This profile is with Kerry Sinclair, Executive Vice President of IT at Sage. At the time of the interview, she was also covering Product Operations at Sage. You can watch her video, or read the transcript of Kerry’s interview below.
Brittany Benson: Thank you for joining and sharing a few minutes of your day with me, Kerry ! Could you share a little bit of detail about your role at Sage ?
Kerry Sinclair: I'm the Executive Vice President of IT and Product Operations. I look after all of the IT around Sage, the IT that our colleagues use to do their job every day, as well as the infrastructure that our products run on. That might be our Sage Business Cloud Accounting customers and the environments that they run their products on, or the technical infrastructures they sit on. It's quite a diverse range of topics, really.
Brittany Benson: What would you say is the best part of your job ?
Kerry Sinclair: I would say it’s the nature of the topics that I look after and am accountable for, which brings with it quite a diverse range of people. I get to speak to people from Spain one day, maybe a colleague from France the next ; It’s wonderful ! That incredible diversity, combined with using lots of different technologies, people collaborating together, ultimately leads to better solutions and better outcomes for our customers.
Brittany Benson: Working across so many different geographies, what advice would you have for an aspiring leader who wants to pursue a role similar to yours, working cross-functionally in the technology space ?
Kerry Sinclair: My advice is to always be really curious : curious about the customer problem that we're trying to solve, curious about the opportunity in front of you, and curiosity to explore the power that collective thinking can bring to those outcomes. Even if you're not a natural technologist, think through how you could improve ; whether that's a process, a product, through automation, or just thinking about doing things in different ways. That’s what I love about the diverse nature of it – everybody comes at it from quite a different angle. What we might assume we're going to come out with if we go into a brainstorming session, versus what actually happens can be dramatically different and I think that's exciting.
Brittany Benson: That's very introspective and very good advice. When you're leading these teams, how would you describe your own personal leadership style ? Can you chat a little bit about what you think has shaped that ?
Kerry Sinclair: I feel that what I add is connection and bringing people together. Often, it's like anybody, I don't have all of the answers, but I like to try and facilitate the teams to come up with those answers, which means that my style is very inclusive. Whilst I am challenging and playing devil's advocate, I would hope that my teams would say I’m an inclusive leader. I'm also very clear about the outcomes that we're coming up with to ensure that they deliver the customer outcomes that we want, not just a technology outcome. It's deeply important to me that technology isn't there for technology’s sake. It's got to be there for the delivery of a benefit to our colleagues, our customers, or the company as a whole and not losing sight of that.
There was somebody at Sage that recently said, "I want us to fall in love with the problem before we fall in love with the solution.” I think technologists like to fall in love with the solution before they really understand the problem. I see myself, from a leadership perspective, as opening up doors to that problem before we jump to action.
Brittany Benson: I love how you mentioned delivering really good customer outcomes and as we know, customers are at the heart of Sage and really everything we do. When you're working with your team, how do you ensure that your team is working with a very customer centric framework in mind ?
Kerry Sinclair: That is one of the things I'm constantly trying to bring to the group and have them explore their thinking. As part of falling in love with the problem, we try and get really clear on the “why” we're doing things. Even if I get a request to upgrade a server, and I'm constantly asking, “Why ?”
They'll tell me that it'll put us on the latest version, and I’ll go back with, “So what ?" Until we eventually get to a good outcome. For example, "Actually, we're doing this because the 300 users of that server will get faster outcomes and they face our customers every day, therefore they're going to serve our customers more efficiently." That's the outcome that we wanted. It's not about the server being upgraded. Whilst that is the task, it's linking it directly to the outcome that we need to deliver. There are a lot of technologies we touch on that are tangibly impacting the customer, but every single thing we do, I try to bring that to life.
Brittany Benson: That's such a fantastic answer and thank you for sharing that. If there was one thing that you could change for women in the workplace, what would that be ?
Kerry Sinclair: Being inclusive of thoughts. What I mean by that is not just having a diverse mix of people on your team. There's no point in having five men and five women if you're not really valuing what they each bring differently and understanding that difference. For me, it's about the quality of that conversation and making sure that we're really including everyone’s input, as opposed to just hearing it and still doing what we would have always done. Whether that's about thinking differently about how people use the products and services that we deliver or having different customer personas, inclusivity of thought and applying that feedback to the workplace is important.
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.