“Know your value, but don’t forget your roots.” — We all start somewhere. As women in tech, we are inspiring the generations after us who will achieve things beyond our wildest dreams. The thing is, they can’t do it alone. Good leaders and mentors are always ready to roll up their sleeves and get in the weeds with their teams. The example you set in those moments will continue to foster growth in their skills, and provide comfort knowing that they’re not alone in figuring out complex issues.
As a part of my series about “Lessons from Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy Jaudon, Regional President, Americas for IFS. As regional president for the Americas, and a member of the IFS Senior Leadership Team, Cindy Jaudon is responsible for growing the IFS footprint in the world’s largest and most demanding markets.
During her tenure, Cindy has been instrumental in four key IFS acquisitions: WorkWave, a leading provider for the Field Service and Last Mile Delivery in the SMB market; Mxi, a leading provider of maintenance management software for the global aviation industry; Metrix LLC, a best of breed service management supplier and LatinIFS, an IFS reseller in South America. She has also led the IFS Americas team to steady organic growth and achieved unprecedented satisfaction and retention levels in the North American customer base.
Prior to assuming the role of president and CEO, Cindy was the global industry director for IFS’s Industrial Manufacturing and Aerospace and Defense solutions, where she helped IFS assume a dominant position in both sectors. Cindy has more than 25 years of consulting, sales and management experience in the enterprise software market, including a senior executive role with Effective Management Systems, which was purchased by IFS in 1999. She also held positions at several mid-size and Fortune 500 companies, including Mitutoyo, C.N.A. Insurance and Deutz-Allis.
In recent years, IFS’s North America business has been recognized as a Top 50 Best Companies to Watch by The Silicon Review with Cindy at the helm. Cindy has also been named a two-category finalist in the Stevie® Awards for Women in Business: Female Executive of the Year — Business Products — Less Than 2,500 Employees and Woman of the Year — Technology. The Stevie Awards for Women in Business recognize the world’s top female entrepreneurs, executives, employees, and the organizations they run.
Cindy completed her MBA from Benedictine University in 2003 and holds a B.A. in management information systems from North Central College in Naperville, Ill.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Iwas fresh out of school when my father read an article in the local paper about a new business software company, and he thought I should check it out. So, I took my resume and walked into what I thought was the front door. I soon found out it was the side entrance, walking right into the sales “bull pen”. After sharing I was there to apply for a job, one of them walked me into the president’s office. A week later, I had a job in IT. If I had walked in the front door, I never would have made it past the receptionist. Ironically, the wrong door led me to the right career path.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
Ihave the wonderful opportunity of seeing a lot of different companies. Each are interesting and unique in their own way. One that stands out was a visit to one of the largest biomedical research centers in the world. This research center produces 90 percent of the vaccines and serums used in Brazil for preventive and curative use. As I took a tour of the facility, I was able to meet up close and personal with the inhabitants of the venom farm. That’s an experience I’ll never forget!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our commitment to our customers. Sounds cliché as many other companies say the same thing, but when you have some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the industry, that speaks for itself. I think there are two main reasons for this. First, at IFS we recognize that “one size fits all” is not applicable for our enterprise customers who often have very complex operations. We want to ensure the customer receives the value we’ve promised in our software on their terms — whether that’s cloud or on prem, SaaS or perpetual licensing.
Secondly, we have regular user groups where our customers can network and learn from one another on best practices using our industry leading software solutions, whether it’s ERP, asset management, or field service management. They also use this time to share with us ideas that can help influence IFS’s product roadmap for future releases. We invest in each other’s success, which is an amazing benefit we enjoy with our customers.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Wereally invest in our employees’ development and education and are expanding those efforts. In addition to providing tuition reimbursement, we’ve invested in global initiatives like IFS Academy to provide the training and tools necessary to develop our employees in their existing and potential future roles at IFS.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
Over the last 30 years that I’ve been in technology, I think STEM has come a long way, but I do feel there is still room to improve diversity. In speaking with my team and our customers, there’s a huge skills gap of technical people. I feel part of the reason is because for decades society hasn’t done the greatest at promoting technology to kids as a career path, regardless of gender, race, or orientation — losing out on potential talent. If we can support our education system to build programs that encourage curiosity in the classroom about these careers at a young age without the bias and stigma, I think we can help close the gap for future generations.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
Ithink one of the biggest challenges for women — particularly younger women — who are interested in a career in tech is having a readily accessible industry role model or mentor they can learn from to overcome the adversity women may face in this field.
Fortunately, I think this is a challenge that can be overcome in time. The number of female leaders in tech is growing, and they’re becoming more vocal about their experience in the field. Both factors together, I believe, will help inspire future generations of women in tech.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
Women don’t need to “prove themselves” to their peers as having the competence or rightfully deserving a role. At IFS, I feel we’ve done an excellent job in reviewing candidates and internal employees fairly for opportunities. Our average employee tenure is over 12 years, which is three times the standard for our industry. We love to grow from within, and we’ve been so fortunate to have really smart, diverse talent that want to work for IFS, and for a large portion of their career.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- “Never stop learning.” — I’ve been in tech for a while, but I haven’t learned everything. The great thing about this industry is that it’s constantly changing. Technology is evolving at an exponential rate, and we are learning along with our customers new and creative ways to solve today’s business issues and preparing for the next innovation that comes our way.
- “Build your network and utilize it.” — We touched on this earlier, but it’s so important to build strong relationships with your peers, your customers, and partners. Each will have their own impact on your career, directly and indirectly. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the people I’ve gotten to know over the years who continue to challenge and inspire me — and our company.
- “Know your value, but don’t forget your roots.” — We all start somewhere. As women in tech, we are inspiring the generations after us who will achieve things beyond our wildest dreams. The thing is, they can’t do it alone. Good leaders and mentors are always ready to roll up their sleeves and get in the weeds with their teams. The example you set in those moments will continue to foster growth in their skills, and provide comfort knowing that they’re not alone in figuring out complex issues.
- “Get out of your comfort zone.” — It’s very easy to “stay in your lane” but the problem is you limit your exposure to new issues, solutions, or ideas. It also limits your personal growth. As a leader, you will find yourself in unchartered territory, and you can’t rest on your laurels. Continue to challenge yourself by trying different things — personally and professionally. You might be surprised about what you learn about yourself, and potentially expand your boundaries.
- “Surround yourself with people who think differently than you do.” — This somewhat ties to the last point about exposing yourself to new ideas. Just because you have a good answer, doesn’t mean it’s the best one. In collaborating with your peers, you might uncover something you didn’t think about before, or didn’t realize was an issue. When you have diverse thinkers in the same room, looking to solve the same issue, chances are you will come up with a solution you call can agree is the best way to move forward.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
Asmuch as you may want to, it’s just about impossible to understand what’s going on in the day-to-day of any given employee, at any given time. Make sure you hire strong leaders underneath you to keep the business running, so that you can focus on moving the business forward, and sustaining its future for your employees and your customers.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
One of my very early mentors was Dan Long, President of Effective Management Systems. He hired me early in my career and taught me that every employee, no matter what their role was in the organization, should think like they owned the company. This drove accountability and responsibility throughout the entire organization. Not only did he ask that we think like a business owner, but he trusted that we did.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
Thomas Jefferson, former President of the United States
I was brought up by two very hard-working parents. They taught me that life may not always be easy, but with hard work and perseverance, you can overcome many adversities. Everyday, I try to give my all, in everything I do. I believe if you’ve put the hard work in and have done your very best, then good things will come your way.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Tara Westover. I read her book, Educated, over 18 months ago and I still talk about it. I believe education can truly change lives. I would love to hear more about what she is doing today.