Today’s Wednesdays for Women post is part of an occasional series titled “Lessons from Leaders,” featuring insights that can help anyone looking to grow their career and leadership skills. In today’s blog, Trish Dutton, Solutions Director in Consulting Services and member of the JDA Winning Leadership program, shares what she learned about becoming a transformational leader, especially around initiating and leading business change, from a dynamic JDA executive.
Dorien Weijts, SVP and Chief Information Officer, began her JDA career as an IT Manager in 2005 and moved into various management roles, taking on increasing responsibilities and initiating and leading business and technology change for the company. Highlights from my conversation with Dorien follow:
No day is the same
There is no typical “day-in-the-life” of the JDA CIO, as every day is different and exciting. Being able to juggle multiple things and keeping a good attitude is certainly important. Dorien’s emphasis is both internal to JDA and external to JDA’s customers and the industries we serve. One of the most important aspects of the role is the ability to effectively interact with customers, associates, the leadership team and industry peers. Adding value for JDA and customers is always forefront for Dorien. Last year she focused on building the foundation for the IT organization by developing talent and providing tools. This year, she is concentrating on JDA customers, serving as executive sponsor on several accounts, ensuring strategic alignment and driving value.
Career as a journey
Dorien views her career as a journey. She began as a technology consumer, then became a tech-savvy superuser interested in how IT can improve users’ lives. She feels that her ability to interact with people and her understanding of how IT decisions affect users are some of the biggest factors in moving her along this journey. She believes a willingness to take risks, such as taking on a role outside your comfort zone, can grow us personally and professionally. Making mistakes, learning from them, and moving on is a significant factor in growth as well.
The impact of edge technologies and agile methods
The pivot to next-gen technologies and moving to an agile methodology have impacted the roadmaps of all software vendors, including JDA. Using an agile method allows JDA to have visibility early on, versus doing design-build-test-deploy, and waiting six months or longer to see the end product, then realizing that the product no longer meets the business needs. JDA’s Luminate solutions incorporate edge technologies and are delivered with an agile approach. We have learned about moving from a project to product mindset from Blue Yonder, where we focus on smaller number of features delivered in multiple sprints versus a big bang go-live. Celebrating each sprint, rather than waiting until the solution is complete keeps teams engaged, increases collaboration, and demonstrates value much quicker.
On resilient leadership
We often hear that “change is constant,” and this is reality in today’s world. Dorien says that becoming effective leaders in our rapidly changing environment starts with ourselves. First and foremost, we must be resilient, adaptive, and have a passion for change. We must become a change agent. She interacts with many different teams at JDA, so one of the first things she does is understand the impact of a change on each team. Then she leads the IT organization in providing tools and resources which enable associates to embrace the changing environment. Explaining how new initiatives support company objectives and add value to the organization goes a long way to leading people toward growing with and accepting the change. She believes that it is critical that leaders are open to and encourage questions from their teams, peers, and customers.
Detail-oriented versus big picture
Being more detail-oriented versus big picture-focused has changed for Dorien over time as she has taken on roles with increasing responsibilities. Focus really depends on the situation. Early in her career, managing projects meant being very detail-oriented to ensure individual tasks were completed on time. Due to the velocity of change nowadays, her focus is big picture. Having to make quick decisions with often incomplete information means having the confidence to know that if you have 80 percent certainty–and keep that big picture in mind–you will usually make the right decision. Of course, one should do regular check-ins to monitor that things are on track.
The biggest challenge faced by JDA and how IT can help address it
Attracting and retaining top talent is a priority for JDA. Dorien and team are in tune with how competitive the market is and are committed to providing the best technology tools, resources and systems to support the company’s recruiting efforts. A recent example is the rollout of Workday Recruiting, which streamlines the hiring process for both external candidates and JDA associates applying to open positions.
Dorien thinks that sometimes it’s harder to make something simple than it is to make it complex! With that in mind, she and her team fully embrace JDA’s customer-first mindset and strive to make interacting with JDA easy and straight-forward. The company’s SaaS-first approach with solutions that provide predictive decision-making and support mobility are good examples of how JDA is enhancing the customer experience.