Women in Leadership is a blog series dedicated to highlighting influential women behind The Dude. In it, we'll explore topics like how they came to the tech space, what they're working on and where they see the industry going.
In this months Women in Leadership blog, meet Anna Breeden, Manager, Client Success Team.
Q: What was your experience like leading up to Dude Solutions? Had you worked in a tech environment before?
Prior to working at Dude Solutions, I lived in Savannah, Georgia for four years. At the time, I worked for iHeartMedia selling radio advertising to local businesses. We had six stations that were and still are popular stations in the area. I was responsible for the entire client lifecycle, from cold calling to collecting payment and writing commercial scripts. It was a tough job. Lots of long days, lots of rejection and tons of lessons learned.
My husband and I wanted to be closer to family and homed in on Raleigh. I distinctly remember taking a lunch break and looking through the different types of job offerings in Raleigh at the time. I came across Dude Solutions and thought Hmm, strange name. I saw “software” and thought it could be fun, and BOOM. Not long after my conversation with HR did I realize The Dude was going to be a perfect fit. We packed up and moved out within two weeks.
The things I learned while working at the station in Savannah are core principles that I continue to carry with me throughout my career. If I could go back and thank the man that kicked me out of his pet shop for trying to sell him advertising, I would.
Q: What is your official title at The Dude? What do you oversee?
I am one of two managers that oversees our Client Success team. Prior to managing, I worked as a CSM on the Government team, calling our clients in the non-Education space and building those relationships. Before working in Client Success, I was in a sales role. In my opinion sales is one of the toughest, most rewarding positions, but the middle part of the sale that everyone talks about — the building relationships, recognizing similarities and getting to know clients — that’s the space I wanted to work in and Client Success is the answer.
Q: Do you consider yourself a leader at Dude Solutions? What do you feel you bring to your role that inspires others to see you as a leader?
Growing up I was the loud child — the one that would grab the camcorder off my dad’s shoulder and make him film my dance performances with my little sister. I was the girl that struggled to find her place in high school because I couldn’t understand why everyone was split up in different social groups. These things stand out to me now. Now that I’m in the position I’m in, I look back at those times that I felt embarrassed because I stood up for myself or those times when I spoke up for something unfair, and I see that they eventually lead to something really cool.
Leadership is something I think each person has in them. It’s something that when you find the right path, your leadership comes naturally. Am I good leader? I hope so. I know I work every day to become better and am constantly looking for things that feel off in hopes I can change them. I’m a new leader, so this is all still a little fresh. I’m working out the awkward kinks that come with new leadership. I can tell you, though, that I have one of the best teams at The Dude. They are encouraging, honest and helpful in so many ways.
Q: What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
The Client Success team has seen such a drastic change over the past year that we’re constantly working on something new to keep pushing us forward. Our growth is nonstop. I am (and hope everyone at The Dude is) excited to see what 2019 brings for us. If anyone is interested in stopping by or putting some time together, I would love to share with you our latest and greatest plans!
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments or wins while at The Dude or in other tech-related ventures?
There’s something special about helping a client. There’s something that happens when you invest your time working through an issue or strategic project. I remember my first Dude University down in Myrtle Beach and meeting our clients for the first time. I didn’t realize how hard their jobs are. I didn’t understand how underappreciated their field is. Working to ensure we shine light on things that can help move their organizations to the next level is something I take pride in every day. We’re building business cases with data to show where their needs are and where they’re succeeding. We have tons of success stories around where our direction and guidance have built the confidence our clients need to go out there and do what they do. Every single person at The Dude plays a part in helping our clients, and to see how it has such a vital impact in our clients' lives is a win every day.
Q: What, if any, have been your challenges navigating being a leader in this industry?
I think just being a new leader in general is a little challenging but exciting at the same time. I’m in a constant state of learning any and everything I can from the amazing leadership we have here at The Dude. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with other leaders to discuss similarities in our leadership styles and consider how we can grow our teams in new, innovative ways.
Q: Do you have any thoughts you’d like to share about being a woman in the tech field, or advice for other women carving out a space?
Confidence. If there’s anything I can share regarding my experience in this industry, leadership and just life in general, it’s confidence. Learn to listen and learn to trust in what you have to say when you share an idea. It’s important to know you have a place here for a reason.
Q: Where would you like to see the industry go?
I think the possibilities are endless. We’re finding areas within the industry that no other tech company have ventured into yet. It’s an exciting time to be a Dude. I encourage each person to learn something new about the company every day. Talk to Development, come to Client Success and see what we’re up to or learn how Sales works! The more you know about the other teams you work with, the more the big picture makes sense.
Q: How do you feel your leadership is helping drive the industry in a positive direction?
I get the pleasure of working with some of the best leaders in the industry. I’m able to collaborate with each department on how we can make our engine run smoother. Each team member, each leader, each client plays a vital role in helping the industry move forward.