your business objectives are in line, so one of the best ways to begin -- and Adam Grant wrote a great book -- I think you said “Give and Take”, I think that's the name of it. But really, when you have deposits in the business, or you're helping people move the business forward, which is the right thing to do as a coworker and as a senior leader, you can do things to help them. So I, unprovoked, will call someone and like, "I think you should send your person to this." "Have you heard about this?" "I got a guy I want you to talk to." "I understand this is going wrong in your business, I have two people who can get…" that is how you network.
One of the poor pieces of advice, I think, some of our coworkers get is, "Go get to know the VP." Then they take an hour of your time. "Yeah, how are you?" I'm like, "I don’t have time for that." But I do have time for coworker who comes in and says, "Aletha, I wanted to get to know you because I know you have influence. And I also wanted to get your perspective on what I'm doing and how that impacts our greater business." I think that as you network and you build networks based on business credibility, and I think whenever you have the chance, you help support your peers and other leaders in achieving their business objectives. You're giving. I've got deposits and I do it for the business, and I do it externally too. I connect people- I have one guy that's like, "Why do you keep connecting me to people?" I'm like, "I think they can help you with your business.”
I think that you can build credibility-based networks that aren't awkward. Just networking for networks sake to me is awkward.
Tricia Rothschild: There's one phrase that I remembered along these lines, which is "shine by reflected light" and when we learned that at Leading Women Executives, I thought, “Oh, that sounds so soft. I thought the whole gig here was to be stronger and tougher and clearer. And then I was, no, that's super valuable. And that kind of speaks to what you guys are saying, part of the deposits make other people stronger and that it's helpful.
Aletha Noonan: Put that on a t-shirt too.
Christine Seal (caller): The next question I have is more about how we've gone through both the personal and the professional journeys. And I think sometimes you have to make a decision -- a lot of times you're progressing along both of them pretty well, but if there's something that has an event like we've talked about, that's significant in your life and you have to take a step back, do you think -- what is the best way, if you have to have open communication about your personal journey and you don't want to compromise your professional?
Kim Evans: Can I just share with you guys quickly, I didn't mention this, but right after Leading Women Executives and my first promotion, or actually probably the second one after Leading Women Executives, I was in a car accident that really, at one point threatened my life and then once we figured out I was going to live, it threatened just my health and livelihood because I was having post-concussion headaches. The kind of headaches that you get that football players get. So pretty horrible. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is such the wrong time." Think about what I'm saying here. "This is such the wrong time to have been in a car accident. My career is really on this fabulous trajectory." Like how silly is that, right? But I struggled with the idea that I'm going to have to be off work because I tried, actually, to go back to work for a short period of time and realized that I wasn't healing well and I really needed to be off work and my doctor said, "You have to got to come out."
The fears that went through me was, look, I can't take care of my family the way that I used to, I can't take care of my community that I used to, I can't take care of my colleagues and my work the way that I used to. What am I without all of that? And it was truly, I cannot tell you how many times I reflected on the leadership story exercise to pull myself out of that. And I leaned heavily on my mom who was kind of a ‘one day at a time’ type person. I guess my message there is -- then my career just really took off after I took the time off and came back.
I mean, I needed to physically heal but there was a lot of personal, emotional healing that happened at the same time. But I would say from a personal perspective, if you know you have to do something and it's going to make you better for it, don't question, don't hesitate doing it. Figure out how you can get other people to help you in that, because I wasn't really originally kind of reaching out for help, and I learned when I couldn't do things for myself that I had to have help. And I'm just telling you, it has helped me professionally to apply those very, very personal life lessons to what I'm doing in my career. And I would not be sitting here today, I really don't think, had it not been for what I learned in Leading Women Executives, the support from the women and the network who were reaching out to me the whole time I was healing and all of those lessons that gave me good footing when I got back to work.
Aletha Noonan: Tricia, I know you mentioned this particular subject in your opening, about your professional and your personal. Can you just give us one more closing remark on anything. You talked about how it's so important to you.
Tricia Rothschild: Yeah. I guess I firmly believe that life is not a race. It's the journey. My journey and your journey might be different and that's fine. So you have to do what kind of is right for you at the time.
Daniella Levitt: Well, before we go any further, please let’s give a big hand to our panelists and our moderator. I have a few closing remarks, but let's all just turn around and wave to everybody that is joining us via livestream. I'm going to scrunch in here a so that you can see me. Is that better? Okay, great. There we go.
So first of all, thank you to CDW for hosting us today. Very appreciative. This was the first for us in terms of doing a livestream, and when we thought about who we should go and ask to be our partner on this, we hedged our bets by going to technology company, so very appreciative for that. Also wanted to say thank you to some specific people, of course to Chris Leahy, even though she's no longer in the room with us. Liz Connelly, to Hilary Malina, to Kelly Twomey Eidson, to Ed Moy, who's sitting in another room and making sure that the livestream is all going fine as well, and then to other IT members at CDW. And also to the ambassadors from CDW who helped us with reaching out to other ambassadors from all their cohorts so that we could have great participation both in the room as well as via the livestream. Thank you also to Aletha, and to Kim and to Tricia and to Cynthia for being on our panel today. We really appreciate that. Then, of course, to all of you for attending both in the room as well as those of you that are with us on livestream.
The other thing I wanted to mention, speaking of digital footprint, lots of firsts for us this year. We launched a private LinkedIn group back in February of this year. Many of you are already members. We're up to 265 members. If you're not yet a member and you can't recall getting the instructions on how to join, no problem. Just reach out to myself or try other team members, Naomi Yamada, we're actually going to also introduce or re-introduce to many of you here in a moment, and we can get those instructions to you. I'm also going to ask all of you, please, start posting on the LinkedIn group. I already have two stories I heard this morning. We don't want that it's just myself and Wendy and Naomi that are doing posts up there. You've all got great assets, resources to share with one another, questions you want to post, people you want to tap into. It's being treated the same way as we did in the room, “what is said in the group, stays in the group.” The only people that are members of that LinkedIn community, are you as ambassadors, the past participants. So please start taking advantage of that.
Naomi, could I ask you to just stand up and face the camera as well so people can see you? Or even step forward if you need to. I would like to introduce Naomi Yamada. She's our new program manager. She's absolutely stellar. So you will get to know her and engage with her. And I'd also like to introduce- I don't know that Tawanda Perkins is in the room, but Tawanda is the executive assistant for Corporate Leadership Center and she's also been getting involved with aspects of the program. That's another thanks and a name that many of you will get to know.
Our next event, very big news, November 13th, downtown Chicago. This is a big year for us. 10-year anniversary for Leading Women Executives. By the time we're done with the spring program, we're going to have close to 600 women that have been through the program, so we’ll surpass that mark by the time we get to November. Also, 15-year anniversary for CEO Perspectives. So, another first ever, we are doing a big event in November -- November 13th -- put it on your calendars. You'll get the Save the Date shortly. The whole afternoon will be a Leading Women Executives symposium. You all keep asking us, "When do we get to come back for continued learning?" This is it. November 13th. We’ll have an afternoon of networking, ongoing learning, and then in the evening, a joint event bringing both the CEO Perspectives and the Leading Women Executives communities together, with phenomenal networking and a panel discussion. More to come on that.
With that, once again, thank you to CDW for your hospitality, and to everyone for joining us today. Thank you.