Laureen joined Accellion as VP of Worldwide Business Development in early 2017 and is responsible for the company’s channel sales and strategic partnerships. She brings over 25 years of experience in enterprise software sales and marketing, and strategic partnership development with expertise in Enterprise File Sync and Sharing, Collaboration, and Content Management. Prior to Accellion, she was Vice President of North America & Asia Pacific at Workshare, where she was responsible for expanding the company’s business in the legal vertical. Prior to Workshare, Laureen was instrumental in growing the business development and sales efforts at Planitax, a SaaS solution provider enabling corporate tax departments to efficiently and effectively manage their data. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I consider myself a leader who sets the bar high and creates a supportive environment for the people I manage to reach their goals. People tell me that I bring a sense of urgency mixed in with a fun, positive energy that is motivating and inspiring. I developed an independent and can-do attitude from a young age. I have traveled all over the world and spent time living in Peru. I am curious by nature and enjoy learning new things. I enjoy bringing people together and celebrating success.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Accellion?
I’ve done a wide variety of jobs in different industries, and worked my way up from the bottom. I’ve had responsibilities ranging from managing a health clinic, to software programming and database design, to managing a global team of professionals. I understand the economics of business from a marketing, sales, and C-suite level. Through this experience I’ve gained perspective that allows me to balance the needs of different people and organizations. Whether I am finalizing a strategic partnership or training a new group of employees, I try to put myself in the place of others and make mutually beneficial decisions.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Accellion?
One highlight that stands out is the quality of the team I am working with on a daily basis. I am surrounded by people I have tremendous respect for which in turn raises the bar for me.
One of our biggest challenges at Accellion, and one that all small to midsize companies operating in fairly established markets have, is in breaking through the noise. We have a great solution that addresses an important problem many enterprises are facing: how to securely share sensitive information with authorized external users. The security and compliance executives have so much on their plate and so many vendors clamoring for mindshare, reaching them is not always easy. I see that as a key role for our channel and partners.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Be your authentic self…be present and listen fully…expect to work hard and to be rewarded…work to find a seat at the table and when you get there speak up, don’t step aside.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
The lesson that has had the most lasting impact on me is that success is not about me as an individual, it’s about the team and the company. I set the bar high for my employees, but I believe in understanding each individual and creating the environment they need to succeed. When they see what they have been able to accomplish through perseverance and overcoming obstacles, they come back for more and reach even greater heights. That leads to happy employees and a better performing team.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
Finding that work/life balance is definitely a work in progress. I didn’t realize how much my work had taken over my life until my daughter almost lost her life in a car accident. Prior to the accident, I was traveling and essentially living from a suitcase three weeks each month, and had little time to spare a thought for anything but work. But in an instant I gained the clarity of understanding that I had to make room for the things that truly matter.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find the right balance, but at Accellion I incorporate more of myself in my work. I sometimes bring my daughters in to work to meet the team, and I enjoy spending time with my dog Fred (who was actually instrumental in my coming to Accellion in the first place). I have a passion for SoulCycle, and I have learned that I find more inspiration in work when I can recharge myself physically. When I make more time for myself I am a better employee at work, and a better mother and friend when I’m at home.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
The simple – but true – answer here is that women are treated with skepticism, especially in the tech industry. However, changing that begins with ourselves rather than blaming others. The key to overcoming this challenge is to persist. We may not be heard at first, particularly early in our career. As we keep our heads down, work hard, and add value, others can’t help but respect us. We gain a powerful voice that allows us to lend our unique viewpoint to the business that would otherwise be lacking. When we continue striving to be heard and refuse to give up, we find ourselves on equal footing with men. And then we can share the message that together we can achieve more than men or women could alone.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I have a good friend who I was lucky enough to have met many years ago during a job interview in San Francisco. She hired me for my first position in the tech industry and several others over the years. I have been drawn to her insight, integrity, and professionalism. And, although it may not have always been what I wanted to hear, she has pushed me through tough times personally and professionally. She still inspires me today.
I also remember the first time I hired a new group of college graduates. One day several of them approached me at the end of the day and let me know how much they were learning, and how lucky they felt to be working for me. It was gratifying to know that I made a difference, and it gave me a sense of responsibility that continues to this day.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Sandra Day O’Connor – I spent 4 hours sitting next to her on a bus ride to an event in Colorado. She was charming, witty, and genuinely interested in what I had to say. I was impressed and in awe of such a powerful woman taking interest in a stranger. She left a lasting impression on me.
I love Michelle Obama. She is appealing to a lot of people. She is well spoken and her humor, intelligence and poise are inspirational to women everywhere. She is a good reminder that we can each make a difference wherever we are.
Others I admire…Stella McCartney for her fight for ethical clothing; Reshma Saujani who developed Girls who Code; and Shonda Rhimes for shining bright in a male-dominated entertainment industry.
The confidence and can-do attitude in these women inspire a determination to succeed that does a lot of good for girls and women who are working towards a successful career. I feel a kinship with women like this and hope I can have a similar impact on the people I work with throughout my career.
What do you want Accellion to accomplish in the next year?
Accellion is on the crest of the Security and Governance wave. The data breaches that happen on a daily basis are massive, visible leaks that impact not only big companies and cost CEOs and CISOs their jobs but they impact every one of us. As a company, we have an opportunity to raise the bar for how enterprises handle sensitive information whether that is patient records at a hospital, financial data in a loan or insurance application, or secure government files. My goal for Accellion this year is to develop key partnership and acquisition opportunities that will extend our reach in the market and reduce the risk of the data breaches.