Ep 32: Joanne Moretti: Inspiring One Million Tech Women by 2020

Diva Tech Talk was thrilled to interview technology industry leader and visionary, Joanne Moretti, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales Enablement at Jabil Inc., and General Manager of Jabil’s Blue Sky Center. With a 30-plus year career at tech industry giants like CA Technologies, Hewlett Packard and Dell, Joanne had many personal insights and leadership tips to share.

Beginning her tech career at one of Canada’s largest banks (CIBC), (coding in COBOL, maintaining service levels, etc.)  Joanne said “Not until I was older, did I really understand some of the possibilities around technology and some of the things that it could empower people to do.” For Joanne it was about “meeting people, and networking with them to really understand what was going on in the early 80’s that was causing this spur in technology. I began speaking to women at IBM, and some other big companies (DEC) that were around then. It was intriguing to me; they were working with people and with technology.”  

Joanne’s decade-plus at CA Technologies began as “an inspirational, pivotal moment.”  She met a woman from CA who talked about “meeting people, solving problems, understanding what customers were doing, and then mapping solutions to it.  I thought to myself: ‘I want to do that!’ At CA, Joanne became a systems engineer, for 5 years, supporting sales cycles with her technical expertise. Then “I took a quantum leap into sales,” Joanne said. At first “I hesitated.  I thought I was going to lose all my credibility; I was very nervous about that move.”  But her “mentor network” encouraged her to take the challenge.  

After moving into sales, she then quickly evolved into sales management, assuming a territory with a large quota; and then several years later, became the General Manager for CA, Canada where she and her team doubled CA’s Canadian business in 3 years.   After that “Basically my management said ‘do what you did in Canada’, leverage partners to increase your reach; and do the same thing in the Western USA,” which was 13 states. It was “a great evolution from being a technologist, with my sleeves rolled up, to a sales role, then a leading role in the business.  Just a great, great experience,” Joanne exclaimed.  “It was all team.  It was getting the right people on the team.  Making some hard decisions, which aren’t pleasant, but facing some realities that needed to be faced; leveraging partnerships; training the team; and understanding the customers’ needs.”

Joanne was then recruited by Hewlett Packard and applied solutions selling “know-how” to her role as the leader for the HP Sales University, where she and her team developed an award-winning curriculum which encouraged “a much higher level of conversation” between HP sales representatives and their customers. “We created it from scratch at the site of the former HP/EDS famous university in Plano, Texas,” Joanne said. “It was hugely successful. We won the best new corporate university of the year award, within a year… The key proof point was when people sent me emails saying ‘I want to come to university.’  Salespeople don’t get excited about training.  That, to me, was inspiring — that our team could create a program that people wanted to come to.”

After HP, Joanne moved to Dell where she became the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Dell Software, “the smallest division inside Dell,” she said.  “By the time I got there, there were seven software entities acquired; Michael Dell had spent roughly in the neighborhood of $13 billion in acquisitions.  But it all had to be integrated.”  So Joanne took on the initial role of integrating these seven teams from a marketing/brand perspective to “come up with a uniform message to market around how Dell software was going to enable Dell solutions, overall.” 

Several years into that challenge, Joanne said “I got this call from Jabil. And I actually didn’t know who Jabil was!”  There was no marketing team, until she arrived as SVP, at Jabil (an $18 billion company) and yet “It’s a very high tech company; in fact we just won a Gartner award for high tech supply chain innovator.”  What intrigued Joanne was that at Jabil, an engineering-based company, “there is a lot of breadth and depth — solutions that span the entire product lifecycle, from designing a product to taking it to market; and then depth in terms of the type of different capabilities we’ve got and our engineering groups.”  She noted that Jabil specializes in “all the things that go into making wearable devices and IoT- connected devices, and all the storage systems and servers and networking.  We help enable the whole digital ecosystem; the whole IoT ecosystem! This is so exciting for me, because I’m still really close to technology, here.”  

Joanne and her team helped bring The Blue Sky Center to fruition, at Jabil, in Silicon Valley. Joanne called it “our innovation hub for the entire 180,000 person company. “ She explained that “Blue Sky is where we pull it all together. We can literally have someone walk in the door at 8:00 AM; have a design done by noon; and we can have a prototype in their hand by 4 PM in the afternoon. It’s like a ‘Toyland’ of capabilities!”

The customer for Blue Sky is “anyone who builds hardware,” Joanne said. She sees it as a vortex of accelerated innovation; and shared a story about a new healthcare device (a feeding tube equipped with a miniaturized 3D camera, tiny sensors, tiny LED lighting, held together by state-of-the-art adhesives) that the Blue Sky team, and one of their customers, created in record time, as just one example of the excitement that she feels about Blue Sky’s potential to change the world and help humanity.

Joanne characterized her three major leadership skills simply.  They include adaptability to change, her ability to assess risk, and her penchant to make decisions. “I think that making decisions is one of the most important things you can do if you’re an entrepreneur or an ‘intrapreneur.’ Decision-making is what fuels progress.”  

Joanne has never felt that her gender has had an effect on her career and growth.  “I am so focused on results, I have never felt it,” she said, discussing gender bias.  She thinks that her major challenge in the workplace was learning to slow down, and modulate her speed, to the needs of other colleagues/team members. “One of my challenges was being dead set on something, and not stopping to listen.  In big companies, you really have to learn to collaborate. Learning how to work in a bigger, broader, matrixed environment was a challenge for me.”  But one she has mastered with the help of coaches and mentors. Balancing home life and work life was another challenge, which was aided by “a big decision” that she and her husband, a successful software engineer at Microsoft, made. “We made a decision, together, that he would stay home with the kids, and he did, for 12 years. We worked this partnership like I have never seen.”

Joanne’s two biggest passions, outside of her professional mission, is attracting women to STEM while strengthening other women technology leaders; and working toward the goal of expanded, effective education. For her, it is all about “unlocking the potential of people, and the world.”

“We need a different education system,” she declared citing the statistic of only a 40% graduation rate from colleges/universities. “I think we can enable a new, disruptive learning approach through technology.”  Joanne mentioned that in her new community role, on the Advisory Board for the University of Texas’s Institute for Transformational Learning, she will be pursuing that, supporting the vision of the Chief Information Officer for UT.

Joanne also has an aspirational goal to inspire 1 million women to become STEM leaders by the year 2020. “And I put presentations together, blogs together, speak publicly whenever I am given the opportunity. I give away my top 10 leadership tips away all the time.” In pursuit of her passion to strengthen women’s leadership, Joanne is also the editor of an online newsletter “The Butterfly Effect,” which can be found here at: http://paper.li/JoannMoretti/1398403437

Joanne’s top 3 leadership lessons for aspiring women tech leaders include:

  • Speak in the language of business. “We must step away from our qualitative, fuzzy, touchy-feely speech. You need to speak, for instance, in terms of return on investment from capital, earnings per share, shareholder expectations.”

  • Connect the dots/plug into your company’s strategy.  “How does what you do connect back to the broader vision, broader KPI’s, and broader initiatives of the business?” For Joanne, this is key to “shattering the glass ceiling.”

  • Get along with other women.

And her remaining 7 include:

  • Build a personal Board of Directors

  • Build your network, and your brand inside it

  • Self-reflect, and think about the other person, always

  • Create mutual purpose

  • Lead (don’t “manage”) – empower, encourage, generate enthusiasm, coach

  • Get out of your comfort zone; embrace a new challenge/learning every day

  • Strategically accelerate your organization and, by extension, yourself

In support of her first leadership lesson, Joanne recommends one of her favorite book: FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE: a MANAGER’S GUIDE TO KNOWING WHAT THE NUMBERS REALLY MEAN (which can be downloaded for free as part of an Audible 30 Day Trial at www.audibletrial.com/dt2.)

Joanne Moretti can be reached on Twitter @joannmoretti and via email at joanne_moretti@jabil.com.

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