Ep 83: Gail Bernard: Live Your Life Like You Stole It!

Diva Tech Talk was delighted to interview Gail Bernard, Director of Sales, Americas, for Cybernoor, a leading provider of Oracle platform solutions, with focused expertise in systems integration, managed services, cloud solutions, application development, technical training, and overall digital transformation of any enterprise.

 In Gail’s childhood, she was fascinated by science. Directly after high school, she worked as a dental assistant and then attended the University of Washington where she entered a pre-med program. “I saw technology, originally, as enabling medicine,” she said but additionally “I saw we could use technology to solve business problems, life problems.” She migrated to management information systems and then transferred to the University of Michigan, where Gail completed her BBA in MIS.  While completing her degree, she was fortunate to undertake two internships at the Chrysler Corporation. As an intern, she managed the personal computer rollout  for the entire corporation. Gail was fortunate to have had a great deal of breadth and autonomy in her initial roles, making decisions about displacement of existing systems and how/where/when this pivotal technology would be deployed. Then she began working at Chrysler, full-time after graduation, as a systems analyst in their product development group. “We were the first to use DB2/CICS to do relational applications, married to transactional applications, in the country.”  Her team produced a complicated engineering BOM (Bill of Materials) and in the course of that “I got to work with amazing, brilliant people!”

After Chrysler, Gail moved to consulting initially for the retail industry, where she gained more in-depth experience in inventory and supply chain technology deployment. Then she moved into technology consulting sales.  “I knew what people were doing; I knew the challenges.” She strove to lead a consulting service that would “deliver the breadth and depth of services” required by her clients, which grew to include the three largest automotive OEM’s (Ford, GM, Chrysler) and other large Michigan organizations like DTE Energy, University of Michigan Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital System, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, and others.   Some of her favorite projects involved using information technology to empower healthcare solutions. “Being around diverse groups of people taught me how to conduct myself in any given scenario,” Gail said.

Gail then migrated to founding and leading the Detroit-based office of Interactive Business Systems, as they expanded into Michigan with their full portfolio of products and services.  “I had recruiters, I had services, I had sales” as part of her team. “I needed a briefcase of solutions that any customer needed at a given time,” she said.   She then moved, for a short period of time, to Alliance Technology Solutions, an IBM business partner.

 While Gail enjoyed the sales and consulting work, she became intellectually restless. She also underwent a bout with breast cancer, and “realized that having healthcare choices, in retirement was big.” So, she decided to get her PMP certification, passing her exam on the first round.  That led Gail to her next career chapter as the Project Management Officer (PMO) for the U.S. District Court, Eastern Division, in Michigan ---- one of the biggest consolidated court systems in the U.S.  “We covered two agencies/systems, pre-trial and probation, with a dotted line to both the U.S. Marshall Service, and the U.S. Attorney General’s office.” Always a disruptor, Gail explained that the system “was new to the judiciary. It had never been done.” Prior to her tenure, “no one had created the point of service to incorporate all of those agencies.”  The number of elements that required automation was extensive. “We were able to digitize the probation and pre-trial functions so that we ended up with the lowest recidivism rates of offenders, in the nation.” Gail is inordinately proud because this accomplishment was the foundation of “programs that worked on true rehabilitation” of offenders. “These people could become productive, and they wanted to be productive!”

 Now Gail has returned to a consulting role at 10-year old Cybernoor, which is “new to Michigan.”  Its founder, Ahmed Alomari ,  was the Vice President of Application Development at Oracle Corporation but left a decade ago to create an improved portfolio of products and services, on top of Oracle platforms.  What most excites Gail, in her role of driving sales throughout North America, is that Cybernoor is a leader in full, organic digital transformation for large organizations.  “In the cloud, there are a lot of services and integration that must go on,” she said. And Cybernoor is positioned to make that easier for its clients, through the “lift and shift” phases of evolution, migrating from on-premise solutions to Internet-based implementations.

 Gail’s career strengths include intellectual agility, the propensity to move/evolve at the speed of disruptive change, and her constant quest for greater meaning in her work, as a motivator, coupled with boundless energy.  To stay joyous, she fully recognizes and basks in the glow of both small and large accomplishments. “I don’t necessarily separate my professional life and my personal life,” she said. Having faced a significant health challenge, when she triumphed over cancer, she has only two fears today:  physical heights, and failure! She also gives back, regularly, to others dealing with that disease by “being a buddy” when she finds someone who needs support.

 Gail shared key leadership lessons for women following her on the tech journey:

  1. “Don’t take shortcuts. They will catch up with you!”

  2. “Accept that males and females are different.  We have different brain structures. That’s a good thing. Lean into it! Celebrate it and pull the best out of it.”  (One example Gail cited is linear thinking vs. multitasking, and how each can contribute to a success.)

  3. “Empower, rather than command.”

Gail also said that a key lesson for her has been that “no one has it figured out.”  She noted that many younger colleagues and teammates of hers “mentor up.” And that is both healthy and can produce vigorous innovation.  She also counseled that each of us should live in the moment and understand that life’s goal “is not a destination, it is a process.” Seizing the day, she giggled: “I say live your life like you stole it!”

Gail can be reached at gbernard@cybernoor.com, and her twitter handle is @gailabernard.

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Diva Tech Talk Team

Podcast Divas